Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Notorious in the West - Lisa Plumley (HH #1183 - May 2014)


Infamous Boston businessman Griffin Turner may have a reputation for being thoroughly ruthless, but underneath it all he hides a painful past. He manages to keep the world at bay until he comes up against the smart, sassy Olivia Mouton.

Morrow Creek's resident beauty Olivia is determined to stand up to Griffin -- no matter how notorious the stories that precede him! But when he reveals a side that no one else has seen before, she has to reconsider everything she's ever heard….

After a miserable childhood, Griffin became a very successful businessman with a horrible reputation. His reputation precedes him to Morrow Creek, where he encounters Olivia Mouton. Olivia isn't intimidated by him at all, and soon tames the "Beast".

I liked Griffin right from the start. The book starts with a glimpse of his youth, growing up with a notorious father and an uncaring, selfish and cruel mother. He also deals with cruel taunts because of his looks, which causes him to lock away his emotions. He falls for a young woman as a teenager and works to become successful enough to win her. When she turns down his proposal he is devastated and retreats to Morrow to deal with his pain. He uses his reputation to keep people from bothering him, but discovers one person who refuses to be intimidated.

Olivia was a bit harder for me to warm up to. As a young girl she was quite pretty, but also intelligent and curious. She is determined that people see her as more than just a pretty face. But her father doesn't approve of her activities and prefers that she act more "proper". Because she wants to please him, she buries her own preferences and becomes the type of person everyone expects her to be. I really wanted to smack her for playing dumb so often. When she meets Griffin he has just displayed a terrible temper tantrum that she calls him on, and then walks away. When she returns to discover that he has taken over the hotel and threatened to shut it down, she is determined to get him to change his mind.

Griffin is surprised by Olivia and his reaction to her. Her attempts to get him out of his room and meeting people amuse him from the beginning. He is also surprised by the fact that she appears to see past his looks to who he really is. This worries him some, but also makes him surprisingly happy. He also begins to recognize a kindred spirit and finds himself telling her things he's never told anyone else. He sees the way that she hides who she really is behind the prim and proper facade and is determined to get her to show everyone who she really is.

Olivia sees past Griffin's looks into the pain she sees in his eyes. She is determined to get him out of his self imposed isolation and show him that he is worth getting to know. Because he doesn't know her at all, she feels comfortable being more like her real self around him. She uses her scientific way of looking at things to figure out how to break him free of his chains. But she only shows the real her when they are alone together. She continues to be the prim and proper Olivia when they are in public together, though it gets harder to do the more she is around him. She feels like he is encouraging her to be herself, but she has spent so long hiding that she has a hard time believing that he isn't simply testing her "properness". She feels good when she finally lets go of her fears, but it also creates a different problem with Griffin.

The interactions between Griffin and Olivia were a lot of fun. I had to laugh at her attempts to be the maid. It was also fun to see the way she took control of Griffin's life in an attempt to force him out in public. Olivia's own experiences with the way people treated her because of her looks enabled her to see past Griffin's looks. It was a unique experience for him to have those looks so completely ignored. I really liked the way their relationship grew from an initial friendship. It was great to see how easy it was for them to be themselves with each other rather than who they were expected to be. The deeper feelings that developed made them long for something more, but neither one felt that they deserved that kind of happiness. I loved the ending and seeing the whole town get involved in making sure they got their happy ending.

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