Rating: 4.5 Stars out of 5
Robby Riverton is a rising star of the stage. He is on his way to something big when Robby witnesses a murder committed by a notorious gangster know to be meticulous enough to leave no witnesses alive. Robby’s life changes in a single moment leaving him to flee all he has ever known to live in obscurity.
Trace Crabtree is the Sheriff of Flat Bottom and he finds himself getting bored with his life. On a trip to Santa Fe, he comes across a woman being hassled by two men as he interferes he finds out that the woman is a mail-order bride intended for his little brother. But, as he soon finds out the mail-order bride isn’t who she says she is or more precisely isn’t who he says he is…
Firstly, I have to commend Mathew Shaw’s narration. It was so good. The narrator’s voice has a lot of influence on how you perceive an audiobook, it could make an average book good or worse depending on the narration. But, this was definitely one book in which it made a great book greater. Mathew Shaw was amazing. He did different accents for every character which made it even better. I especially loved his accent for Marcy, it was so very unique and the accent became the embodiment of how the character spoke in my mind which is something I have never given much thought to despite how unique and identifying voices can be. There is definitely something to be said about someone whispering a story in your ear though expositions can be particularly torturous in audiobooks.
On the whole, this story is very entertaining. I definitely had some laugh-out moments with this one and this story just kept me amused and feeling all the feels as the story went about its twists and turns.
I really enjoyed the story but there is something that just niggles at the back of my mind with this one which is wholly responsible for the docked half star. Robby plays a woman for the better half of this book. It is only at the very beginning and nearing the end that he is himself. A lot of the times all the characters view Robby as a woman and thus perceive and act accordingly. There is a point in this book where Robby stands up for Emmie and Marcy and points out very tactfully and decisively that they be treated better. At this point, I must confess that the point he brings out also includes the family’s manner and their shoddy attire which is actually for the benefit of everyone. But, still this particular point makes me a bit ill at ease, on the outside, Rowena standing up for the woman is something daring, brave and amazing but we as the readers know it is a man standing up for the women. This scene was one in which the image of the scene as seen by the characters held more significance than as that seen by the readers, because a woman fighting for the rights of other women when a woman’s rights weren’t always guaranteed is different than if a man already assured of his rights fights for the same. It’s just different at least from my perspective so I put it out there. This was the one thing that really made me re-assess my view on the storyline and in a way, I am really glad that Trace knew that Robby was Rowena all throughout, so such situations wouldn’t bias his POV. Also, since the author doesn’t pursue this avenue further and even manages to rectify it to some extent by the end, does help matters.
Also, it’s sometimes weird when you want a 2018 happy ending to a 1860s storyline. So, I had to swallow that down because the author stays true to the era. Not that there isn’t a happy ending, there is, it’s just different to what I would have wanted. This story really has me conflicted at times for some reason I am thrusting my own version of a happy ending on Robby’s happy ending. The author does justice to both her characters but for some stupid reason, I feel disappointed because that is not the ending I personally wanted for me… as these two. It’s complicated. God, this book really messed me up. It’s almost like I was Robby living with the Crabtrees and I just wanted him to continue on like that forever irrespective of the dis-service it would be to his own character. I feel like I put myself in Robby’s place a little too much.
Anyhow those idiosyncrasies aside (that probably anyone who isn’t me wouldn’t have even noticed), this book is truly amazing, hilarious and all around entertaining. I loved how Robby faces so many hurdles as best as he can adapting and trying to make the World a better place. It’s amazing what he is able to do for the Crabtrees and Clovis. That conversation that Rowena has with Clovis about manners is like a warm ray of sunshine, I wanted to snuggle in it. I loved Rowena’s interactions with Pa-pa and especially with Marcy and Emmie. I kind of loved the trio these three made.
I really loved the real Miss Rowena Fairchild, Robby as Rowena, Emmie and Marcy. Emmie, Marcy and Clovis were such amazing people and I whole-heartedly feel in love with these characters.
Trace was someone who I didn’t like when the book began but somehow slowly but steadily without me even realising it I had been won over, as at the end of the book I was shocked to realise that I had started out pretty cold towards Trace.
Trace and Robby were so good. There was so much to overcome when it came to Trace’s view on relationships, particularly those between two men an I liked how the author stayed true to the 19th century in that regard. But, I loved how well Robby and Trace were together and how inevitable.
All things considered, this book is an amazing read. It was so much fun listening to and I really really, enjoyed this one.
Cover Art by Dar Albert / Wicked Smart Designs. I loved the cover especially when I came across the author’s note on the same.