Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Love on the Line by Deeanne Gist

Love on the Line is a fitting title for the story of our two main characters. It both literally and figuratively describes their relationship, along with the various other circumstances which have also put their lives on the line.

In Texas, bird lover/activist Georgie Gail, telephone operator for the small town of Brenham, whiles away her days fielding multiple phone calls, local gossip, and admiring her beloved feathered friends. Lucious (otherwise known as "Luscious") Landrom spends his time hunting down criminals Texas Ranger style, and along with the help of his trusted pistols Odysseus and Penelope, manages to bag outlaws left and right; all except for Frank Comer, the one who got away. Or rather gets away; repeatedly. To his chagrin, Lucious realizes the only way he stands a chance of catching the elusive criminal is by going undercover as an unsuspecting telephone repair man. Disguising himself, and ditching his fancy duds for faded overalls, Lucious changes his name to Luke Palmer, while trying to ingratiate himself with the town locals in hopes of discovering the Comer gangs whereabouts.

Upon meeting for the first time, Luke and Georgie initially have a clash of wills, but attraction quickly gives way to a softening of hearts; despite the fact the Texas Ranger openly admits to hunting birds for sport. Much as this admission galls Georgie, what will her reaction be should she find out Luke's true identity is Lucious Landrom, the man who's very name she has mocked on more than one occasion? And can Luke capture his intended targets without arousing suspicion, while still continuing to romance Georgie? With secrets abounding, can they nurture their growing love or will it be disconnected just as surely as the snap of a telephone wire?

This was an enjoyable read for me and I looked forward to spending time in the world Ms. Gist created. Having penned several other historical western novels, she proves herself very capable of handling the subject matter here competently and rather seemlessly. There are interesting details about various winged creatures, along with the crafts of marksmanship, hat making, telephone operating, etc. Small town life is depicted in all its pleasantness yet the underlying hardship is not glossed over but rather the reader feels for Georgie as a single young woman living in a man's world. She wants her independence while also retaining a sense of femininity, despite her strong viewpoint on women's rights. This was well portrayed and relateable.

I've usually found the romance in this author's books to have a nice sizzle but for some reason this one was more of a fizzle for me. I can't exactly pinpoint why, because the characters are likeable enough, but it just didn't leap off the page and grab me as I thought it would. Perhaps, it was missing more elements of the unexpected. While well written, the plot turns all went in the basic direction I expected them to and the "spoiler" toward the end wasn't a surprise as I had already figured out who the main villain really was long before his reveal. Or maybe that was intentional?

Either way, I don't want to be overly nitpicky as I did enjoy the story and have no qualms about saying Deeanne Gist is a very talented writer who does this sort of fiction with an engaging flair. I know she spends a lot of time researching each project ahead of time and it shows in the little attentions to detail, which I appreciate. They give an authenticity which can't be duplicated and the reader can feel when an author has done their homework. I'll look forward to Ms. Gist's next book, and in the meantime, probably re-read some of her "oldies but goodies."

Thanks to Bethany House Publisher for a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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