Friday, April 9, 2010

Tempting Tucker by Barbara J. Hancock

TITLE: Tempting Tucker
AUTHOR: Barbara J. Hancock
PUBLISHER: Wild Rose Press
LENGTH: Short story (roughly 13k)
GENRE: Historical romance
COST: $2.50

Only one man has ever interested Lizzie Maddox, but Tucker Hardy is the son of the most notorious outlaw out there, and nothing he will ever do will be enough to satisfy Lizzie’s father, the Sheriff…

Sometimes, I don’t know if a problem I have with a story is due to the author or a publisher’s error. In this particular case, it's too much italicizing. There are words, phrases, and sometimes entire sentences that are italicized, in places that seem obviously meant for emphasis. A lot of authors use italics to draw attention to words or phrases for this purpose, but most of them use it sparingly. Otherwise, it loses impact. When something that is done for these purposes (punctuation like exclamation points and ellipses are other examples of this) gets overused, it gets in the way of the story. I think this story probably would have rated even higher if I hadn’t had such issues in the first half. Sentences like this (complete with italics), “Lizzie held onto the stall door as she turned, to brace herself or hold herself back, she wasn’t sure which.” are more than typical.

In spite of that, my heart caught on this short story. There is a delicate yearning permeating every page, as these two who want each other and yet have to wait in order to make it work dance around their feelings. On the surface, there’s nothing new or remarkable about the characters or their situation. Good girl, bad boy trying to get over his past and family history, nothing new there. By a third of the way into the story, though, I wanted – needed – these two to get their happy ending. The emotions are heartfelt and genuine. Every single one called out to me.

Technically, this is a western, but the details aren’t excessive and don’t do much more than give the most cursory sense of time and place. The characters may not necessarily sparkle in the same way the feelings do, but they are likeable, honorable people, more than worth spending a few minutes with to share their love story. I have a paranormal novel by this author in my TBR pile. I have high hopes for getting sucked into that one, too.


7/10 – Excessive italic emphasis distracts for the first two-thirds


7/10 – Honorable in spite of his family history


7/10 – Sympathetic and braver than she thinks

Entertainment value

8/10 – The delicate yearning throughout surpasses other story weaknesses

World building

7/10 – Enough to give it a flavor