A MAN TO CALL MY OWN
Atria, July 2003
Reviewed by Barbara Fielding
Upon the death of their father, identical twins Marian and Amanda Laton are quickly packed off to Texas to the guardianship of their last living relative. The recently widowed Kathleen Dunn never really got to know her twin nieces, since she married and moved to Texas when they were only babies. Her relationship with her late brother, Mortimer Laton, a cold, miserly man, was nonexistent. When a telegram arrives informing her that the girls are on their way, Kathleen sends her foreman, Chad Kinkaid, to Galveston to meet the girls and escort them to her ranch.
Chad Kinkaid, the son of a powerful Texas rancher, is running from an unresolved spat with his father, Stuart Kinkaid, when Kathleen sends him to escort her nieces safely home. Chad is surprised to find two feisty, quarrelsome young women rather than two sweet little girls. Amanda is a beautiful but spoiled young woman who never stops complaining and Marion, is a spinsterish, bespectacled phony.
Amanda is used to every man she meets falling in love with her and Chad is no exception, but the troubles that she has endured on her way to Texas bring out the worst in her. Marion, her identical twin, suppresses her beauty in a misguided attempt to dodge her sister's jealous, mean streak. However, from the moment Marion lays eyes on Chad, she know this is the man she wants to call her own. She regrets the beautiful features and passionate nature she has always repressed and struggles to find a way to undo her sham.
This 1870's western is a road trip story, carrying the reader from Massachusetts to Texas and back to Massachusetts again. The hero, Chad Kinkaid, a rugged cowboy character, is hard to pin down. He has some appealing scenes, and a great sense of humor, but I would have liked more background and scenes from his point of view. His romantic interest, Marion Laton, goes through a transformation from a repressed woman into a lovable more confidant person through the intervention of her sister. Amanda Laton, the spoiled sister, was totally annoying, but undergoes a gradual change which somewhat redeems her as events unfold. Amanda has her own love story with Chad Kinkaid's childhood rival, Spencer Evans, but none of this romance is told from her point of view. This approach leaves the reader to view Amanda's story with a sense of detachment.
A MAN TO CALL MY OWN is a tale loaded with quarrels, lies, and misunderstandings. It's a story with characters that grind on your last nerve, and then surprise you with delightful moments. The cat fight between these two quarrelsome sisters is a pretty funny moment. It appears the much loved author, Ms. Lindsey, is exploring different types of characters and has departed from her earlier storytelling style in this novel. The love scenes are short and sweet followed by pages and pages of complications. In the end, Ms Lindsey ties the plot up with a surprise ending. While I had some problems with this novel, Johanna Lindsey is still a first-rate romance writer and fans will enjoy adding this western romance to their collections.
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