Monday, August 02, 2010
Ruthless Heart by Emma Lang
Sheltered all her life, Eliza Hunter never imagined herself alone in the vast Utah plains, much less trailing a mysterious man hired to hunt down her beautiful younger sister. And when she finds herself sharing the warmth of Grady's campfire, she gives in to her deepest desires.
Grady Wolfe is a man forever on the run. He knows he should leave Eliza alone, but she stirs something in him he hasn't felt before. Now he's lost in the woods for the first time in his life - with a dangerous job to do. And no one - not even the luscious Eliza - is going to stop him.
I really enjoyed both Grady and Eliza in this book. The premise is so different - not many would take on the LDS church, but Lang does. Eliza is the oldest daughter of an elder in the church. Her younger sister has run away from her abusive husband, and Eliza hears her father discussing paying a bounty hunter to find her. Little does Eliza know that that bounty hunter has been paid to kill her sister for having the audacity to run away from the abuse she's been forced to endure.
Eliza is a scholar, something not well accepted in the LDS in the 1800s. She must hide her activities from her father or be beaten. Lang points out immediately that Eliza doesn't believe in the LDS way of life, and although it's clear that the teachings are at odds with her logical outlook on life, I would have liked to see the reasons why more explicitly presented.
Although it's clear that Eliza doesn't hold with the teachings of the church, I thought that she should have at least had some sort of self-doubt or questioned her decision to sleep with Grady almost immediately. It's presented, though, almost as an experiment for Eliza, which however, suits her personality and character.
Lang presents an angsty hero who is full of morally ambiguous awesome, and a smart heroine who isn't afraid to try new things. Some of the funniest moments were when Eliza tried to "fit in" to regular conversation and just ended up totally confounding the folks around her. I liked that she truly connected with one of the women they encountered on their trip.
A terrific ending, where once Eliza's sister is found, Grady intends to follow through on his original deal. Eliza's horror and Grady's feelings of self-disgust at his actions were well-written.
My only qualm with this book was that Eliza fell so quickly into bed with Grady without so much of a hint of insecurity or 2nd thought. Given her upbringing (which Lang points out that Eliza doesn't believe in) I still thought that she should have been a little hesitant. Otherwise I really enjoyed this book. I liked that there was a morally ambiguous hero, and the heroine accepted him for himself. And a very interesting premise. I'd like to see the LDS portrayed as something other than complete evil, and maybe in the next book it will be, since the next heroine is more religious than Eliza. Looking forward to it.