A Bravo’s Honor, by Christine Rimmer

25 Jun

A Bravo’s Honor, by Christine Rimmer

Part of the long running Bravo series, this is my second exposure to Ms Rimmer’s work. Just a few weeks ago I reviewed the previous title, The Bravo Bachelor, here. A western-flavored retelling of Romeo and Juliet (with the requisite romance genre happy ending), A Bravo’s Honor tells the story of Luke Bravo and Mercedes (Mercy) Cabrera.

He is the third son of Davis Bravo, the wealthy financier and patriarch of this particular branch of the large Bravo family. She is the adoptive daughter of Javier Cabrera. Both families have been sworn enemies for some sixty years, and while there haven’t been any duels recently, there seems to be plenty of bad blood-cause enough to avoid stirring the pot, so to speak.

Here is the back cover blurb:

Feuding Families. Secret Lovers?

Luke Bravo was stunned when Mercy Cabrera showed up in the middle of the night to treat his prize stud. The exotic girl he remembered had matured into a skilled vet-and a sultry, passionate woman he knew he should steer clear of at all costs.

Luke was a Bravo-reason enough to keep her distance. But Mercy had loved the rugged rancher since she was sixteen. And when their simmering attraction led to a night of intense passion, she knew she’d risk everything for a future together…

Bravo Family Ties – stronger than ever.

Where to start?

Even though both families live in San Antonio, a relatively large city, they take pains to avoid each other on those rare occasions when they find themselves attending the same social occasion. The younger generation is not uniformly convinced that a feud between the families makes any sort of sense (not the Middle Ages, after all) but comply with it out of consideration for their parents who, apparently, are rather set on maintaining the status quo.

When Luke and Mercedes come in contact as adults, though, they find it difficult to deny, let alone ignore, their mutual attraction. One would think that a few frank conversations between the different groups of adults involved, directly and indirectly, would clear things enough for these two to figure out whether anything permanent could come out of it.

Obviously, things are much more complicated than they appear-from long standing secrets to Mercedes’ sense of obligation towards her adoptive parents, to Luke’s reluctance to compromise his principles in order to accommodate her needs. Then there’s a bomb dropped in the middle of this minefield, and things get even more complicated.

Fair warning: I had issues with this novel that had little to do with the story (poor Ms Rimmer had the bad luck of my reading A Bravo’s Honor after a number of books with similar issues)

Putting that aside, there is plenty in this story that irks me.

Generally speaking, I don’t care for books in which a character has been “in love” with another character for years-even though they haven’t exchanged more than a hundred words during all that time. A Bravo’s Honor is not an exception to this quirk of mine.

In the universe I inhabit, a person cannot love another person if they don’t know him or her. Infatuation? Hell, yeah. Lust at first sight? Have seen it often. But love, the kind that lasts? Sorry, no can buy.***

Much worse when this infatuation starts in the early teens or so, yet the adult version of the character maintains that that childish feeling was “twu wuv”. Fairy tales much?

Then there’s the fact that, while telling us that neither of these two characters plays musical beds with strangers, they jump in bed together after a couple (very brief) interactions. It is not until after the sexxing that these two actually sit down and talk about the feud, their parents, what they want from any sort of potential relationship, etc. You know, the kind of things rational adults should probably discuss before jumping in bed?-particularly when there’s a history of bad blood between their families?

Now, of course, these kinds of conflicts are what makes a romance novel, right? It’s a bit contrived, as far as it goes, but it can work. In this case, it just didn’t work for me. I didn’t believe the supposed depth of the characters’ affection for each other based on what little time they had together.

Interestingly, it is not that I didn’t like the characters, I did, particularly Luke. It’s just that I could not suspend my disbelief long enough to enjoy their story.

With regret, A Bravo’s Honor gets 5 out of 10 from me.

*** I imagine there are plenty of people out there who are going to tell me that they married the person they fell in love with at first sight and that they have lived happily with him/her for decades thereafter. Fair enough-allow me to ask whether a) you married the moment you met him/her, and whether b) you didn’t discover countless things, between meeting and marrying, that you guys needed to compromise on and learn to work around. That process is what I consider “getting to know each other” and I reserve the right to believe that, without it, there’s no such thing as “love” for another person. YMMV, of course.

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