Opening Line: He needed a woman. Bad."
I had a ton of problems with this book and I’m finding it really difficult to review because as much as this story confused me, annoyed me and downright offended me, in the end as much as I wanted to I just didn’t hate it. I did however breathe a sigh of relief when I finished.
Written in 1989 Mackenzie's Mountain is a contemporary romance however it reads and for the first 100 pages I thought it was a historical, taking place around 1890-1910. It takes place in small town Wyoming and has a Little House On the Prairie feel to it along with lots of prejudice and small minded gossip.
The heroine is a schoolteacher who has just moved to teach in their school house. She is plain in appearance with her hair in a bun, horn rimmed glasses, a shapeless dress, sensible shoes and zero life experience having been raised by her old fashioned Aunt (presumably in a cave). Mary in fact has never worn a pair of jeans and has definitely never been kissed. She is however clichéd with thoughts like this one;
"Only shameless hussies would wear a skirt without a proper petticoat underneath"
Yes she also speaks like she’s from the 1900’s and her character seemed stranger to me still when I realized it was meant to be 1989 (don’t know many people that wore petticoats in the late 80's)
Anyways Mary is concerned that one of her better students has quit school and goes to his home to find out why where she meets Wolf Mackenzie and this is when I started to get offended and these are the authors words Not mine. Wolf is an Indian and an angry Indian because he spent time in jail for a crime he didn’t commit and everyone in town hates and distrusts him. To make matters worse (in the authors mind) Wolf is also a half breed and Howard drills this into the readers head every couple of pages in case we forget our hero’s heritage. Now honestly… its 1989, do people really use words like half-breed anymore? Could the average person tell the difference? Have I just been living in happy land my entire life? This is uncomfortable.
Wolf feels his son doesn’t need schooling because he’s an Indian (cringe) Now after all the racist remarks which I somewhat forgave because I thought it was a historical this is when Joe, the heroes son suddenly declares that he wants to join the Air Force academy and fly jets. What?! Damn this really is a contemporary.
Mary then decides to tutor Joe and feels that even though (cringe) he’s a half breed he still has a pretty good chance of getting into the Air Force. Remember its 1989 in this backwards little town. For some weird reason Wolf is attracted to the mousy Mary and the meat of this story revolves around their growing relationship, him giving her savage looks and bedding her and the hunt for the man responsible for attacking women in town which Wolf is initially blamed for.
Now I could go on and on about all my issues with this silly/strange/offensive story but because its also such a reader favourite (I’m assuming with historical romance fans) I will also say that Wolf is a fantastic, sexy alpha hero and as annoying and clichéd as Mary is they still manage to share some steamy love scenes together. I also really liked Joe the wanna-be pilot son and it’s my understanding that his story is up next in Mackenzie's Mission.
As this was my first Linda Howard book I don’t know if writing historical characters in modern times is a trait of hers and as offensive as some of her writing was I did still enjoy her love scenes and easy flowing writing style. Howard just needs to pick one time genre and stick with it.