Lots of folks make fairly spur-of-the-moment decisions that lead them to happily ever after. I know a woman who dated her soldier husband exactly three months before they tied the knot and embarked on 40-plus years of marriage that ended only when her man passed on recently.
So it's not so unrealistic to read a romance in which the hyper real-time nature of the beast speeds up a trip to the alter to include about a week of courtship, like the one between pretty model Diana Palmer and rodeo star/rancher Lije Masters. Diana and Lije learn the meaning of a slightly altered version of the old adage, "Marry in haste, repent at leisure," in Janet Dailey's very sweet, home-and-hearth warming "Santa in a Stetson."
Diana Palmer's a successful model on a Southwestern "rodeo" photo shoot when she meets the plain speaking, intensely commanding cowboy who turns her head like no guy she's met. A survivor who was abandoned as an infant and grew up without parents or family, Lije Masters feels like home and seems like family. So rather than leave after the shoot - and after Lije blows her off because he doesn't want to treat her like a buckle bunny - Diana stays, stakes her claim, and tells Lije she loves him.
For his part, Lije realizes Diana's looking like love,too, as well as a reason to quit the rodeo and head back to make a go of his ranch. But when they marry and Diana becomes depressed by the isolation of his mountain home - and the trials of housewifery - Lije realizes he's more worker than communicator, and he's not doing a great job of working out this "marriage thing."
Once Diana figures out a few things on her own - like how much strength she owns and how much she deserves from life and those around her - she takes charge of her destiny. But does she get a handle on things too late to save her marriage? And is a life with a man she barely knows really worth the fight?
Do you find the hyper real-time nature of romance timelines a believable necessity? Or does it get in the way of your suspending disbelief? How do you feel about a heroine who's not strong throughout an entire novel, and who's strength may only be subtly changed by the end?
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