Conflicted feelings. In fact, I'm kind of pissed this lost its magic for me. I was ready to sing its praise for being the book to break me out of my reading slump these past few weeks. It was still pretty good, though. For the first 60%, I was absolutely loving it. It was 5 star territory for me, seeing the very, very slow development between Cord and Anne, brought together by such horrible circumstances. And I triumphed with them over their small victories and steadfast refusal to give in to everyone's racist treatment and opinions of them. I didn't find out until after that this had been the author's first novel. That would explain the plain uneven and frustrating characterizations of the racist families of both Cord and Anne. They treated Cord and Anne like crap, repeatedly. And even when it seemed like they were going to finally admit they had misjudged the entire situation entirely from the start, they ultimately kept reverting back to their racist and judgmental selves. This happened again and again and again the entire story. I gave up on them long before that, and I would have been completely on board if Cord and Anne just up and left everybody behind in that town already.
There was even more heavy handed emotional manipulation in depicting Anne's father as the absolute demon from hell in order to feel more sorry for her-plus oh gosh, the entire nonsensical, rushed [spoiler] kidnapping plot [/spoiler] leading to the most anticlimactic rescue scene everrr
. The ending helped make up for it-until last minute introduction of Cord's long [spoiler] estranged sister [/spoiler] to pack in just a tad bit more drama.
Other than that, this was a great, slow, sweeping romance. Cord absolutely stole my heart, and he is a big reason why I am giving this four stars (3.5 rounded up). And even if the last 20% sucked, I can't quite forget how immersed I was in the first half.
Plus I found that I have a taste for western romances, so I'll be burying myself in this genre a little more. :)