|The Loner is the first in Geralyn Dawson's "Good Luck Grooms" series. The title of the series may have changed, but the basic concept, story and characters are pretty much the same. If anything, Dawson is losing her touch. Or perhaps I am losing interest in seeing the same old thing.
Logan Grey earned the nickname "Lucky" when he was one of the few to survive a flash flood. The nickname stuck. His adventures in an orphanage and as a hired gun did not help matters. Never mind that he did not consider himself lucky at all. Who, after knowing the truth, would? Still, Logan is willing to bank on his name when an almost-total stranger arrives in town and insists she is his wife. Not only that. They have a teenage son who desperately needs his help.
When Caroline Kilpatrick married Logan Grey more than a decade earlier, she did not think he would disappear after their wedding night. She found herself pregnant and, once her gambling father died, homeless. Fortunately for her, Ben and Suzanne Whitaker took her in. When that same Ben needs her help, she does not hesitate to lie. Because it's not Caroline's and Logan's son Will who has run off to Black Shadow Canyon to look for long-hidden gold among godless outlaws. It's Ben.
Needless to say, Caroline's little lie is the Big Secret that keeps the couple apart for a good portion of the book. The rest of the time it's Logan's immature behavior. In between, Caroline and Logan deal with bad guys (and gals), tornados, and their mutual desire.
One reason why I've liked Dawson's books in the past is her characters. She does such a good job with likeable rogues and mischievous women that no matter how irritating their attitude and how silly their antiques, their charming smiles or touching sighs soon win me over. It did not work this time. Logan's explanation for walking out on Caroline just did not wash. It certainly does not excuse his refusal to grow up. Caroline was not that much better. Given what she thought of him, why did she even imagine he would care about their son? How did she think he would react once the truth was known? Both spend some time beating themselves for the consequences of their acts. Even that did not hurt them enough—at least, not in my humble opinion.
As for their adventures in the Texan desert, too much of it sounded like a cheesy spaghetti Western. The bad guys had a distinguishing mark: they were not only ugly and mean. They were so stupid even a fifteen-year-old kid and a senile old-timer could outwit them. In fact, it was quickly obvious that Caroline didn't even need Logan and his luck. Which made all her lies and secrets even less understandable.
To be fair, the book is not all bad: there were enough surprises along the way to capture my attention, and a few scenes had me chuckling. I can also see why some might even warm to Logan's cheeky charm and why others might sympathize with his plight. Still, these familiar stories are beginning to be tiresome. I, for one, am ready for a break.