Friday, May 21, 2010

Review: One Dependable Man (The McBrides of Texas, Book I) by Rita Thedford

Get out your fan and prepare to sweat and pant right along with Sunny in this steamy tale of a woman tired of being let down by the men in her life. The forecast calls for searing days and blazing nights when sexy, determined Matt McBride saunters into Happy's Homestyle Diner and begins serving the special of the day while proving to Sunny that he IS one hell of a dependable man . . . in more ways than you can imagine. If only HE were on the menu!

Author Rita Thedford is new to me, but I found this ebook online and decided to read it. I'm glad I did. It is a fun story and well worth the price, time and effort to put this on my eReader and make it a part of my eLibrary.

Matt McBride, second son of the ranching McBrides of Texas, driving his shiny, black, "bad boy" pick-up into the parking lot/truck stop called Happy's Homestyle Diner, stirs up a cloud of dust--but then again, that's always the way during a west Texas drought. He is tall, dark and handsome, polite, careful, with shoulders so wide that they barely clear a normal doorjam. He is faced with a difficult dilemma: how does he tell the work-weary sister of Happy Forester that her diner, her life investment of work and money, has been sold out from under her by her brother to pay his gambling debts--and sold to Matt. Matt has a debt to settle as well: Happy was the man that saved his life several years back when Matt was gang-attacked on a dark street in Dallas. He has heard so many stories about Sunny: how she has been faithful to this family enterprise at the cost of her personal life and almost everything else she has ever had. Happy knows well that he has let her down, just like their father did. But he is too selfish and weak to do anything else. Now that Happy is dead, Sunny thinks the diner is hers. Matt doesn't know how to tell her otherwise. Yet Matt has been raised by a father that told him that a man faces his problems and responsibilities head on--never running, never whining. In addition, Matt has heard so much about Sunny that he is just a little bit infatuated with her. So from the time he walks into the diner and see Sunny in the flesh, tired and worn though she may be, he is smitten. He had never had any trouble charming the ladies--" . . . his mama always said he was handsome as sin and just as full of the devil."

Sunny Forester is a west Texas woman: tough, hard working and independent. She has carried the burden of the family truck stop since she was in her teens. With her father's death and her brothers abandonment, Sunny has come to believe that there is NOT ONE MAN upon whom she can rely. And her personal experience is all she has. So she works hard, pinches pennies, pays her bills, and pours her lifeblood and energy into a diner that is, for lack of a better term, falling down around her ears, and she feels overwhelmed and helpless to prevent it. Matt comes in with a proposition: in payment to a debt to her brother, he is in town for several weeks and he will work at the diner--help out, serve, repair, do whatever without pay. Sunny is suspicious but Matt gives her enough information about his relationship with her brother that she allows him to proceed. The longer he is in this situation, however, the worse his problem. How does he tell her that he is the new owner? And the better he knows Sunny and the closer he gets to her as a friend, how does he get her to accept him as the man in her life?

Ms Thedford has written a love story that is full of real, believable people. She has set up the classic conflict from the first page, and even though this is a full-length novel, she makes the development of the plot interesting. There is also a genuine bad guy: a stalker that is bent on taking Sunny either for himself or doing away with her before anyone else gets her. There is the tension between the growing attachment between Sunny and Matt over against the truth of Matt's relationship to the diner--that Sunny doesn't own it anymore. There are the ongoing difficulties with Sunny's pride, her disillusionment with humans of the male persuasion, and her belief that her life will never go anywhere except to work, sleep, and then work some more.

In the course of the story the reader meets the old cook--tough and loyal, good at what he does, the rock solid foundation upon which Sunny's business rests. You meet three old ladies who are willing to work as part-time waitresses to supplement their social security income, who have "been around" and are very comfortable with themselves and others. You will meet Matt's parents who are still very much in love with one another after all this time and who are the models of what a solid, genuine, caring human being should be. You'll meet the oldest brother briefly, a former law enforcement officer and a grieving and hurting widower who just can't seem to get past his wife's death, and you'll meet Matt's wild, winsome, brash, rockem, sockem sister who is as tall as most men, can ride and rope with the best of them, carries a pistol and knows how to use it, and is so beautiful the ranch hands can hardly do their work when she is around.

I have to own up to clicking with Sunny and her weariness. Having been in food service in my younger years I know how bone tired one can get with the endless hours of work, the employment problems, dealing with customers, and putting up with the fact that one really has no personal life outside the restaurant. I feel for her! But I also like the fact that she is gutsy and willing, eventually, to move into dangerous territory--giving a relationship with Matt a try.

I like Matt a whole bunch--where was he when I was young? He is such a solid and balanced man, not full of himself, willing to do grunt work and wipe down tables and serve coffee and fix the grill and close up when Sunny is so tired she probably couldn't find the lock on the back door. He loves his mama and respects his daddy--he's not afraid to hug his brother and clear the table after supper. Gosh, what a find!! He just strikes me as being an all-round nice guy that sees a woman who makes him come alive, respects and admires her for all the right reasons and he want her in his life.

Now I have one bone to pick with the publishers: The cover is dreadful!!!!! With all the bare-chested gorgeous males one encounters in the romance paperback scene, why couldn't there have been a beautiful, tanned, bare-chested male, complete with well-worn jeans, a thumb hooked in his front pocket, chewing on a piece of straw, with a dusty Stetson pulled down over his brow? I don't know what this cover is all about! Oh well . . . perhaps this is one book where the heat is in the pages of the story and not on the cover. It has not always been so in some books I have read.

I think you'll like this story. It is about bigger-than-life people in some ways, (they say everything is bigger and better in Texas), but it is also about ordinary people problems, too. If you like a really good love story, you'll like this book. I hope Ms Thedford is planning to give us Book II soon if she hasn't already. I give this book a rating of 4.25 out of 5.


Tracy said...

So was she completely pissed off when she hears she doesn't own the diner cuz I can hear that argument a mile away!

You're right. Not only is the cover completely unrelated to the story but it's photoshopped badly.

Sounds like a good book - thanks for the heads up!

Dr J said...

Tracy: She was indeed PO'd and stomped out of the diner -- it was after a bad storm had trashed the place and Matt revealed he had contracted with a builder to do a complete rennovation. Things are pretty rocky after that for a while. Really good book, I think. Predictable, but so what? I liked the people -- just really good to see them interacting.

Regina Carlysle said...

Hi Dr. J! I had no idea you'd reviewed One Dependable Man and thanks for the nice words! I'm just terribly sorry the 'thanks' is belated. You'll see my name pop up as Regina Carlysle but I am also Rita Thedford. Such is the life of a writer with pen names!You recently reveiwed my EC title Trouble in a Texas. This west Texas chick thanks you for taking the time to read.

Regina Carlysle said...

Meant to say Trouble in a Stetson. Sorry, it's late and my eyes are starting to cross. :-)