Expanding My Horizons – Romance (Gasp) Book Review of Ryan’s Hand by Leila Meacham

What I’m going to say is most likely going to be a very unpopular opinion – I don’t like romance books.  Over the years I have tried several different authors/romance sub-genres and it was always a DNF (did not finish) for me.  So why am I writing this review??

At the end of last year when I set my Goodreads challenge for 2018, I also set myself a challenge of reading more diversely when it came to genres.  I mostly read literary fiction, mystery/thriller, non-fiction and classics.  Last year I stepped outside the box and tried steam-punk (love it!!).  This year I have dived into graphic novels (again, really enjoying the experience) so it was time for me to give romance books another try.

Leila Meacham was an author that I was familiar with having read her historical sagas (Roses, Tumbleweeds, Somerset and Titans).  They weren’t my favorite books in my library, but I enjoyed the stories as I found them fondly reminiscent of the 1980’s TV show Dallas.  Book shopping one day, I found Ryan’s Hand – a book that I was not aware of.  It turns out that this is a republished book that was written in the early 1980’s.  As the book is clearly marked as a romance, I figured that this was my chance to dip my toes into the romance waters again.

The book begins in Boston where the protagonist, Cara Martin, is best friends with Ryan Langston, who is dying.  Ryan originally is from Texas where he is half-owner of a successful ranching/oil business with his brother, Jeth Langston.  When Ryan’s will is read, it turns out that he left his half of the business to Cara with the proviso that she must live for one year on the ranch with Jeth before her share will vest.  Of course, Jeth is furious as not only was he not aware that Ryan was dying but upon hearing of his death, he assumed that he would be the beneficiary of Ryan’s half of the business. Of course, we all know where this story goes but I have to say that I enjoyed the journey nonetheless.

I started to question why I enjoyed this particular romance and not others and I realized that was because it was a “stripped down version” of a romance – in other words, there was no sex, just romance.  When I have tried other romance books, one of the things that always frustrated me was I would just be getting really invested in the characters and the story and then it seemed like the prerequisite “sex scene” had to come along that at the end of the day, didn’t really add any value to the story as far as I was concerned. If I really wanted to read soft porn, I could easily find and read it on the Internet for free so why am I paying to read it in a book??

With this book being written in the early 1980’s and no re-write being done, it is a bit dated in that personal cell phones didn’t exist, nor did the Internet.  Cara and Jeth refer to each other as Miss Martin and Mr. Langston which can get a bit old after a while and Jeth needs to be educated about the #metoo movement, however, even with these small issues, I still found it an enjoyable three-star read.

Ryan's Hand


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