Chasing Rainbows - Victoria Lynne Western romances are always good entertainment. Horses. Gunfights. Tumbleweed. Horses. Guys who probably didn't bathe much, but you pretend they're hot anyway. Outlaws. Horses. You know, it's more exciting than my list suggests. Chasing Rainbows is that quintessential western romance, following a rugged professional gambler and a spirited female ex-outlaw on adventures until the female ex-outlaw experiences some sort of mental castration that makes her pliable and subservient. This western, however, is notable for its hero, Jake, who flounces and flails halfway through the story like a legendary Johanna Lindsey heroine. He loses his shit so easily that I'm pretty sure Outlaw Annie may have to add an extra outhouse to their residence to accommodate all his feelz.

An Overly-Simplified Summary of Chasing Rainbows
After breaking from the Mundy Gang when their outlaw activities turned violent, Little Orphan Annie (she really is an orphan) is nearly hanged for her troubles. When the execution fails, the sheriff makes up his own rules (as they will) and sends Annie under the escort of professional gambler Jake Moran to Cooperton, where Annie owns a hotel that she won in a shooting bet. Jake isn't escorting her out of the kindness of his heart, though. He wants to pump Annie for information during their journey because he believes that a member of the Mundy Gang framed him for murder. Annie says that the Mundy Gang is dead, but nobody believes her because the gang is still robbing banks. Annie tells Jake that she's living an honest life now, but he doesn't believe her because the plot needs conflict. Can Outlaw Annie escape the shadows of her past and live the respectable life she desires with all her heart? Can Jake figure out that a simple conversation with Annie will relieve his conflicted feelz?

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"I'm a stereotype!!!"

Annie's a cool character. She made the best of a crappy situation and took care of her adopted family as a means for survival. Although I often wonder why she bothers, she dedicates a lot of time to bettering her circumstances. She wants to be treated like a real lady and will undergo any humiliation to get to that point. There's a scene where Annie attends a country dance alone so she can learn to act like a proper lady. The people there are horrid cows to her, cutting her and making snide comments, but Annie fights tears and lingers there just to keep her dignity. This scene about an outsider trying desperately to belong was my favorite in the book because it drives home how difficult it is for a woman like Annie to keep her chin up and carry on instead of flouncing like a little bitch.

On the subject of flouncing little bitches ...

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"I'm also a stereotype!"

I give Jake a hard time, but he's really not that bad. As a hero, I give him two thumbs up. Despite his descent into Drama Queen Land, he manages to save the day several times. What more can I really ask of the guy? Jake's been grazing around the West since the war, in which he fought on the losing side. Take THAT, Rebels - bwahahahaha! He makes a decent living for himself with gambling and only recently came into major trouble with the whole framed-for-murder thing. Of course, for a Wanted Man, Jake moves around with ease. I tended to forget that conflict even existed until it came up in his inner monologue. Jake moves the love story plot forward with his complete distrust of poor Annie. The bastard coaxes her to tell him ALL of her secrets, but he doesn't tell her anything. He lies and judges her and lies some more and throws a tantrum when he discovers incriminating information about her yet fails to TALK WITH HER about it.

Indeed, Chasing Rainbows contains a Big Misunderstanding. Sure, it was entertaining for Jake to flail around with his britches in a bunch, but his bastardly (it's a word NOW) ways made the ending difficult for me. The resolution is too simple, too easily wrapped-up, and depends too much on Annie's mental castration.

I still enjoyed this story, though not as much as Lynne's [b:Captured|2483247|Captured|Victoria Lynne||2490449]. If not for the rushed resolution, I'd give this 3 stars. At least there was a gunfight. And sex with genuine emotion. That may be what I miss in romance these days - action and sex that actually means something. Oh god, modern fiction is turning me into the uptight and matronly relative telling you to "save your special gift for a special man". Whatevs. So be it. I like sex in romance to be either ROMANTIC or LOL-worthy, and Lynne delivers every time.