Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Mackenzie's Mountain by Linda Howard

I tried to find a synopsis from both and but all they said was..Wolf Mackenzie is a loner who has a way with horses and a deep distrust of outsiders - until one woman dares to venture onto Mackenzie's Mountain. Schoolteacher Mary Elizabeth Potter is determined to keep Wolf's teenage son from abandoning his dreams . . . and finds herself rescuing Wolf along the way. 

Now, I don't know about you but that isn't a synopsis to me. That is more of a generic sentence used probably more times then not to describe hundreds of romance novels.

So, let me tell you a little more about the book.

Mackenzie's Mountain was written in 1989 by the great Linda Howard. It has been a tried and true romance recommended by one romance lover to another for years. It is the first book in the Mackenzie saga.

Wolf Mackenzie is a quite man who has isolated himself just on the outskirts of a small one horse town on what he considers "his" mountain. The town distrusts him and treats him like a common criminal and in return he rarely ventures to town and doesn't really care to mingle anyway. His 16 year old son Joe has learned to be indifferent towards the town just as his dad does because the town treats him the same way they treat his dad. When Joe decides that he can't even get a decent education because of the poor opinion the town has on the Mackenzies he opts for dropping out of school to help his dad train horses. The new school teacher has other plans and makes it her mission to get Joe back into school and educate him into a better life. And if she has to spend more time around Wolf Mackenzie that wouldn't be such a bad thing either.

My Thoughts.....

After having this book in my TBR pile for years and years I signed up for a reading challenge where I challenged myself to read 24 books (which I pre-selected before the start of the year) from this pile. This was one of the books I put on that list. It's about time I read it too. As I mentioned it has been almost a "staple" of romance readers top favorites for years now and it has been recommended to me time and time again.

What I liked....

I went at it was extremely high expectations and overall I was not disappointed at all. Wolf is an interesting character. Proud, strong, intelligent. It first appears that he is antisocial and is maybe not the hero that you expect from a romance novel. And to tell the truth he isn't. What he is, is a man who has isolated himself based on the reactions from other people for self preservation.

I think what complicates the story is Joe, Wolf's son. At first I had a hard time with the concept of Wolf letting his son drop out of school to help with the horses. That seemed so....wrong. A 16 year old should never drop out of school. I know it happens. My rose colored glasses broke years ago. But I am used to reading books where it is very black and white. Good parents raise their kids to go to college. They raise smart, funny and beautiful children. Bad parents run out on their kids. They let them drop out of school and do who knows what because bad parents don't care. This book does not fall into the black or white. Once I accepted that I was able to really embrace this book.

Mary is a strong female character who is intelligent yet knows her limitations. She sets her sights on getting Joe his education and like a bulldog she stubbornly refuses to give in. She also sets her sights on Wolf. She finds him attractive, intriguing and mistreated by town. She ends up being the Mackenzies' champion when it comes to staring down the town and putting the town folks in their place.

In addition to an interesting set of characters there is a little bit of a mystery and danger involved which always makes a story even better for me.

What I didn't like....

I didn't understand the big Tah-doo about Wolf being an Indian (Howard continued to refer to Wolf as either an Indian or a Breed...usually when either Wolf referred to himself or one of the town's people referred to him or Joe). Anyway, this book was written in the late 80's (on the cusp of the 90's) and was set as a contemporary romance. With this in mind, why on earth would an entire town and Wolf himself feel the need to continually point out his being Native American? And in such a negative way too (trust me on this....they do). It really confused me. In addition, Mary (although I really liked her character) was something straight out of the 1800's. She felt better in long dresses and sensible shoes. She is in her late 20's but yet still a virgin and I believe she thought herself a spinster.

Between Wolf being a "dirty Indian" and Mary being a spinster if it hadn't been for the fact that Mary drove a car up Mackenzie's Mountain in the opening I would have sworn I was reading an historical romance. Don't get me wrong, I love historicals, but this wasn't one and I think that any book should follow certain rules. This book was written about a 1990 relationship between a white woman and a Native American and I expect the attitude of the characters to reflect what is socially acceptable at that time. If a book were written about a white person dating an African American in 1950's America I would expect a small town of folks to be outraged and hateful (I am not condoning this, just acknowledging that this was the way things were at the time).

So, despite the weird little timeline issue I am overall pleased with the way the book progressed. I am glad I read it. Not sure if I would read it again. I think I might actually if she decided to release another Mackenzie book (there are 4 and I have only read 2 by the way). I think that I would read them all in anticipation (or a quick reminder of who and what each book was about) if she ever did release another one.

My rating 4.5 Stars.


Razlover's Book Blog said...

Hi Christina,

Great review and I'm glad you enjoyed reading "Mackenzie's Mountain". This is a very popular Howard book!

I love reading Linda's books but prefer her older ones compared to now! How about you which do you prefer?

I have some Howard books in my TBR pile too!

Christina said...

Hey! Thanks for reading my review. I haven't read but a dozen or so Howard books but I have found many of then winners but then I have found a few that I really didn't care for. I loved loved loved After the Night (which I did a review about by the way), A Game of Chance, Mr Perfect and Dream Man. I found Cry No More, To Die For and Drop Dead Gorgeous very good. I thought No You See Her and Ice pretty average (3 to 3.5 stars). I thought The Touch of Fire was not that good. The last few chapters were pretty redeeming though so it wasn't a total bomb for me. However An Independent Wife I thought was horrible. And I have yet to be able to actually finish Killing Time. I don't know why though. So for me, it kind of is all over as far as older vs. newer. All I know is I have found that in most cases I am going to really enjoy reading a book by her.