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Garters by Pamela Morsi

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Garters

Pamela Morsi
Historical Romance
Published in 1992

H/h - Cleavis Rhy/Esme Crabb
Setting: Tennessee, 1888.

Read in Apr, 2012.
My rating:

                                             [spoiler alert]

Garters had a good story and some great moments to go with it. As I always do, I loved the way PM voiced her story along with the characters. Even though for the first few chapters I wasn’t sure what to think of Esme and her behavior, I soon found myself enjoying the book. And I LOVED Cleav. He was soo sexy and adorable and I ended the book with much sighing on my part!

Esme’s life as a mountain girl was something to be read. It was plain crazy! Her father is the laziest man of the town, good looking but a ne’er-do-well, who loves fiddling all day long. It was kinda over the top for me, how can a person be sooo lazy?! So are Esme’s twin elder sisters; pretty, featherbrained and lazy. It was a wonder to me, how their life went by only God knows. Esme’s mother died a long time ago, when she was young. Since she isn’t as pretty as her sisters, Esme thought the practicality and smartness God gave her was to be used to take care of her family, somehow... anyhow. She took it as her sole responsibility, that somehow she’ll see her family living happily, with full belly, in a big house. Oh, BTW, did I mention that they lived in a shack, which is actually a cave? Er, don’t ask! Anyway, what caught my attentions was Esme’s blind faith and innocence, which sometimes bordered on plain foolishness. I got that she wasn’t used to meeting a lot of people and did care for whatever philosophy her father taught her about life and being lazy. Lol Now, her dumb sisters has taken up with Armon, a wild boy; very good looking and a ne’er-do-well, just like their father. Esme won’t see her sisters’ (he’s ‘courting’ both sisters) lives go to ruin with someone like Armon. The man Esme has is mind is Cleavis Rhy, the store-keeper of the town. Esme doesn’t know Cleav well and hasn’t really paid any attention to him before. But she was thinking of the big house he owns and his steady income (she assumed) from the store, which makes him great husband material. Since her sisters just wave (read: twitters) away her proposal of snaring Cleave, Esme decides she’ll have to do something herself. With the determination, she goes down to the town with her best dress, which is of course ragged and socks without garters with a pair of working boots, to see Cleav. Seeing him she does and Esme admires whatever she saw. She didn’t know that Cleav wasn’t actually as old as she thought him to be and he was quite good looking too. And when he smiled a little smile asking her what is it she wants, Esme’s heart flutters like a butterfly. Esme Crabb decides this is the man she’s going to have and so she blurts out if he wants to marry her. Um, yah well, Esme thinks girl’s can court a man if he doesn’t come to her/like her... er, hmm, so this questions startles Cleav so badly that Esme is embarrassed and changes her words. Then Esme thinks that a man like Cleav won’t like to be married to a plain, ignorant hill girl like her and she’s a bit disappointed. As strolling in the store, Esme’s socks keep sliding down her legs, without any thought, she pulled her skirt up and takes care of it. Suddenly, she realizes another pair of eyes are watching her too and there isn’t any customer in the store. One look at Cleav and how he’s devouring the sight of her legs, Esme’s smiles a secret smile. Oh, she’s found something to entice Mr. Rhy with and soon her plan will fall into place.

Cleav was educated from a good university out of this small-town. His store-keeping was basically his father’s business and when he died, Cleav came back to take care of it and his mother. But what Cleav actually loves to do is rearing and researching fish. Yes, he’s a pisciculturist and dreams that someday his work will be featured nationwide, even worldwide. His social busybody mother of course doesn’t like this. Cleav isn’t suppose to be doing this foolishness, according to her, but get married to the preacher’s beautiful, Bible quoting daughter, Sophrona who’s a true gentlewoman. Cleav is trying to abide by this. He likes Sophrona and courting her at the moment. Someday, he plans to marry her too. So, his life is planned more or less, until Esme Crabb happens to him. Oh, those scenes were kinda funny, Esme’s thorough perusal or ‘intense research’ of Cleav. Cleav never even thought of giving this hill girl a second thought, until the day he saw her long legs, as if those just came out of his wildest fantasies. Cleav can’t shake the picture out of his head. It doesn’t help that the girl in question is everywhere he goes and pulls up her skirt at every chance. Um, yah, I know... Esme was resolute in her campaign to have Cleav and give her family a good life. No, she wasn’t greedy at all. She just wanted what was best for her lazy bunch. Anyway, as she kept on with her antics, following Cleav to the store to his house, from there to his fish ponds… Esme was daydreaming away about being Mrs. Rhy. At first, Cleav thought it was a bit funny. He liked her and talked to her, even showed her his fish ponds in which she took immense interest in. Cleav didn’t really have anyone to talk about his interests since everyone would politely try to smother a yawn when he was talking about his fish, so Esme’s interest was welcome. To Esme, by knowing his life, his routine and his work, she was doing him a favor… after all, she’s going to be his wife and it would only help Cleav in the long run! See what I meant by foolishness?

At first, her infatuation thrilled Cleave but as Esme’s perusal became more and more prominent, Cleav begins to feel irritated. Esme is there, everywhere. One day as he was strolling on his ponds, he finds her there, trying to fix her socks and Cleav finally snaps, kind of that is. He, in specific words, tells her that there would NEVER be anything between him and her. I would’ve been embarrassed but Esme, well, she’s made of something entirely different. It doesn’t really disturb her since she thinks Cleav just needs to see the fact that they’ll be together someday and so, she makes more plans. To Cleav’s utter annoyance, Esme takes up working in his store, without his permission and it seems like Cleav can’t do a thing about it. His mother is also asking questions. It doesn’t help that he actually wants her, very bad but marriage to her isn’t an option and however loony Esme appears, she deserves a good husband. They had kissed once or twice before and it proved be a very bad idea since the spark between them is just amazing. With Sophrona, Cleav doesn’t feel anything like this. She’s a gentlewoman and Cleav treats her with utmost respect. So yes, Esme just stuck on... like glue. Once, she spies on Cleav and Sophrona alone. She challenges Cleav about kissing Sophrona the way he kissed her, all hot and lusty. At first, Cleav is distracted by her long legs (yes again) sticking out of the tree under which he and Sophrona sat. Then when his fiancée went inside the house for something, Cleav speaks up to give her a piece of his mind but instead comes up with a challenge, which ends in disaster. He gets Sophrona’s sturdy slap in return. Oh that poor baby!

While he’s annoyed, Cleav still can’t be that cruel to Esme. One day, the townspeople decide to give charity baskets to the Crabb family. While her dumb father and sisters are very happy, Esme feels ashamed. Cleav notes this and admires her courage but that doesn’t excuse her peskiness though. And Esme here trying hard to go along with this courtship thing (from her POV mind you!) and trying to keep that Armon from her twittering sisters, both of whom are of a mind to marry him. Esme knows very well Armon is up to no good at all. Her father, as usual, isn’t any help... not even when it comes to looking after his daughters from wild hill boys. Ugh, he was a piece of something I tell you. The townspeople have already begun gossiping about Cleav and Esme and what their relationship might be. It seems like the women and the busybodies are more on Esme’s side, thinking Cleav is taking advantages of her. Oh the poor babe! It was just odd and funny, that he was being condemned for things he didn’t even do, though thought about no doubt. One day, trouble happens. Esme and Cleav have this squabble about her ‘showing her legs off’ symptom. Even though both were guilty (one showing off and the other having a good look at them every time that happens), they still fight. At one point, Cleav just grabs a pair of new garters and gives it to Esme so that she won’t show her legs off again (and drive him insane in the process). Esme is genuinely happy with Cleav’s gesture. Emotions overwhelms her and while she was going out to try it on in some secluded spot, the towns most notorious gossip and busybody comes in at that exact moment. A flustered Esme kind of blurts out about them and things change drastically for them both. Apparently, this kind of gesture means something immoral is going on and now Cleav has to marry Esme to save her reputation.

Esme is very unhappy about the turn of things. She wanted this man, maybe even thought of trapping him in a way but this is definitely NOT what she dreamt of. Cleav, well, he kinda resigns himself to this. Even though he would’ve never married Esme normally, he thinks it won’t be that bad; she’s smart and funny, she works hard. Cleav genuinely thinks that Esme deserves a good life and then, he actually wants her. His mother isn’t happy. Sophrona’s parents won’t let him see her and Esme’s lazy arse father shows some balls for the first time, thinking Cleav has wronged Esme. It was kinda annoying but with Cleav’s reassurance, he gives in. They marry afterwards. Cleav’s mother doesn’t attend. At night, Armon and some other wild hill boys takes shivaree on the new bride and groom. It takes a while and some work to get the boys demands and ‘rescue’ Esme from them. Esme was spitting mad at Armon, who was already drunk. It was some scene but they make it back home. They have a fight again and Cleav’s mother comes down. She helps Esme to clean herself up with loads of uppity crap about how she’s not suited for Cleav. These comments struck a chord inside Esme and she begins thinking, for the first time, that she might’ve made a mistake because she’s actually never thought past the marriage. That day, Cleav doesn’t come to her and Esme is hurt and disappointed. But their relationship doesn’t go on like this for long. In fact, the next day Esme plans something for Cleave and goes to the store. Ummm, that was a sexy scene because Cleav was sexy and quite insane about Esme. When she keeps on talking about the new garters and how she’s not really wearing anything underneath her clothes.... You get the picture. It was funny, sexy and sweet, their love-play. Afterwards, their relationship only deepens. Cleav starts calling Esme hillbaby, it turned me into mush every time he called her that. *sigh* It appears that both understands each-other like no one else. Cleav likes this sharing of his hopes and dreams with Esme. Marriage doesn’t seem that bad after all.

Soon there are misunderstandings. One day, Esme kind of (totally unintentionally) blurts out about her original plan about Cleav big white house and how she wanted her family in here. Cleav doesn’t understand at first as to why she wants them here. But as Esme explains, he becomes insecure. Cleav thinks Esme didn’t really love him the way he originally thought she did (she told him already that she loves him). That, this really was infatuation and a need to save her family. Even though Cleav is hurt and becomes distant, he understands where this stemmed from. He has seen how hardworking and responsible Esme is and the sorry place she used to live. Esme is also puzzled by Cleav’s behavior but she takes it as Cleav’s disappointment in her. She hasn’t yet gotten over the fact that she is still that ignorant, plain hill girl who doesn’t really deserve a man like Cleav. But, as promised, Cleav takes his father and sisters-in-law in. This also dampens their privacy to a great level. But Esme’s father takes the family by storm. Cleav’s mother begins to enjoy his fiddling and starts calling him brother. She’s more relaxed these days and does a lot of gardening. It’s like she has gotten herself back. The twins are still twittering around with Armon and Esme decides it’s time to take care of this problem.

Sometimes afterwards, with a very sexy interlude, Cleav and Esme resolve their marital problem to some extent. It was just that they couldn’t simply keep themselves apart which I found really great to read. Their chemistry was amazing. Notice that their misunderstanding about each-other was still there. Cleav thinks he’ll make Esme love him and Esme is determined to do something about her ignorant mountain ways. Esme feels that even though they’re together again, Cleav is holding himself back. It wasn’t like before. One day, there was this festival in the town. Esme and the others of her family take part in it, along with the rest of the townspeople. Her sisters are still with Armon and a plan forms in Esme’s mind. If Sophrona slapped Cleav for a paltry kiss, what would she do to Armon if Esme did something that pushes Armon towards her direction? Hmm, good thinking Esme! She does that and Armon is totally into the idea. Sophrona is not only beautiful but her, er, bosoms are stuffs of legend. Cleav was also kind of enchanted by those. lol :p How can Armon deny this lure? Esme makes him think Sophrona has been pining away for him for a longtime but hasn’t had the courage to come forward. I don’t really know what happened next but it seems Armon makes it his life’s work to peruse Sophrona this time. I REALLY wish there were scenes between Armon and Sophrona because they were so opposite of each-other, it would’ve been such fun to see them finally falling. I felt cheated that there wasn’t any, at all. Very soon, these two give the town the biggest surprise of them all. One fine day at church, Mr. and Mrs. Hightower make their first appearance, with everyone hooting in congratulations while Sophrona’s mother faints at the horror of it! Armon, apparently, has changed his wild ways because he has finally found his woman. Esme’s sisters began mourning the fickleness of Armon’s devotion. It was just funny I tell you, the whole drama of it. Even Esme is surprised. When she planned this, it never even occurred to her that these two actually might fall for each-other.

After a few days, Cleav gets a mail from some of his fellow pisciculturists from some reputed university, who want to have a look at his babies, aka, his work. Cleav is in seventh heaven, finally his work is getting the recognition it deserves! But when he breaks the news to Esme, she’s totally, utterly horrified. OMG, her husband’s gentleman friends are coming and they’ll find an ignorant hill girl instead of a sophisticated gentlewoman as his wife. It was a horror for Esme for sure. She just didn’t want to be a disappointment to Cleav, didn’t want to botch his hard work and reputation to his friends. I tell you, even though I found Esme loony for the better part of the book, these last parts of it I found so endearing because of Esme’s determination of becoming a ‘lady’, only for Cleav. She still loves Cleav of course and she’d do anything to make him happy, in the hopes that he’ll at least care for her a little. Esme thinks Cleav will never be able to love a girl like her. She even asks Sophrona to come over and teach her and her dumb family members the ways of the nobility. Sophrona is only too happy to help her for she’s grateful to Esme for the push she gave to her dearest Armon. Only, Esme doesn’t know yet that Cleav already loves her just the way she is but he’s also scared and feels insecure. Poor guy was just starving for Esme’s love. Oh the sweet misery!

In the ending chapters, while they tackled the guests, with the twins taking a goodly amount of interest in them, Esme and Cleav are finally able to see things clearly through some ups and downs. To me, it was bound to happen sooner or later since the love they had for each-other couldn’t really be kept hidden. I was really happy for these two. Great book, no matter how it started off. Oh Cleav was a keeper for sure! Esme is one lucky girl! 4 stars. *sigh*

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I love to read in my spare time and do reviews the books I read. My blog Punya Reviews just turned 6 in 2017 and still going strong. I love music and traveling. Sometimes, I wish I could live inside a book, having my own HEA. :)
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