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Perfecting Amanda by Bonnie Dee

Friday, September 02, 2011

Perfecting Amanda

Bonnie Dee
Historical Romance/Erotica
Published in 2007

H/h - Spencer Teague/Amanda McCormick
Setting: Kansas, 1893.

Read in Aug, 2011.
My rating:

                                                            [spoiler alert]

Im SO hating to write Spencers name in the hero category because it was Travis who was more worthy of it IMO.

I think so far I haven’t read a Bonnie Dee book which was this awkward. Yah, all her books (I've only read M/F ones) have something very different , with an equally sweet hero who’s crazy about the heroine all through the book. But to me, Spencer doesn’t really qualify in that category. I didn’t like him for the better part of the book. In the end, I thought he might’ve redeemed himself but not enough for me to go cooing over him. And certainly not after I knew Travis and was SO hurt and pissed the way BD ‘conveniently’ got rid of him to pair Spencer up with Amanda. No, I just COULD NOT agree with this!

Amanda was a pen-pal to Travis, a farmer in Kansas, for sometimes now. She’s an orphan and the little glimpse we had of her life tells up, though her aunt and uncle took care of her, didn’t really put her needs over their own kids. She wanted to attend collage but she had to compromise for her cousins. Travis’s ad seemed like the thing and she answered back, fell in love with this man she’d never seen (only some description from his letters) and now, waiting in the station for him to pick her up. But Travis is late, which makes Amanda nervous. She talks to the station master who came to inquire and divulge a lot of the information regarding her relationship with her fiancé. Then suddenly, a man appears and introduces himself as Travis Baxter. Oh, he’s certainly handsome, tall and dark haired with vivid blue eyes- a description that matches with Travis. Amanda is thrilled to find her fiancé an attractive and seemingly charming man. It seems like he can’t keep his hands off her too (kissing and touching her). He says something about a broken wagon for his delay and proposes her to spend the night in a nearby hotel. Amanda’s head was totally cloudy about this little incident so she never really verifies anything about the man. Though from his conversation, some alarms ringed through her mind (like his obvious dislike for farming or how he only wants to know about her and not talk about himself) but in her cloudy state, she makes out some logics or the other. She drinks with him, not knowing what exactly Vodka is. Once in their room, more drinks and ‘Travis’ was very eager for her to take her dress off. Amanda thinks well, he’s going to be my husband tomorrow so WTH. And, you can guess what that led to. Oh, you have NO IDEA what I wanted to do to the said ‘Travis’!

The said ‘Travis’ or Spencer, is a scoundrel. I mean I have NO excuse to make him a nice guy coated with some ‘bada$$ dark chocolate’ over him. He is NOT a good guy. He gambles, cheats, steals and f*cks whores and barmaids. This is his motto of life- don’t root up in one place, new places hold new ‘adventures’ and new women to f*ck. Move on once you’re done. This afternoon, after winning a lot of money in some gambling, he was in the mood for some celebration. The pretty lady waiting for her unseen fiancé certainly seems the type he was in the mood to f*ck. It didn’t matter that he was going to dupe her, a virgin, a nice girl with her hopes and dreams. Didn’t matter what’s going to happen the next day because he’d be long gone by then and she’s just ‘an afternoon fun’ to him anyway. So he poses as Travis Baxter, lies to her, makes her drink strong liquor and takes her to a room under false name as a married couple. Lord I hated the sex scene(s). It was ‘choreographed’ so well, with just the right moves and words to dupe a naïve girl, I was speechless. But Spencer is a master of that, getting whatever he wants and it’s always in a dishonest way. He’s not fond of hard work, even coming from a bunch of miners. He ran away because he didn’t want to do the hard work and live his life mining. After the sex scene, I wished a STD upon Spencer. And, for the most part of the book I wished he died of one, even when he was suffering... I’ll come to the point soon. Having sex with the naïve virgin was good, I mean Spencer has had some great sex over the years and has a very conceited POV of his prowess as a lover but on the 2nd time, something happened and oh, it seemed different somehow with this girl. Really skunk? Me? Whatever! Anyway, the girl (or as he saw her- ‘the woman’) is so pleased, that she tells him she loves him (the fiancé remember?). I hated his sarcastic tone when she prattled away about their upcoming life together not knowing what’s waiting for her. And at dawn, he runs, writing her a note, without even mentioning his name. On the train, he dreams of a young girl telling him he’s a bad man and he needs to go back to her. Spencer is shocked, not undersatanding what’s happening to him.

Amanda wakes up to find that she’s been duped by a scoundrel. She’s so stunned and shocked, can’t imagine what to do now, how to talk about it to her fiancé. When she goes downstairs, the hotel manager tells her her ‘husband’ has paid the bills. She takes a look at the registry and finds another handwriting that matches with the false ‘Travis’s’ handwriting. Apparently, the man’s name is Spencer. Soon the real Travis finds her. Amanda realizes if she saw him first, even a tintype, she’d never fell for such duplicity. Travis was taller and broader, tanned from working. His hair was lighter shades of brown with blonde streaks in it and eyes blue-gray. He talks about his farm just the way he did in his letters and he’s definitely the nicest guy in the world. Amanda is afraid to dupe this nice gentleman but decides to keep her misadventure to herself. She presses to marry soon and they’re married the same day. She loves Travis’s farmhouse on spot but soon realizes she knows nothing about being a farmwife. She starts her part with a lot of minor accidents in cooking and in caring for livestock but soon she fell into a routine and learned her ways about the farm. Travis is a man totally ‘dream come true’; so nice and caring, so good to her. She feels guilty, and for the first few days, the great sex she had with Spencer keeps coming back to her. She denies Travis his marital right for sometimes, scared what he’ll do when he finds out she’s not a virgin. In the daytime, they go about their lives. Travis, who was a reserved man, gradually opens up to her. He’s lonely with his parents dead, one older brother gone missing after he went about his own ‘adventures’ a long time ago. But at night, the tension flows as an undercurrent. I was scared that she’d not let him make love to her because from Travis’s POV I knew how much he adored her and wanted to make her his in real. Oh, the poor babe! I was screaming “OH C’MON, get on with it already!”... And, then Amanda thinks the only way she’s going to be able to stop daydreaming (seriously?) about the skunk is to replace the real Travis with him (I can’t believe this is how she saw the whole thing, after knowing Travis and all) so she decides it’s time to make the marriage real.

Travis was a very patient man. He didn’t know what’s wrong with his wife but he knew he wanted her from the moment he saw her. He gave her time to adjust herself in the new life but I think, he was too good. Just too bloody good! I believed he was a passionate man but sadly, he was never allowed to show his passionate nature (in most part) with Amanda IMO. Don’t know why I felt this way. When she let him make love to her, he was gentle. I loved it that despite the off start, they forged a strong relationship. But, later on I was equally disappointed when put to test with Spencer in it, Amanda failed horribly. I wanted this their relationship to bloom, as they both fell madly in love with each-other, forgetting the little adventure she had. They exchanged ILU soon afterwards but I think though Travis was totally in love, Amanda wasn’t, not in that sense.

Amanda liked making love to her husband and she was soon learning her ways about the small community. She made friends with the neighbors, the Landers; mostly with Marilyn, Ted’s wife. Everything was going well. Her relationship with her husband was vastly improving when she finds out she’s pregnant. Of course there’s every chance it’s not Travis’s. Yah, after ploughing through half the US, the skunk had to come inside her to get her into this mess! Travis was very happy with the news, as he’s happy with his life at the moment. Then the Landers were going away to visit Marilyn’s sick mother and in an emotional state, Amanda confides in her. Marilyn advises her not to tell anything to Travis, not anymore. Oh poor babe, he didn’t know til the end, which was beyond sad. The winter approached. One day, they woke up to find the bedroom roof leaking. Since there’s no one else in the farm to help out, Travis goes to mend the roof in the rain and falls down from the ladder. My heart stopped, literally! Then he’s bedridden. Amanda takes care of him but in her advance pregnancy, it’s any girl’s nightmare. Though people are here to help, the intimate tasks such as cleaning and grooming Travis can’t be done by them. But she hangs on. Then there is the matter of the financial situation which was dwindling due to all the costs and stuffs. So, Amanda decides to go the bank and plead the manager for a loan.

Meanwhile the skunk aka Spencer was having spells of misfortune. It seems like his luck has run out in the gambling table and his d*ck has also decided not to listen to him. Lord, I hated to read how he was f*cking or trying to f*ck a woman but can’t get an erection/can’t get off. Oh, it certainly stains his manly ego! And then there’s the little girl who keeps haunting him, doesn’t matter if he’s awake or asleep. He ends up in jail while trying to steal money from an inn where he was working as a cleaner. There he meets this murderer, Rufus, to whom he divulges his ‘guilt’ of duping an unsuspecting innocent girl. I loved what Rufus said because that’s exactly what Spencer is:

“There’s this girl…this woman I can’t get out of my mind.” He spilled the story of his seduction of sweet, innocent Amanda McCormick for Rufus’s examination. When he finished talking, there was another silence.
“You did that?” Rufus’s voice was as deep and gravelly as a quarry.
“Fucked some poor virgin while posing as her fiancé?”
“You got some balls. How’d you know you’d be a close enough match to this Baxter?”
“Brown hair, blue eyes, that’s all she seemed to know about him.”
Spence couldn’t explain his need for the rush of tempting fate. “I took a chance. It was a gamble.”
“Jesus, you’re a mean son of a bitch.”
“I didn’t want to hurt her. I was just having fun.” He sounded like a spoiled child even to himself.
 “And now you want to go see this woman and try to make it right?”
Rufus said. “Just how the hell did you think you were going to fix it? By showing up and wrecking her marriage, if you haven’t done that already?”
It was Spence’s turn to pause.
“Haven’t you done enough to this lady? Where’s your head, boy? Leave her alone.”
“I can’t. I have to see her again.” He didn’t want to share his dreams of the little girl. He’d sound crazy.
Rufus laughed harshly. “So you can try and get another piece of tail?”
“No. It’s not like that.”
“What? You think you’re in love. Son, you don’t know the first thing about it. If you did, you’d be putting this woman’s needs above your own.”
He thought of the little girl telling him to go to Amanda. “Maybe what she needs is me.”
Rufus made a scoffing noise. “A woman needs a man who’ll stand by her, be there through hard times and good. From what you’ve told me these past months, this is the longest you’ve stayed put in one place in your life and that’s only ‘cause they won’t let you out.”
“I just want to do the right thing.”
“Then do like I say. Leave her be. You think she’s going to be happy to see you again?”
Spence pulled his blanket tighter around his shoulders and watched a gray cloud puff from his mouth.
“You still there, boy?”
“Where else?”
“Don’t take it too hard. Everybody does things they’re sorry for. Sometimes there’s just no way to make it right.”
He leaned back against the wall and reviewed the stupid chain of events that had landed him in jail. Maybe Rufus was right and there was no way he could ever apologize for what he’d done to Amanda. He should let the whole thing slide and leave the woman in peace.

But of course, he didn’t do it! The girl in his dream came back. She was absent before because of Spencer’s decision of finding Amanda out. Now that the girl’s back, he’s firm in his resolve to find Amanda and make amends with her, and maybe to lure her away from her marriage. I don’t even have any comments to make about his thoughts. Then they meet, when Amanda was coming out of the bank dejected because the manager denied any help. She is angry to see Spencer but soon he coaxes her into agreeing to take him to her home and help her out. It was also because someone saw them together and they were forced to make a ‘second cousin whom Amanda never met’ out of Spencer. Spencer didn’t know what he’ll be taking over when he stepped into Travis’s farm. He knows nothing about farming himself. Meeting Travis was another different sort of experience for him. He immediately liked the man. Amanda was cold and rude, and I liked it that way. She made him work, day and night without any thanks, which was fine with me. Spencer hated it all, hated to do the ‘menial’ works (read: hard work in and around the farm). I disliked the way he perceived things and his POV about life. But he still wanted Amanda, even with her pregnancy. He asked her about the timing, thinking of course this might be his. He actually believed the girl from his dream was his daughter. Amanda wasn’t sure of course but she vehemently denied that it was his. In between their relationship grew, with intense disliking along with intense attraction. I say this again, if I didn’t know Travis, I would’ve thought it was hot though my sense tells me she should HATE Spencer for what he did to her. But, she’s more attracted to him than Travis, there was no denying this. I hated that she was daydreaming away about Spencer again and again and then felt guilty because of her poor, crippled husband.

Travis’s situation wasn’t improving at all. His legs were broken and he had a concussion in his head, which now throbbed with a dull ache all the time. There was no other way they could take him to a specialist because he was unable to move and journey long distance. It was so sad because I felt he deteriorated because of the lack of proper medical attention. The doctor of this little town was no specialist. But, even when I knew he won’t make it, I loved reading his thoughts and his interactions with Amanda and Spencer. He liked Spencer, not knowing anything about him and Amanda. He was virtually kept in the dark all the time. I agreed that in his situation it wasn’t wise and Amanda, more than once wanted to confide in him because of her guilt about wanting Spencer, even in her pregnant state. When they’re alone, Spencer certainly never hid the fact that he wanted her. Yah, his d*ck works just fine when he’s around Amanda and wet dreams are his companion nowadays. He also feels guilty about the situation he’s created, this veritable mess. It was worse because he really liked and admired Travis. He knew he’ll whine if he was in Travis’s state but Travis is so calm and always thanking them for their help. And, he can’t deny that he feels something for Amanda, other than pure lust.

Then Amanda has her baby, earlier than expected. It’s a girl whom they named Lydia. I loved the scenes with her and Amanda and how she nursed her baby and cooed to her. Travis was happy to welcome the child. Spencer brought the doctor in and helped them through it. The doctor finally takes off Travis’s cast from his legs but it was unsure if he’ll walk soon. Travis was very disheartened to see his legs and with the constant pain in his head. He felt guilty that he couldn’t take care of Amanda and his baby. :( Then he develops this cold. I can’t tell you how I cried reading about this unfairness. I can’t express my sorrow in adequate words, seeing Travis suffer so. And he was the better man. Why do good people suffer like this?

Meantime, Amanda and Spencer kisses. Spencer already saw her naked once when she was pregnant and taking a bath, which only fueled his appreciation for her. When Travis comes down to dine with them later, he senses something was wrong. He never really saw these two together but now it was obvious that they didn’t like each-other. Travis had no clue as to why then suddenly, he realizes that Spencer and Amanda are attracted to each-other. Here, note again that he still knew absolutely NOTHING about their past relationship and that Lydia is most possibly Spencer’s and not his own. He never did. Travis asks Spencer to go away, which he does at night. Amanda is relieved as well as angry to find Spencer gone, again, without any word. She was already hinting that he should leave; even trying to humiliate him with her words (not that she meant it, which is why although I appreciated what she did for Travis, I couldn’t adore her really). But, it was very apparent that Spencer was very helpful around the house. I remember one scene, when Travis takes a bad turn and the baby crying, Amanda felt so helpless that she didn’t know what to do. Should she nurse the baby or go to the doctor? It was such a heart wrenching scene!

Spencer knew by now he can’t live alone and rudderless anymore because regardless of his efforts to ‘not to root into once place’, he’s done it. In the train, while helping a family Spencer decides to go back to the Baxters only to find Travis in decline. When he gains a little consciousness, he asks Spencer to take care of Amanda and Lydia. That night Travis dies. I didn’t like that Amanda decided to sell the farmhouse, no matter how ‘practical’ it was. I didn’t like that she could just leave it and never look back, which made me question her ‘love’ for Travis. I know I might be whining but couldn’t help feeling this way. So did she love both men? I don’t think so. She cared for Travis a lot but not enough to keep his memories alive, not enough that she could not stop fantasize away about a man who treated her so poorly. Oh, I didn’t really fall for her clap-trap about ‘treasuring’ Travis’s memory inside herself while she’s blissfully happy being married to Spencer. Whatever! I lost my interest after Travis died anyway. 4 stars; it was a good book no doubt but I wasn’t happy about the so-called HEA of our H/h. It was so damned unfair that even Lydia wasn’t Travis’s! For shame!!


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