Shades of Twilight by Linda Howard

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After the death of her parents in an accident, Ronna was brought up by her grandmother Lucinda. Ever since she could remember, she’s been an ugly, gangly thin child prone to clumsiness and her social ineptness. Overshadowed by her beautiful and bitchy cousin Jessie, she’s been made to feel unloved, inept and ugly all her life (her parents did love her dearly before they died though). Her distant cousin Webb Tallant was the one bright spot in her life who protected her from the spite and malice, especially brought on by Jessie. Her only talent as a child was horses— they loved her and her ideas about training them helped produce the most well-behaved ones they kept.

Webb was an ambitious man however, and when promised during his teenage years he could inherit Davencourt when he married Jessie, he and Jessie had taken it for granted that he would marry the ‘Crown Princess of Davencourt’. And he did eventually, although Roanna had loved him so much. Webb and Jessie did have their marital problems, and Jessie threw a spiteful snit when she caught Roanna kissing Webb one day (the latter did it impulsively—- she was still very young and gave in to her impulse). Jessie accused Roanna of doing it deliberately, which later led to Webb suspecting Roanna guilty of betraying him.

After the quarrel between Jessie and Webb, Jessie was found murdered that night, and Webb was the main suspect. He was hurt that Lucinda hasn’t defended him, and the whole town was suspecting him, plus he also thought Roanna was guilty by deliberately inciting the quarrel between Jessie and him, and Ronna hated Jessie enough that it was a possible option. Although the law deemed him innocent due to lack of evidence, he left Davenport, Alabama to Arizona where he built his own successful business using his own two hands.

10 years later, Lucinda was dying and she sent Ronna to get Webb back to Davencourt. Roanna was no longer the mischievous girl always in trouble, rather after the rejection of everyone around her, she had retreated into a quiet woman with a blank face, no longer wanted to be hurt by people around her. Despite that, she was still standing up for Webb, as she had done 10 years ago at Jessie’s funeral (although he rebuffed her efforts). Webb realised he’s loved Roanna all his life and tried his best to win her over and draw her out of her shell.

I know guys in Linda Howard’s books are supposed to be tough. Although I like Webb—he’s dangerous, good-looking and always been kind and protective of Roanna, after finding her guilty of betrayal, he’s been such a jackass to her. And suddenly pooh— he found himself loving her!

I loved Roanna— she’s so strong and she did so much to stand up for Webb even though she’s under suspicion before for Jessie’s death, and everything she did was for Lucinda and Webb.

‘I want you, period,’ He cupped her face in his hand, stroking his thumb over the soft curve of her mouth. His eyes were very serious.’I love you, Roanna Frances. Will you marry me?’

Her lips trembled under his touch. When she’d been seventeen, she had loved him so desperately that she would have jumped at any chance to marry him, under any conditions. She was twenty-seven now, and she still loved him desperately- loved him enough that she didn’t want to trap him into another marriage in which he would be miserable.

Rating: 4/5

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