Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Confidential Life of Eugenia Cooper by Kathleen Y' Barbo

The Confidential Life of Eugenia Cooper

The Confidential Life of Eugenia Cooper
by Kathleen Y' Barbo

Trade Paperback: 344 pages
Publisher: WaterBrook Press
First Released: 2009

Author Website
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Source: Review copy from publisher

Back Cover Description:
This Wild West adventure just might be the life she was meant to live.

The future is clearly mapped out for New York socialite Eugenia “Gennie” Cooper, but she secretly longs to slip into the boots of her favorite dime-novel heroine and experience just one adventure before settling down. When the opportunity arises, Gennie jumps at the chance to experience the Wild West, but her plans go awry when she is drawn into the lives of silver baron Daniel Beck and his daughter and finds herself caring for them more than is prudent–especially as she’s supposed to go back to New York and marry another man.

As Gennie adapts to the rough-and-tumble world of 1880s Colorado, she must decide whether her future lies with the enigmatic Daniel Beck or back home with the life planned for her since birth. The question is whether Daniel’s past–and disgruntled miners bent on revenge–will take that choice away from her.

The Confidential Life of Eugenia Cooper is a humorous, fast-paced Christian romance set in 1880 in America. The romance was a predictable "lust at first sight" storyline, but the Wild West adventure parts added fun and unpredictability.

I generally found the characters engaging, though not very deep. Gennie comes close to being more than just the "rich girl" cliche, at least at the beginning, so I was disappointed when she lost this as the story went on.

The historical details were likewise rather superficial and scarce. I found several historical details that were wrong or questionable, one of them critical to the main crisis scene. Several of the scenes (one of those critical) felt contrived by the author to force certain events, but I think that was partly because the scenes weren't completely set up ahead of time. Since I was expecting a lighter, "dime novel adventure" style of writing, this didn't really bother me.

The characters were Christians living out their faith, which included praying and reading the Bible (which, to paraphrase Gennie, is 'the greatest adventure book' and 'contains more scandalous stories than dime novels'). No theological discussions occurred. Depending on tolerance levels, some non-Christians might enjoy reading this book.

There was no sex or bad language. Overall, this novel was a clean, fun romp.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt: Chapter One
The warning came too late.

Mae Winslow’s finely tuned senses jumped as the fire bell rang, setting the populace into a motion akin to the stirring of a nest of hornets, and sending Mae into a fit of the vapors.

Before the sounding of the alarm, the only stings fair Mae felt in the bleak light of dawn were from her heart and her conscience. She had disappointed dear Henry once again, allowing the calamity that dogged her steps to set her on yet another path leading away from the home and hearth he so freely offered. Surely the longsuffering Henry understood that beneath her buckskin-clad exterior beat a heart that held nothing but love for him despite the vagabond life she must lead.

At the moment, however, her mind must turn from the excess of emotional thoughts that Henry Darling brought and toward the situation at hand. With the practiced eye of one far too well-trained in the ways of desperate outlaws and lowly curs, she lifted the sash of the boardinghouse window and lowered her gaze to the street below. With the fresh wind came the bitter scent of smoke. Alas, the odor did not emit from below or from beyond the bounds of the quaint structure, but rather swirled from behind, as if seeping beneath the slightly crooked bedroom door.

Mae made to turn when a shot rang out. A bullet chipped away several layers of paint on the sill and sent her scrambling to the floor. There, with her breath coming a bit freer, she crawled toward the bed, where her pistols hung on the bedpost.

“So,” the fair jewel breathed as she wrapped her small fingers around the cold metal that had saved her life more times than she could count, “they’ve found me.”

New York City, July 5, 1880
Something tickled her nose. Eugenia Flora Cooper batted at the offending object, then opened her eyes to see that she’d tossed a fringed pillow onto her bedroom floor. A thud told her the book she’d been reading last night had gone flying as well.

The book, a brand-new episode of Mae Winslow, Woman of the West. Gennie sighed and pulled the silk and velvet coverlet over her head as she snuggled down into the soft feather mattress. Despite the fact she was required to attend a post–Independence Day breakfast with the Vanowens this morning, then catch a train to Boston at noon, she’d devoured every word of the dime novel last evening, staying awake late into the night.

Read the rest of chapter one.

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