RITA Reader Challenge Review

RITA Reader Challenge Review: Open Country by Kaki Warner


Title: Open Country
Author: Kaki Warner
Publication Info: Berkley 2010
ISBN: 9780425234303
Genre: Historical: American

RITA®, and the RITA statuette are service marks of Romance Writers of America, Inc. ReadinginAK read this for the RITA® Reader Challenge reviews. There was an earlier review for this book, but ReadinginAK’s review echoed it in such a way that I wanted to include it as well.

Book CoverPlot Summary: Molly McFarlane is as desperate as a woman can get. Forced to flee with her late sister’s children, she must provide for her wards while outrunning the relentless tracker the children’s vicious stepfather has set on their trail. Out of money and with no other options, she marries a man badly injured in a train derailment, assuming when he dies, the railroad settlement will provide the money they need to keep moving West.

But there is one small problem. The man doesn’t die.

Hank Wilkins doesn’t recall the accident he barely survived-and he certainly doesn’t remember marrying Molly. But as he slowly recovers at the Wilkins ranch in New Mexico Territory, the idea of a real marriage takes hold…until his memory returns, and that fragile trust is shattered, and the tracker follows Molly to the ranch. Then things really start to unravel.

Here is ReadinginAK’s review:

When a woman (Molly) runs off with her sister’s endangered kids and then marries a guy in a coma to procure the widow’s benefits from the railroad, you think you know where the story is going. Happily, there are enough twists and turns in the plotline to keep you interested. The line I was certain was the main one of the book resolved halfway through (I thought) and then the action kept going.

The two kids, Charlie and Penny, are classic plot moppets. They appear either to advance the plotline or help you understand the inner workings of another character. Hank can’t be a jerk! He’s nice to kids! Molly can’t be as distracted as she seems! She’s taking care of the kids! Where’s the mystery? Those rotten kids are in it! There were several times when I thought, amid the action, who is looking out for the kids right now? They were in storage until they were useful again.

There were two similes that stuck out for me. “[S]he had put away her shyness and forced herself to become as chatty as a Calvinist before a class full of converts…” That’s a fairly specific comparison. Then (my favorite), “She turned, giving him an inspiring view of her butt, which shimmied like two armadillos doing a slow dance under a silk scarf…” Um, armadillos? Really? Nothing says sexy like an armored animal that’s susceptible to leprosy.

Maybe I need to get out more.

Open Country is available from Amazon | Kindle | Powell‘s | Book Depository | BN & nook |

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    Danielle says:

    which shimmied like two armadillos doing a slow dance under a silk scarf
    Seriously, that quote never gets old.

  2. 2
    Chelsea S. says:

    That armadillo line is exactly why I never attempt similes in any of my writing. I assume it made sense in the author’s head, but on paper? Seriously, wtf?

  3. 3
    JoyK says:

    Have you actually looked at an armadillo lately? 
    They are seriously ugly animals.  Not flattering to the woman being described.  Because of their shell and short legs you just see the animal glide along mostly.  So a slow dance between two of them wouldn’t actually shimmy.  But, who am I to put truth between a writer and a simile.

  4. 4
    Emily says:

    Now we know why they call ‘em Inspirationals.
    “She turned, giving him an
    view of her butt,
    which shimmied like two armadillos doing a slow dance under a silk scarf…”
    Her butt shimmied? Or she shimmied her butt.
    I am sure whichever; he was Inspired.

  5. 5
    Azh says:

    I read that one two days ago and thought the same. The kids are nothing but plot points (annoying plot points at that). 

    Molly doesn’t search for the documents, they don’t ask the kids, playing ostrich until they don’t have a choice” anymore (and the boy just give it to them).

    The rest of the novel was enjoyable, and I even had some difficulties to put it when it was time for sleep.

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