Just this Once(A Cowboy in the Haute Ton?!): Jill Gregory

Needing a break from the usual as I furiously work on finishing my upcoming novella A Civil Engagement (scheduled to be e-released in May) I picked up Just This Once (Dell, 1997) from a heretofore unread author Jill Gregory.

Set after the Civil War, this book travels from Abilene Texas to the parlor rooms of the Ton.  Along the way conflict between our hero and heroine, a raft of baddies, and some snobby society debs create a nice steady stream of action.  There is enough reworking of the tried and true formula to keep you interested and turning the pages.  There are also some really funny snatches of dialogue.

There is also a healthy supply of predictability…it won’t be hard to figure out the ending by the second chapter.  And the ending is really a little too neat and quick for my taste.  A perusal of her website recommends that Gregory is more often found in the modern and western romance sections…and the excessive use of words like “pronto” and “hombre” as well as other colloquialisms from the Wild West should be a tip off that Ms. Gregory is treading on relatively new territory.  Our hallowed halls of Regency Romance (or Georgian or Victorian) can be a little detail oriented (is that putting it too mildly?) and unforgiving of creative license.  When I say that, I know you will realize I am really mostly speaking about myself and take it with the usual spoonful of delicious sugar.  I also know that like me, you will maintain the grace and poise of the parlor and forgive the foibles of a girl’s coming out.

Luckily, I was in the mood for pure escapism so, even though the “rustle up” language made me cringe, I generally enjoyed this unlikely story of a cowboy in gentleman’s clothing.  I think if you are up for something different, you might enjoy it too.

The adult subject matter is really not meant for a younger audience.  The love scenes are relatively tame, but there is some violence and abuse which won’t be appropriate for younger romance readers.

If you can mosey on over and find this on the shelf, then giddy up and give it a go.

As she picked the stranger’s pocket at a public hanging, Josie Cooper was swept into the steely arms of her intended victim, an angry gunslinger with a face so handsome it made her ache. Josie escaped. But Ethan Savage caught her again and gave her a choice: marriage or jail. It was strictly business: six months in England, then she was free–and rich. She couldn’t say no. And she couldn’t tell him the truth: she was already married–to a brutal outlaw who would track her to the ends of the earth…
Ethan thought he’d left his aristocratic past behind–until his family hunted him down, forcing him to return to England and claim an inheritance and a title he didn’t want. All he needed was a bride, and Josie Cooper had to say yes. Now he had to turn the sometime dance-hall girl into a countess. Love had nothing to do with it–until he fell head over heels for the newly minted countess who took London by storm…

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