by Judy Gill

June 1990
ISBN: 0-553-44037-3
Reviewer Graphic Button Bantam Books #406
Mass Market Paperback

Desperado is a story filled with emotions. Love, guilt, hate, loneliness. They’re all there.

Having lost her husband and son in a collision with a drunken driver, Mary DeLaney is adamantly against the consumption of alcohol. Working in a detox center night after night has only strengthened her feelings.

For Mary, the last few years have been all about school and working, leaving very little time for socializing and even less for dating. Understandably, when ex-hockey star, Bruce “Stud” Hagendorn enters into her life and refuses to walk back out, she’s unsure of how to proceed.

What Mary is dealing with, and what complicates everything, is guilt. She’s never allowed herself to deal with her loss and move on. Then there are the secrets she knows Bruce is keeping from her. How can she love a man who’s hiding things from her?

Loneliness is another key element in this story. Both Mary and Bruce are lonely people who need to find a way to come together. Bruce is all for them coming together (no pun intended). Having recently moved from Winnipeg and being used to friends, fans and family surrounding him, he’s having a bit of a problem adjusting to Vancouver. For him, meeting quiet, sober (again no pun intended!) Mary is a boon.

As their relationship develops and Mary finally begins to accept her feelings for Bruce, another kink is thrown into the works. Bruce’s big secret is revealed. He’s partner in a neighborhood pub. For Mary, who’d lost her husband and child to alcohol misuse and had also lost her parents to a different version of the same, Bruce might as well be the devil himself.

What follows is a rather drawn out segment in which I wanted to shake both characters. Bruce for not seeing the simple solution in front of him, and Mary for being unreasonable.

In this story, Mary is a bit too judgmental for my tastes. And although she had reasons for her fears, she was more of a character you feel sorry for from a distance as opposed to one who comes to life for the reader and you can commiserate with.

Bruce, on the other hand, is a character that is written with much heart and comes to the reader in full color. He’s very easy to visualize and, for me, it was he who made this book and the relationship work.

I’m a bit ambiguous about Desperado. Although the conflict between the characters came to a rather surprising and satisfying conclusion, the winding road it took them to get there detracted from my enjoyment of the book. Fans of Ms Gills work would probably enjoy this book. Anyone looking for a light read to pass the time would probably enjoy it as well. But if you’re looking for a keeper, something you can completely get into, this book wouldn’t be one I’d recommend.

Reviewed in August 2002 by JaToya.

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