Review: Heartless by Diana Palmer

Posted on October 21, 2009


Series: Long, Tall TexansHeartless by Diana Palmer

Hero: Jason Pendleton

Heroine: Gracie March

As a teenager, Gracie worshipped her stepbrother, Jason, a strong, silent young cowboy who left home early to seek his fortune. Though Gracie hadn’t seen him in years, when her mother passed away, Jason ensured that Gracie would be cared for. Now the wealthy owner of Comanche Wells ranch, Jason has finally come back home, and discovered that the little girl he knew is all grown up.

When a moment of unbridled passion results in a kiss, Jason realizes that he’s falling for Gracie. But Gracie harbors a shameful secret that makes her deeply afraid to love. Stung by her rejection, Jason leaves, ready to put the past—and the one woman he can’t have—behind him once more.

I am a long time fan of Diana Palmer. I can’t explain exactly why I am a fan when her story lines are very formulaic and there are great similarities between each book. If you’re not familiar with Diana Palmer, her plots generally include a mousy heroine — both in character and looks – with either a horrible childhood or some tragic past; and the hero would be a tycoon magnate, overbearing, and cruel to the heroine. Then there would be the age difference between the hero and heroine, which would range between 10-15 years. Even knowing all this, I have glommed DP’s backlist and have most of her books.  And Diana Palmer has a pretty extensive backlist!

In Heartless, you get the quintessential cowboy hero who is rich and good looking but emotionally challenged; while the heroine is sweet, kind, and average in looks but very naive. While the age gap and Jason’s behavior towards Gracie parallels Diana Palmer’s previous story lines, the big difference is that Jason did not reject his feelings for Gracie. In fact, he stayed away from her because he wasn’t sure that she reciprocated his feelings; not to mention that Gracie was still pretty young when he realized his feelings for her.

It was refreshing for once to see a DP hero not be so stubborn and reluctant to accept his feelings for the heroine. However, we had to have a few obstacles to drive a wedge between the couple before any romantic relationship could be established. Gracie had a horrible childhood that Jason is not aware of; indeed, Gracie’s mother lied to Jason’s father when she married him and fabricated a story of her first marriage. As a result, Gracie was afraid to develop a relationship with Jason because she fears he would be disgusted and then hate her should he discover the lies.

During a very aggressive lip locking, Gracie, very innocent in all things intimate, pushed Jason away. Thinking that Gracie rejected him, Jason retaliated by bringing another woman home to show Gracie that he was over her. The other woman, attracted to Jason’s wealth and wanting him all to herself, got rid of Gracie and Jason’s family of loyal servants by blackmailing them about their pasts while Jason was away on business. Thus, Gracie was left to her own devices and kidnapped for ransom. Jason returns home to find his life turned upside down in more ways than one. He suffers.

The fact that Jason is suffering is another part of DP’s formula. Nevertheless, I still enjoy it because I like to see the hero get his comeuppance. haha. And a part of me was hoping that one of the kidnappers, a good bad guy, would fall madly in love with Gracie and give Jason a run for his money. Alas, it wasn’t to be.

Once Jason got over his pride and Gracie trusted Jason with her secrets, the relationship between them developed pretty quick and well. My complaint, and it’s a pretty big one for me, is that it was confusing to keep track of all the characters from previous novels and what their stories were. Consequently, new Diana Palmer fans may be confused and overwhelmed; old fans may roll their eyes at some of the similar scenes and dialogues.

Grading: B-

Posted in: B Reviews, Reviews