Wednesday, May 19, 2010

TBR Challenge Review: Runabout

Pamela Morsi

Historical Romance/1916 America

Jove/February 1994


From the back cover ~

Tulsa May Bruder has given up on love. Her first and only suitor has broken her heart, and as the town wallflower, Tulsa figures she just wasn't cut out for romance. But when her friend Luther Briggs helps her to stand tall in front of the town gossips, Tulsa suddenly sees a face she's known forever in a whole new light - and finds that falling in love can happen when you least expect it...

When checking the suggested themes for this month's challenge I found one of my favorite romance tropes - the friends to lovers. And imagine my surprise when I found that I had a Pamela Morsi that fit the bill. Yeah! As much as I love Morsi, there are still a few of her older books that I haven't read. There's even a few that I still need to hunt down. :)

What has come to be a Morsi trademark is her unconventional heroines and heroes. Another thing that sets her apart is her time periods. She tends to stay away from the traditional Victorian or Regency periods, instead going for the turn of the century or in the case of Runabout, the period prior to the United States entering World War I. I like that we get a time period that's often overlooked.

The long time friends of the story are Tulsa May Bruder and Luther Briggs. Tulsa is the preacher's daughter of the small Oklahoma town and an only child. Luther is a half-breed Indian and an orphan. He and his younger brother Arthel, came to town ten years ago after their parents died. Their only family was their father's mother, Maimie Briggs but she had no intention in taking in half-breeds. After the Briggs boys were rejected by their grandmother they were taken in by the Reverend and his family. This last about a year until Luther was able to get a job and support himself and his younger brother.

Luther has grown into a very responsible young man. He pretty much had to since he had been responsible for his younger brother Arthel since he was sixteen and Arthel was eight. Luther isn't what I would call a knight in shinning armor to Tulsa's damsel in distress. Luther's armor is a bit tarnished when it comes to his love life. He's enjoyed sowing some wild oats and has no intention of settling down any time soon. But when his best friend Tulsa is practically left at the alter and left for the town gossips, Luther comes up with a plan to stop the towns folk from pitying Tulsa. And what a plan it is!

Tulsa is a sweetheart. Seriously, she's known for her sunny disposition. She sees the good in everyone and looks for the positive in all things. Did that get annoying? Surprisingly, no. I thought it might but Tulsa is also aware of her overly sunny outlook and has no problem using some self deprecating humor to show her awareness. She's also mirror shy. She doesn't like her carrot top hair or what she considers her plain features. Her dislike of her hair is demonstrated through her love of hats. Lots and lots of hats! I really liked that we got to see this side of her. Tulsa isn't one to be deceptive but in this case she hides many of her hats under the bed so her mother doesn't see them. There is a very tender and sensual scene where Luther uses a mirror to show Tulsa how very beautiful she is. Love that scene!

The town and its people certainly play a role in Luther and Tulsa's relationship. Tulsa, being the Reverend's daughter, is always under scrutiny from the locals. I liked the way Luther had no problem standing up to the questions and innuendos that come from friends, neighbors and the nosy biddy bodies. His protectiveness of Tulsa was sweet in a brotherly fashion but that, along with the boundaries of their relationship, changes as the story progresses.

He didn't let her finish. With a tenderness that surprised even himself, Luther brought his mouth to hers. It was the gentlest of kisses. A mere touching of one pair of lips to another. A kiss that might have been considered brotherly. But no brother's heart ever pounded like his. page 152

The way Morsi had Luther and Tulsa getting to know each other in the way a couple gets to know was well done over a period of time. Things like going to church together, going out driving in the Runabout as a couple instead of just friends. They didn't realize it at the time but they were getting to know each other on another level, seeing each other through different eyes. I liked the way the story showed the protective side of both Luther and Tulsa.

The romance is subtle at times, with neither Luther or Tulsa realizing what they are doing. That they are acting like a couple falling in love instead of merely pretending it. There are also times when it's so darn obvious they physically want each other that it scares them senseless. Seeing Luther, an experienced man, embarrassed and perplexed by his need for Tulsa was cute and sweet. Poor Tulsa was just confused, having no real experience with men.

The setting of the small town with all it's flavors of the time period was evident in the language and attitude of the towns folk. There were some scenes of the darker side of small town life and the small minded. I thought Morsi handled the prejudices of race and immorality well. She showed that people can change for the good if given a chance. She also showed that tolerance for others can be subjective and how it's dealt with is just as important.

If you're looking for a historical romance that's different than your typical Regency or Victorian, then give Pamela Morsi a try.

Rating: A


  1. This was a fairly recent addition to my TBR, and I was doubly happy to have it since it's connected to Wild Oats (which I read and loved earlier this year for Keishon's challenge). Your review has me itching to pull it off my book shelves!

  2. Wendy ~ hey, I've got Wild Oats & I don't think I've read it before. I'll make it my next Morsi read.

    You should read Runabout. It's classic Morsi and I think you'll like it!

  3. You are really selling me on giving Pamela Morsi a try. You AND Hilcia! And apparently, Wendy, too!

    All of her books sound very engaging and sweet and I do find the different time period refreshing. Thanks for the review, Leslie! :)

  4. Christine ~ bwahaha

    Our plan is working. :)

  5. LOL, I need to go to the UBS and buy all the old Pamela Morsi that I can find!

    thanks for the review, Leslie :D Glad you enjoyed it so much :D

    I like sunny heroines :)

  6. Another reason for me to clear out my TBR, because I KNOW I have this book, as well as WILD OATS. It's just finding them that's the problem.

    Although I've bought her books over the years, I'm a newcomer to Morsi and I'm loving it.

  7. Ah Leslie, another Morsi on my list of books to buy. I'm so happy to see a high grade from you and such an excellent review!

  8. Great review! I scooped up a bunch of Ms. Morsi's backlist earlier this year after reading Courting Miss Hattie. Thankfully, this book is in my tbr pile. :P

  9. Nath ~ If you like sunny heroines then I’m sure you’ll like Tulsa. :) Definitely get any Morsi’s you find.

    Amy ~ I hope you’re able to find them. You’ve got some wonderful reading ahead of you. :)

    Hils ~ Morsi has such a unique voice. I think you’ll enjoy this one too.

    Ames ~ Yeah! Wasn’t Courting Miss Hattie wonderful? Hope you enjoy Runabout!