Thoughts After Reading:
I started reading Kasey Michaels' The Belligerent Miss Boynton with the hope that it would be significantly better than the last traditional of Michaels that I read. Alas, I was destined for great disappointment. The book started out well enough. If fact, the entire first half of the novel was full of adventure and humor. But then things started to drag, and by the end I heartily wished I had never started the story.
The protagonists aren't exactly amiable at first glance, but somewhat compensate by being interesting. The heroine has a spirited personality, and cares for little beyond her close servants (a groom and her childhood nanny) and her beloved horse. When her cruel stepfather threatens to get rid of her horse if she doesn't marry a man of his choosing, she plans to run away with her horse to one of her relatives. The hero is a typical bored rogue. He is intrigued from the first by the heroine's propensity to snap witty slights at him. In fact, he seems to find her fiery temper to be her most attractive attribute. After the characters meet, the hero tends to tease the heroine almost to the extent of making fun of her. When the hero finds about out about the heroine's plans to run away, he decides to go with her on her escape and eventually bring her to his estate. In fact, he quickly decides to marry her and make everyone happy. He will marry, which will make his aunt happy. He will provide safety for the heroine, the heroine's horse, and the heroine's groom, which will make the heroine happy. He will also be able to bed the heroine until he gets tired of her, which will make himself happy.
While the first parts of the story - the meeting and subsequent journey - were by far the best part of the book, I had some serious concerns. I could not approve of the way the hero messed with the heroine's head. He makes all of his wedding plans secretly, while telling the heroine he is going to blackmail her into being his mistress. Just for the fun of it. And it really tortures her, to the point that there is a scene where she considers using a small knife to stab either the hero or herself. She also seems to become essentially a doormat whenever the hero's decisions were involves, all in the name of "love." This holds true when she is informed of her wedding a mere hour before it occurs, as well as later at the resolution of the romance conflict.
The second half of the novel was just horrible. The romance conflict occurs almost right away, so it - as well as the external conflict - drags on unbearably. It was such as a frustrating conflict: some childhood issues that causes the hero to abandon his marriage (and so-called "love of his life") almost right away. He leaves her for months, and almost goes through with his plan to cheat on her. He probably would have done it, if the whore hadn't been so disagreeable. The external conflict wasn't much better; instead, it was page after page of a murder plot.
So what were my feelings regarding Kasey Michaels' The Belligerent Miss Boynton? In a nutshell: I hated it. I thought the hero was an undeserving ass, alternated between pity and annoyance towards the heroine, and the only reason I finished the book was because I had invested so much time into it already. As a result, I'm done trying Kasey Michaels' traditionals. There might be some gems out there, but if so - I certainly haven't found them.