I hope Linton Robinson doesn’t shoot me for saying this, but there ought to be another book genre: Masculine Romance. I mean, if you look at generic Romances, what do you see? The fantasies of women, including a token amount of romance, a good dollop of action, and a great deal of sex. There are a whole lot of men’s books out there that do the same thing in a masculine sense, with a great deal more action, about the same amount of sex, and a surprising amount of romance. “For Your Damned Love” is one of these, with a good shot of Robinson’s usual wry humour and pessimistic philosophy thrown in.
“For Your Damned Love” is the complicated story of Dancy, a “silver spoon” deb from the States who gets everything too easily and keeps looking for more. Her husband, come to Mexico to make a high-level drug deal, contracts Armando, the local drug lord, to kidnap her and kill her. Her father hires Doc Hardesty, a semi-retired mercenary, to find his daughter and bring her back. Which he does, but not until she has taken over Armando’s gang and started a crime wave on her own. And had wild, sometimes kinky sex with most of the other characters.
One main talent that Robinson demonstrates in this novel is his ability to create action images. The most impressive picture is Dancy, surprised in her bed by kidnappers, trashing them and the room with her tennis racket. Completely nude. Tends to stick in the male mind, at least. Her bank robbery techniques are also memorable, especially the part where she decides that her hostage, a young bank teller, needs a demonstration of proper makeup technique, which she proceeds to give. In a bouncing truck with toiletries stolen while she was cleaning out the purses of the rich patrons of the bank.
The other strength of the novel is its portrayal of the rougher side of Mexico, intermingling the fantastical opulence of a drug dealer’s den or jet-set hotel with the filthy alleys of the slums. The book is filled with the physical and social settings that Robinson is so good at, but without quite the snap and poetic density of some of his other works.
My main complaint about this book is that it’s too long. There is just too much gratuitous “fun and games” action that sidetracks into fulfilling the fantasy requirements of some readers but doesn’t add to the plotline. The greatest example of this is when Doc goes to Puerto Vallarta on a fact-finding mission and makes one key contact. Which takes four chapters of the book. The remainder of those chapters involves Doc taking a young journalist on a tour of the pleasure prospects of the city, in company with two young and shapely country lasses in town for a week they can remember when they go back to their hard, dreary lives.
All of these characters are fully rounded out (in several senses), and sympathetic: perfect demonstrations that stereotypes can be individuals in their own small way. However much we appreciate them and enjoy their story, they don’t keep the main plot rolling. This sort of detour happens throughout the book, and while it may be of interest to young romantics, it has at least the more mature readers tapping their fingers.
This book, while fulfilling the other requirements of its audience, has an underlying current of Robinson’s cynical philosophy. His heroes tend to be older, wiser, and at the stage in their lives where they begin to question the emptiness of their lifestyle. In other words, growing up. This is the story of people getting what they want and then realizing that it isn’t what they need. It is the old tale of people learning too late, growing up too slow and doing a whole lot of damage to themselves and others along the way. Thus in spite of the comic relief and the high-flying fantasy, there is a gritty reality underlying the whole scene, which gives the book unusual depth for this genre.
Recommended for fans of romance the hard way. 4 stars out of 5.