by Georgina Gentry, historical (2003)
Zebra, $5.99, ISBN 0-8217-7402-6
This book has it all: an annoying and inept suffragist heroine, an obstinate mule hero whose "No woman, no cry" song gets old really fast, and external conflicts straight out of the Olde Western Cliché Handbook. Despite it all, Georgina Gentry's To Tame A Texan is such a fun rollercoaster ride that I cannot help but to succumb to its charms.
Schoolteacher Lynnie McBride fancies herself a suffragist. She believes that there is nothing a man can do that a woman can't. By this alone, one should be able to tell that there is a blooming idiot on the road and her name is Lynnie McBride, so people, jump aside when you hear her coming down the road. The hero is Ace Durago - is that really a name? - a totally irresponsible doofus whom momma has to bail out of jail. I'm not kidding. Ace's mother decides to teach her son some responsibility by making him escort Lynnie to the Governor's Ball. She hopes that Lynnie will also tame her son a little. She'll probably reconsider when Lynnie waves a "Votes for Texas Women!" banner at the Ball and causes a riot to break out.
Lynnie is tossed into jail and predictably loses her teaching position afterwards. Ace's father blames Ace for the mess at the Ball and forces Ace to lead a cattle drive. Lynne, hearing this, dresses up as a boy so that she can tag along to Dodge City to attend a conference for suffragists. Needless to say, wacky mayhem ensues on the trail, mostly of the heroine spluttering and hissing and the hero leering and winking variety.
What makes this book works mostly is that Lynnie and Ace have some really enjoyable chemistry going between them. Ace is a rogue through and through, and there's a charm to his easy-going demeanor. Lynnie is annoying in her refusal to own up to the consequences of her many foolish antics in this book - why is it that these suffragists always prove their critics right by being so stupid? - but still, she's also a pretty spunky lady who refuses to say die. Both Ace and Lynnie are simultaneously endearing and exasperating.
This book won't be the earth-shatteringly original Western romance that revolutionizes the subgenre and it won't even be the best of those that come close. To Tame A Texan however offers a well-written tale filled with familiar elements made very readable in a romance that sparkles with chemistry. All in all, it's an enjoyable and pleasant read.
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