by Joan Johnston, historical (2003, 1989 reissue)
Dell, $7.50, ISBN 0-440-23684-3
Third in a trilogy, preceded by Frontier Woman (youngest sister falls for a Texan Ranger) and Comanche Woman (middle sister falls for a Comanche half-breed hero). Texas Woman sees the eldest sister falling for a Mexican plantation owner. My, aren't we all wearing the United Colors of Benetton today?
Texas Woman makes me laugh. It is filled with characters doing very ridiculous things in the name of bad melodrama. This is one book that is so awful that it is so, so good for a hearty chuckle to chase the blues away.
Sloane Stewart was in love with Antonio Guerrero and she even bore him a child, Cisco... until she learned that Tonio was a spy plotting to overthrow the Mexican Republic and he was just using her in his plotting. Oh, oh, oh! Tonio was soon murdered by his own henchman. The book starts with our hero Cruz Guerrero - Tonio's brother - taking Sloane to the jail where they both listen to the killer Alejandro hurl insults at Sloane. Why are they doing this? Isn't is easier for Cruz to just buy some red paint and draw a target on Sloane's forehead?
Then we have a scene where the pregnant Sloane decides that she cannot bear to care for Tonio's child, so she decides to give that kid away once she pops it out. So what she does is to go to Cruz and tell him of her plan. Upon which, he insists that the kid be born with the Guerrero name and tells Sloane that she must marry him if she wants to give that kid away. Yes, I don't get it either. He then insists that Sloane, once she married him, must stay with him. Oi, Cruz, she wants to get rid of the kid, so asking her to stay with you and take care of the kid sort of negates the whole purpose of the deal in the first place. But Sloane insists that the marriage be in name only, and then, having handed lil' Cisco to the Guerreros, runs home to run her father's plantations and to mope and whine because She Gave Lil' Cisco Away and how Tonio has Betrayed her so she Will Never Love Again.
Today, Cruz comes charging to Sloane's father because he wants Sloane to be his wife in every way. What does he do? Tell Sloane, "Sloane, I like you very much, I have a big house, lots of money, I love you, will you be my wife?" Of course not. Try "You must come with me now!", the exclamation mark included for good measure. Of course she cannot love him - never, ever, never ever! And of course, he can't tell her how much she means to him, instead he must order her around like some macho stereotype. Put in the shrill mother-in-law, lots of "Puta! You whore! Me no whore, you're the whore!" shriek-fest, lots of misunderstandings that other people (people with half a brain, that is) can resolve amicably with a few minutes' talk with each other, over-the-top villainy, even more over-the-top Madonna/Whore themes, and by page 299, I am laughing so hard that every inch of my body aches in protest.
Texas Woman is a bad book, of course. The characters run amok like stupid gone ugly and fed on locoweed, but everything about this book is so bad that it can't help but to be so good, if I am making sense here. For some of the best laughs ever, this book gets a thumbs up from me. Who've thought people screaming "Puta!" at each other could be this hilarious? Of course, Joan Johnston probably expects a more sober reception to her book, but then again, Joe Eszterhas probably feels the same way about Showgirls too. Here's me lifting a mug for a toast - to bad campy reads and the way they make me laugh so hard to chase the blues away!
This book at Amazon.com
This book at Amazon UK
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