by Jodi Thomas, historical (2001)
Jove, $6.99, ISBN 0-515-13176-8
The Texan's Dream, the latest 19th century Texas romance by Jodi Thomas, is boring. Sorry, I have to use such a trite word like "boring", but seriously, this novel is boring. The writing seems to be going nowhere, the romance is lacklustre and seems more like a filler between Western derring-do stuff, and the characters just don't grab my interest.
It starts out decently, gripping even. Young Karina Paige O'Riley had to flee when the Irish miners feud in Pittsburgh went out of control and put her life in danger. Her father told her that she could write to him in three months' time to see if he was still alive.
Cut to two months down the road. Kara, as she calls herself now, is hunted by bounty hunters under the hire of her father's enemies, the McWimberly clan. With little money left with her, she decides to take on the job as a bookkeeper with Jonathan Catlin, even if she can't do Maths well.
Little does she know that she has just left one feud to immerse herself in another. Jonathan's sister is married to a McLain and the McLain and their neighbor ranchers the Wells are at war with each other. Quil McLain is in jail and Jonathan needs Kara to pose as Quin's late wife. See, Quil's wife died in childbirth (why she and Quil were in jail is a long, long story best left to the author to tell in this story) and someone needs to take Quil's baby out of the jail.
Meanwhile, if that's not complicated enough, apparently every other goony in town want Kara or Jonathan or both dead. Then Devin, Kara's intended, showed up. Is he a good guy or not? (Hint: this is a "typical" romance.)
This story is a busy one, that's for sure.
At the same time, the characters are colorless. Kara is one of those colorless supersaints who doesn't care if Jonathan asks her to risk her life without even telling her why - she cares about everybody else but herself! She loves babies! She loves helping old women in trouble! She walks around starry-eyed like a Bambi's mother pre-barbecue deer meat! No deep thoughts, no personality, just this girly enthusiasm and irrepressible perkiness to help and do anything to Save the Babies and Help This Sad, Sexy Man.
Save me from psychos like this Kara bimbo, please.
Jonathan's behavior doesn't make sense. First he tries to make Kara resign, then he is telling her that he knows she will be important to him all along. Huh? Throughout the story, he veers from macho hero who puts the heroine in danger (then again, she willingly endangers herself in the name of Stars and Moons and Nitwit Heroine Superheroics) to a hero who tells himself that he loves her even as he asks her to run another superheroine stint.
Finally, the dialogues. Oh my god, the Carebears drunk and junked up don't sound this bad, as characters run into saccharine long-winded expositions that are stilted and juvenile in nature. I haven't even successfully pinpoint Kara's age yet. I guess it's somewhere between 10 and 12.
Underbaked romance, superfluous and overdone external conflicts, and overblown dialogues make me wonder if The Texan's Dream is written on a really bad hair day. While not exactly a nightmare, this story isn't up to par to this author's better works.
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