When A Texan Gambles
by Jodi Thomas, historical (2003)
Jove, $6.99, ISBN 0-515-13629-8
I have been reading Jodi Thomas' books since she was published with Jove when Jove had that Diamond imprint - gosh, that was quite a long time ago, wasn't it? I generally enjoy this author's books, so I am quite disappointed to say that When A Texan Gambles is easily one of her weakest books ever. The heroine is whiny and useless, truly an irritating combination of traits, and the story is very disjointed.
Related to The Texan's Wager, this series concern three women that try to make it on their own in a trip to Texas, kill a man (accidentally, of course) that try to rape and assault them, and then, being good citizens that they are, turn themselves in to the law in the next town (despite no one witnessing their actions) where the lawman tosses them off to any men that want them in a bride raffle thingie. This book revolves around the second women of the Terribly Tinheaded Trio, Sarah Andrews, and her life with her new husband Sam Gatlin.
Sarah is a character straight out of a bad soap opera. You name it - abuse, poverty, mean people, bad marriage, miscarriage (hey, I am rhyming!), attempted rape - she's got it. This doesn't stop her from acting like a diva around her new husband while whining that he sucks because he can't read her mind. She doesn't have any clothes to wear so her not-so-rich husband buys her a practical dress, but she refuses to wear it because it's not nice and it brings back memories of Abuse and Exploitation. Then she whines that she has nothing to wear. She insists that her husband treat her well even as she dangles sex before the besotted and horny man in a manipulative way to get him to stay his distance, and at the same time she whines that nobody loves her and her life sucks, ugh ugh ugh. Hubby gets shot and may be dead, so Sarah goes on a shopping spree. Okay, that behavior is funny in a morbid way when we are talking about Anna Nicole Smith, but not when Miss I'm Nasty But I Insist I Am Virtuous Roly-Poly Hypocrite here is doing it. Oh, and Sam buys her a new dress, a pretty one, upon which she then realizes that she loves Sam after all. Nice.
And along the way, subplots come and ago, including the Not Dead Villain, some lost children, outlaws, all introduced and resolved in a half-hearted way that suggests that the author probably doesn't care too much about coherence in this story. The second half of the book is similar to that in The Texan's Wager, where the action scenes take over the story, but without likeable and intelligent characters, When A Texan Gambles fares really poorly compared to The Texan's Wager. In the latter, I cheer the shy and virginal unlikely hero on, in the former I screech at Sam to keep riding until he reaches Mexico.
The author has written many books, some very good, some okay, but most are very pleasant entertainment. Readers new to this author's homespun Western and Americana romances can do better trying their luck with any of Jodi Thomas' other books. Just don't bet too much on When A Texan Gambles.
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