They were a crack team of Confederate raiders, striking behind enemy lines under cover of darkness, operating with one mind, one heart. Until one of their number betrayed them all. In the aftermath of tragedy, they swore they would live to hunt down the traitor. But to each, life would bring first a woman and then a revelation: Far sweeter than revenge is love.
He was the good-looking one, the one who'd always counted on his charm to get by. But the war had changed them all, leaving Owen painfully aware that looks could kill as surely as bullets. On the trail of the traitor, he no longer prided himself on his ability to break hearts, especially when the heart belonged to a girl as plain-featured and plain-spoken as Hetta Gwynne. Hetta made it clear she had no interest in winning a man, only in winning back her ranch. But after tasting her surprisingly heated kisses, Owen realized it was his own heart that was in danger of breaking unless he could change her mind.
A group of ex-Confederates who rode together vow to get revenge on the man who turned traitor and got good people killed each get their story in the some times gritty, but passionate Night Riders series. This time its handsome, smooth-talking Owen Wheeler, who sets out to track an evil man who’s now rustling cattle into Mexico, but instead lands himself into trouble of the female variety.
Texas Bride is book two in the Night Riders series. While it does continue the story arc of revenge as the Night Riders seek to capture and hang Laveau, the main romance line of the story is standalone.
I found Texas Bride a disconcerting reading experience. I enjoyed it on one level, but there was also part of me that wanted to fling it across the room. I did some growling and swooning in turns.
First of all, Owen Wheeler is a cutie and a charmer, but lord love a duck, he’s also pretty messed up when it comes to women. However, that’s fair since his lady love, Hetta, is a man hater. What are the odds that both of them had a terrible parent who destroyed their ability to see good or trust in the opposite sex and swear off relationships? Well…
Owen had a promiscuous and cold-hearted yet beautiful mother who only wanted riches and men to fall all over themselves for her. Hetta had a father who hated her existence and made it clear she was worthless and ugly and the source of his problems. And these two meet. The sparks fly and we have a story of push and pull as they see the good in the other eventually, but not in themselves. I loved seeing them stand up for each other and really work to help the other one heal. Owen was able to work his magic on helping to heal a whole town, in fact. Owen sees himself a certain way when it comes to the guys from his former military unit and his cousin. He feels guilt over something and it eats at him just like his anger toward what Laveau has ton and is doing lights a fire of revenge.
The overall plot was captivating and I was very into it, the characters, the situation, and the southern Texas Reconstruction era setting. The author put some great historic detail into the background and his characters fit in well with the times.
And, I love the insertion of some comic relief on the part of the secondary characters surrounding Owen and Hetta like her best friend and her supposed sweetheart who seemed to be dragging his feet about his courting.
The rustling part of the plot had some good complications like the fact that a whole town thinks Laveau is their hero saving them from the Army and the Reconstruction crowd who will take all they have left and he promises to save them from the rustlers who are bleeding them dry. Owen had to tread carefully thwarting Laveau’s efforts and getting proof against him. It was pretty exciting at first particularly when his lady interest appears to be in possible cahoots with his enemy.
So you’re probably wondering what’s not to like.
This book had a great start and a great finish, but a frustrating center when it comes to the romance pair. I get the fact that Hetta is an emotional abuse survivor. I’m not making light of that nor how much time it takes to heal from it if ever. That said, I got exhausted reading the same ol’ monologue in Hetta’s head for 70% of the book. (Yep, I looked when she finally got her epiphany- 70% on the nose) It was an exhausting romance to read particularly since Owen’s issues really kicked into high-gear just as soon as Hetta gets sorted out. Meanwhile, not a lot moves forward with the rustling and the manhunt for Laveau until the last ten percent.
In summary, it was another lovely experience with an author who continues to wow me with his romantic westerns, but I would definitely prefer less time spent inside this heroine’s head while she was rehashing the same stuff- as realistic as that probably is. I do look forward to seeing the next Night Rider get his adventure in romance and hopefully get closer to ending that evil slime Laveau.
My thanks to Sourcebooks Casablanca for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
New Release #187
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