Kaki Warner continues to impress and dazzle me with her fantastic western historical romances. A tall, handsome Texas Ranger and a strong-willed pretty woman share painful pasts and a desire for something special in the future if they can get past her dark secret and their different dreams.
Texas Tall opens with fourteen year old Charlotte Weyland finishing a task set to her by her grandfather that nearly guts her before she moves on to start a new life in a new, accepting small town in Texas. She makes a place working for a kind couple at their store and making friends with others in town.
The peace of the town is shattered when a gun battle happens between Texas Rangers bringing in a man to justice and the man’s friends trying to break him free. Lottie rushes out into the street to care for the wounded ranger who caught her eye earlier. This was the first encounter and they proceed from there. He antagonizes her and she returns it in full.
Both know that a lot stands in their way. He’s a ranger and not allowed to be married as a ranger and when he quits he plans to go into ranching. Lottie never wants to go back to dirt poor ranching and has dreams of making money with her business acumen and being rich. Then there is her past and the deed she has done which Ty might not be able to forgive.
Meanwhile, Lottie immerses herself into the doings of the townspeople and making her wise investments. Until the day her past comes calling and she sees the betrayal of trust in Ty’s eyes. Will their love survive this?
Alright, so this one did well setting up a Texas ranch town with colorful characters and a heroine woven into the fabric of a town and the many situations there. Ty is the outside element who gradually shifts from wandering ranger to future rancher. The story slowly builds. It’s not just an isolated romance, but the story of a whole town of people with Lottie as the catalyst.
Lottie is not typical of her times. Her grandfather raised her to wield her intelligence like a knife, to stand on her own, to trust only herself, and be courageous in the face of impossible situations. She has a strong need for control because of all the losses early in her childhood and the one last thing that made her grow up fast. I thought it was cute that for all her brilliance, she is still very much a sheltered young woman who needs to grow into her britches. She’s curious and has to be up in everyone’s business.
Lottie gets most of the narration time, but Ty shares it. He was a hero to ride the river with. This man had to grow up hard and fast living in Texas border country, losing his family, and then riding with The Frontier Battalion. He has no idea what to make of this sharp, beautiful woman he suddenly has in his sights. He wants her, but he won’t let her run roughshod over him either. I loved that he appreciated her intelligence and applauded her gifts even while also standing firm so she would respect him, too.
I love how the author surrounds her story with western feel and historical setting with it always feeling organic to the story. I learned about the border country situation and the rangers, the boom of economy after the war and the desperate times for the smaller ranches. I loved the inclusion of the ‘English’ invasion, the saloon life, and the other ordinary citizens and their lives in the town.
The romance is steady, but slow. Just when it looks like they’ll leap ahead, one or the other puts on the breaks and does the mature thing. Near the end, I was starting to get anxious because Lottie kept pulling the handbrake out of fear and her control issues, but then she gets whopped with an epiphany that set a fire under her real fast. I loved this pair and enjoyed their passion, playfulness, and sizzling battles.
All in all, this was another fabulous Western story by an author that I’ve begun to just snag her next book with no hesitation whatsoever. Western historical romance lovers do yourselves a favor and give this one a go.
My thanks to Berkley Romance for providing this book in exchange for an honest review.
Romance Roundabout #320 HR