In 1879 Texas, handsome Brett Liberty is straddling two worlds; he is unable to fully embrace his Iroquois blood or freely conform to a world made for white men. The only time he finds peace is when he is with his mustangs… until he discovers rough-and-tumble Rayna Harper.
Having known little kindness in her lifetime, Rayna has built up a tough exterior. But Brett sees her heart buried beneath the layers of hurt and fear. Though he could never expect a woman to share his troubled life, he’s completely taken by this red-haired beauty. She seems to understand him more than any woman has before. As their mutual understanding melts into growing desire, it seems that a brush of the lips is all it takes to chase their troubles away…
This one gets off to a strong start, introducing two interesting characters, but it lost its way pretty early on. If you had told me Forever His Texas Bride had been written in 1972, I would have believed you, because from the too-kind-to-be-true heroine’s “fiery curls” to the flowery language, this does not read like a book written recently.
I read the book before this one, and had a fairly similar reaction to it, I think, but I don’t think it dragged at the halfway mark quite the way this one did. I do enjoy Western historical romances sometimes, but other times the restrictions of the rural setting can be limiting.
There is a good story buried in here somewhere, and I really would have preferred to have less of the relationship and all the agony that came with it in order to read that story! The characters both have tragic backstories that run the gamut of romance melodrama. You name a tragedy, and I guarantee you at least one of the two main characters has experienced it. And yet in true old-school romance heroine style, this one does it all with a smile and loves ponies, small children, and everything else women are supposed to love to prove their goodness.
I’m sorry that the story got stuck on these two sad sacks, because it was fun at the start, when they met in prison, and the heroine was sticking her feet through the bars to measure and see if she could take the hero’s moccasins!
However, they fall in love immediately and inexplicably, and then the conflict comes from outside, not from the relationship itself.
The story DID get stuck. Most of it happens out on the hero’s ranch, where a whole lot of them are camped for days and days. There are many people – a gang with growing numbers, all being spurred on by misinformation and fear – who are at the edges of the ranch, trying to frighten everybody off the land (or kill them) because of their race.
This sounds exciting, but the standoff goes for many days, with pretty much the same thing happening night after night (all of it covered on the page).
Most chapters finished this way:
Rayna Harper was a special woman. And she had his heart. Even if one day all this had to end.
The days are spent with hero and heroine agonising over how bad their lives are, how terrible their pasts are, and why they can’t be together. Then when they do get together, we have old-school language like this:
‘Lady, I don’t have a choice, because we are one. You are the keeper of the flame that burns in my heart.’
To help her toward the moment of glorious release, he kissed her…
And I’m sorry, but when a fourteen-year-old gets trampled by a horse and breaks numerous ribs, he can’t run around doing chicken impersonations while playing with children a couple of days later!
I know that some other early readers have enjoyed this one, but unfortunately I spent most of my time alternating between a wandering mind and quickly skimming the “romantic” passages because the flowery language was too much for me.
If you like older-style books, you might fare better than me.
Review copy provided by NetGalley.