Wednesday, November 16, 2005

3 Heart Hell

TRR reviews book on a scale of 1-5 hearts. I reserve one heart rating for pure dreck. Those books that make me want to shoot myself, ram my head against a wall, or *shudder* do house work instead of read. Five heart books are those super-fantastic books that I don't want to end. I'm quite stingy with these. In fact, I didn't review one five heart book in all of 2004, and have only granted that status once in 2005 (Prairie Wife by Cheryl St. John for those of you keeping score).

Three heart books are the worst to write reviews for. Those are the "average" books. The books that are pleasant reads, but have problems that are hard to overlook. I just turned in a review for my 3rd three heart book in a row. I'm starting to get punchy.

I'm feeling guilty about this, but The Texan's Reward by Jodi Thomas was that third book. Don't get me wrong, it's a pleasant read, has a nice style and a large cast of interesting characters. Too bad there's barely a romance to speak of.

Jacob Dalton is a Texas Ranger who has spent most of his adult life rescuing an orphan girl nicknamed "Two Bits" from one scrap or another. Well "Two Bits" is now grown up, a woman thanks to puberty and schooling back east. Nell Smith now has the ability to kick Jacob's libido into gear.

Crippled in an ambush, and bound to a wheelchair, Nell decides she needs to get married. She needs a husband to help her oversee the ranches she inherited. When Jacob gets wind of her fool plan (she's taken out newspaper ads!), he rides back into town and proposes to her.

Nell is not real hot over this proposal. She does love Jacob - too much to tie him down to marriage with a cripple. He deserves a woman who can give him everything - a settled life and children.

What works here? Well Thomas can write and she has a way with characters. Nell has a habit of taking in strays, and her home across the tracks is soon stuffed to the rafters.

What doesn't work? Um, where's the romance? When Jacob and Nell aren't arguing about marrying, they're dealing with external conflict. This includes missing gold, a train robbery and the secondary cast. In fact, Jacob spends a large portion of the novel away on Texas Ranger business. There is no courtship here. There is no wooing. A couple of tender interludes do not a romance make.

The Texan's Reward is a spin-off of Thomas' Wife Lottery series (all of which are still in my TBR thanks). From what I can figure, fans of the series were really looking forward to this book and I'm sorry to report that the romance is rather lackluster.

Still I've read much, much, much worse. It's just a shame this wasn't better. It has a lot of potential, but it just never quite hits the jackpot.


Nicole said...

Poor Wendy. Hopefully whatever you read next will be good.

Lyn Cash said...

I find your reviews VERY enlightening, Wendy - always, always enjoy them. As a writer, I take note of the theme that seems to run rampant during the past few books...more focus needed on internal conflict than outer. What has been surprising is that so many well-published and very talented authors are doing this. Makes me wonder if the ones used to cranking out the books aren't forgetting what drew them to write romance to begin with...namely the relationship and all its aspects. As for newbies, perhaps they see what's being published and think: I need more action, more adventure, less heart pounding and soul searching.

In either case, keep 'em comin'.

ReneeW said...

I enjoy your reviews and recently read Prairie Wife because of your 5 heart review at TRR. Thanks for pointing me to a great book! Hope you find something great to review soon.