The Promise of Jenny Jones is a favorite among many romance readers and yes, I am just now getting around to reading it. Such is the life of someone who owns more books than is good for her.
Jenny Jones is a mule driver, a buffalo skinner, and now a condemned women. Nobody in the god-forsaken, backwater Mexican town could believe a soldier could be so drunk that he'd actually attack someone like Jenny Jones. So there she sits in her jail cell, waiting for her date with a firing squad, all because she killed a man in self-defense. That's where Marguarita finds her.
Marguarita is dying of consumption and knows her days are numbered. What she proposes is that she'll take Jenny's place in front of the firing squad in exchange for Jenny taking her 6-year-old daughter, Graciela, to her father in California. Theirs was a passionate love affair, torn apart because both of their daddies were pig-headed bigoted assholes. So even though Marguarita was married to Robert, she was sent away to Mexico in disgrace, and Robert stayed in California to protect his inheritance of the family ranch. Marguarita fears for her daughter's life, because she believes that once she is dead, her vile cousins will cut Graciela's throat. With Marguartia dead, Graciela stands to inherit a lot of money. With Graciela dead, the cousins stand to inherit a lot of money. And ain't it always about the money?
Jenny Jones is no lady, but she does have morals. She never lies and once she makes a promise, she keeps it. Which is why Marguarita entrusts her with her daughter, and why she doesn't back down when the murderous cousins make multiple appearances and Ty Sanders shows up on the scene. Ty is Robert's brother, and promised him he'd go to Mexico to bring back his wife and daughter. Who he finds is Jenny Jones, a woman unlike any other he has met before. She's a gal that can hold her liquor, who doesn't whine when she gets shot, and is protecting his niece, who doesn't like her all that much, from thugs.
In my opinion, the whole point of reading romance is, well, the romance. I like the hero and heroine to be on the same page together fairly early in the story. That does not happen here. Ty and Jenny only have occasional run-ins (where they keep stealing the kid back and forth) until page 160, and the author only has 377 pages to work with. The only thing keeping this story from being a DNF for the first half was that it was Maggie Osborne. Wendy does not give up on Maggie Osborne.
And damn, it's a good thing I didn't either. Because while I was being lulled into complacency, something happened. Yep, the author blindsided me. Little did I know, I had fallen in love with Jenny, Ty and Graciela. I was hooked. And then the emotion showed up, and damn, a few tears leaked out. Yeah, I cried....and I do not cry over books. Just don't.
The "knock" against Osborne's books by some readers
All of the characters grow and change over the story. Couple this with my tears, I found the second half to be close to perfection. Even though they're barely together in the first half, the chemistry between Ty and Jenny leaps off the page, and Jenny's later scenes with Graciela are enough to rip your heart out. Even cynical skeptics like me. It's not my favorite Osborne, but dang, it ain't half bad.
Final Grade = B+