Saturday, October 18, 2008

Promises To Keep

Regular readers of this blog are probably sick of me bitching whining lamenting the fact that Maggie Osborne has retired from writing. Some nonsense about spending more time with her family. Like her family needs her more than I do! Bah! Well, at least I still have several of her books in the ol' TBR. That's some comfort I suppose.

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 who don't know any better is that her heroine's are too "rough." Certainly Jenny is very rough. This is a woman who has not had an easy life. It's been hard. And what she knows about kids she basically doesn't like. It's amazing to watch her, over the course of this story, open her heart to a child who prays to God every night to "kill Jenny" and who succumbs to Ty's devilish charms. Maggie Osborne's heroines don't need the romance. If the man never comes along, they'll go on living and be just fine. No, Maggie Osborne's heroines deserve the romance - and yes there's a huge difference.

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+

14 comments:

Cathy in AK said...

I enjoy reading about heroines who are tough but have vulnerabilities. Christa Fausts' Angel in Money Shot and Emma Donoghue's Mary in Slammerkin come to mind. We'll ignore the illegal aspects of their characters and situations ; )

I don't think I've read any of Ms. Osborne's novels, but this prompts me to look for her at my library. Thanks for the head's up!

azteclady said...

Another Maggie Osborne to hunt down...

Wendy, I love you, but my TBR mountain is gonna smother me in my sleep any day now.

Barbs said...

I loved Jenny! wonderful book

Kati said...

How is it I've never read a Maggie Osbourne??!!

Wendy, if I were to pick one up, which would you recommend?

Wendy said...

MK: You can't go wrong with I DO, I DO, I DO. You get three romances for the price of one, and it's a "lighter" read. Also, it should be fairly easy, and inexpensive, to find used.

I also loved Prairie Moon and The Seduction Of Samantha Kincaid.

Jill D. said...

This was my first Maggie Osbourne book and I really enjoyed it. So you are telling me there are even better ones out there? I'll check out the ones you recommended to MK.

Wendy said...

Jill: I'm still working through her backlist, but even when I'm not madly in love with an Osborne book, it still captivates me on a certain level. Girlfriend just flat out wrote great characters.

I highly endorse the ones I recommended to MK, and in case anyone cares....so far there have been two Osborne books I've been "ho-hum" about. Those were A STRANGER'S WIFE and SHOTGUN WEDDING. Again though, even though I was ho-hum they were still books that "stuck" with me.

Kati said...

Cool! Thanks, Wendy, I'll put them on my TBR list.

azteclady said...

No love for Silver Lining? That's my favorite Osborne so far. I mean, I've liked several others of hers, but Silver Lining is by far my favorite of hers.

Wendy said...

AL: That one is still in the TBR....

Maria said...

Wendy - thanks for the review. I'm with MK - I'll hunt down I DO.

I don't mind if the h/h aren't together early on. In fact, I like the drama and uncertainty. It rather mirrors my life.

little alys said...

Who is this Maggie Osborne and why have I never heard of her before? Need to track down her books now. ^_^

azteclady said...

Oh Wendy, Wendy, you poor thing you!

You seriously GOTTA READ Silver Lining soonest. Talk about a rough edged heroine!

I got my s.o. to read it out loud with me (we alternate chapters) and he loved it even more than I do!

Nicole said...

I'm going to have to try to find this one. Looks good.