August 2012, American Historical Romance (1885 Texas)
Berkley, $8.99, 320 pages, Amazon ASIN 0425250377 Part of a series
I’m usually pretty forgiving about who I invite to a party, but sometimes there are limits. Like if you’d invited a friend and their partner to a nice quiet dinner, then found that your friend had brought their friend and partner. Then at 8pm, a friend of the friend pops up. And at 10pm, a friend of a friend of the friend knocks on the door. Worst of all is they’re nice people – but what started as a quiet, intimate evening quickly devolved into a rotating door of unexpected company.
Some people can adjust to that, in life as in reading, and those readers will enjoy Wild Texas Rose more than I did. Me, I didn’t expect to read about no less than four different couples and five or six points of view, none of which does any of the couples real justice. Granted, this is the sixth book in a series (which I didn’t know going in), but judging by synopses of the previous books this book has relatively few character and plot ties to the previous ones. So I feel no compunction in judging the book exactly as I read it.
So what’s the book about? In cases like this, nothing less than a bulleted list will do:
Rose McMurray: Adopted into the McMurray family (see previous Whispering Mountain books). Apparently likes order in her life and has refused countless suitors for random reasons I don’t understand. Travelling to Fort Worth to be bridesmaid to school friend.
Duncan McMurray: Ranger who was adopted into the McMurray family as a wild boy, and grew up with Rose. Loves her platonically and mutually, and will Never Settle Down. Currently in Fort Worth chasing after criminals.
Victoria Chamberlain: Aforementioned bride whose father and fiancé are involved something shady. Incredibly sheltered and spoiled, but seen kissing circuit judges on the terrace, which shows she has some good judgment.
Killian O’Toole: Aforementioned circuit judge. The best man at the wedding for reasons unknown to him (and to me), and who met Victoria in an earlier life (or earlier book). Scarred from the Civil War after seeing his brother bleed to death on the battlefield. Drinks a lot when he lands in Fort Worth.
Abe Henderson: Shop owner and fellow drinking companion to Killian. Limps from a war wound, and pines after the schoolmarm. Finally gets up his courage and embarks on strangely affecting not-quite-affair with her in the general store storage room.
Stitch: Tall scary scarred guy hired by Duncan to watch over the ladies because of previously mentioned criminals. Heart of gold, obviously.
Hattie: Curvy, friendly not-quite-whore with a heart of gold, hired to be Rose’s maid. Or Victoria’s maid. I don’t know any more.
And they lived happily ever after. The end.
Okay, so they did, but only after lots of things happened to make their happy endings worthwhile. I found this book extraordinarily bloated and easy to lay down, but pleasantly written despite its shortcomings. I imagine angels flying over human houses must feel like this sometimes – all the people! All the humanity! And undeniably interesting to pop in for a visit, but only if they haven’t demons to slaughter and harps to play, all of which is more interesting than examining snapshots of lives they really don’t care about.
-- Jean Wan
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