Judith’s review of Be My Texas Valentine by Jodi Thomas, Linda Broday, Phyliss Miranda, and DeWanna Pace.
In Texas, Valentine’s Day is for restless hearts, brave second chances, and passion rekindled. This sizzling quartet of Western historical romance stories includes tales by “New York Times”-bestselling author Thomas, Linda L. Broday, Phyliss Miranda, and DeWanna Pace.
Anthologies are ordinarily my thing as I like full-length novels. But having said that, I have read a goodly number of novellas in recent months and have come to value them far more than in previous years. This anthology turned out to be a really fine piece of work and a very enjoyable read. I like cowboys and historical novels set in the American West, and this anthology has both of those. It is also a set of stories that do not overlap one another and which deal with the phenomenon of Valentine’s Day in a different way.
The Valentine Curse: He is solemn and taciturn, barely talking and silently working long hours, doing everything and more than was asked of him. Yet he is a Yankee, a Northerner in a Texas community in the years immediately after the Civil War. He needs the job, and even though he rarely gets more than the left-overs or the food no one else will eat, he takes it as being far better than going days without eating at all. Our heroine is a widow, a woman who has buried more than one husband, and a person who is thus avoided as having a “curse.” Only one man is willing to chance this female–she has a farm, is willing to allow him in her bed, and finds that even a silent and secretive man is better than being alone. Their marriage of convenience gradually grows into far more, but not without some emotional potholes and bumps in the road to true love. It is a warm and winsome story, truly in the style of and reflective of the storytelling ability we have encountered in Jodi Thomas’ work.
Cupid’s Arrow: A young woman is now engaged to a man who is openly using her to further his career and social position, a man who has no concept of what it means to respect another person, only to use them for his own purposes. For his bride to be, she was working very hard to please her father, a U. S. senator who took great delight in using his political clout to get people to do as he chooses. Her true love, the man who seemingly betrayed her and chose to take a bribe from her father, continues to plague her heart every time she runs into him. In truth, her heart has never stopped hurting, and even during the years she was away at college, she never really understood why the man who purported to love her took money to turn away from her. It is this deep fissure between Rue Ann and Logan that is the crux of this novella. There are some surprises and a couple of maidenly sisters who manage to turn events around so that a lot of truth is exposed that some fairly prominent people don’t want exposed. It’s an exciting story and a very romantic one.
Loving Miss Laurel: The days of the railroad were exciting and for towns and communities in the distant Western territories of the United States, the railroad meant commercial life and access for individuals and families, for suppliers and law enforcement. It also meant that local politics was often galvanized by the issue of the railroad’s arrival in a particular town. In this very entertaining novella, the women of the community are deeply offended that the only issue that seems important is the arrival of the railroad. As women had no social clout or legal standing, they may make a lot of noise, but it was only those with a head for strategy who ever got their way. Here the women want a library–educating their children and increasing the literacy of the community was far more important to them. And in the midst of all that are two people who have again been connected in the past by their attraction but who were separated by circumstances and have now again found themselves thrown together by an interesting, though somewhat convoluted set of circumstances. Miss Laurel makes some deeply disturbing and hurtful discoveries about the only family left to her after the death of her parents; Hunter Campbell finds out that he is not as immune to Miss Laurel as he thought. Both must face life as it is, not as they either hope it is or as they would like it to be.
Sweet Talk: Our hero is the town doctor, having taken over his father’s medical practice. He is THE bachelor over whom all the single girls and unmarried ladies salivate. Our heroine is a young women of great intelligence but deeply wounded in body. Living in the confines of a wheel chair, she bears the simpering and strutting of her older sister, a woman who loves her younger sister but one who really does spend far more time cowtowing to her own needs and desires. Now our disabled heroine has a love bird who easily picks up partial phrases and is not loath to spout them. Dr. Powell has a love bird that is literally dying of loneliness. Somehow the two come together and with the machinations of a scheming housekeeper, our hero and heroine must face some truths about themselves and one another. A delightful romance that revolves around the Valentine Day dance and the secondary “romance” of two real, live lovebirds.
I liked everyone of these stories. All were well-written and the stories themselves took a creative whack at the Valentine holiday, all in a good way. It wasn’t all just boy-meets-girl. Rather, each story brought characters into the action that could have so easily lived in the Old West as well as now. It was a delightful read and even though Valentine’s Day is now months passed, this collection of stories can easily be read at any time of the year.
I give the book a rating of 4 out of 5
You can read more from Judith at Dr J’s Book Place.
This book is available from Zebra Publishing. You can buy it here or here in e-format.