The Tender Texan by Jodi Thomas
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
If you enjoy an old school western romance, this is a book you will like. The Tender Texan has both a hero and heroine who are survivors. They both have suffered tragedy and turmoil in their short lives. I absolutely adored Chance. He is a true, tough, fierce Texan, but he was also so loving and caring towards Anna. Jodi Thomas knows how to write absolutely scrumptious heroes--both incredibly loving and tender, but also formidable western heroes who know how to handle themselves and to take care of their women.
Chance has moved up near the top of my list. He's probably #3 now, #1 being Carter from The Texan's Wager, and #2 being Winter McQuillen from Two Texas Hearts. Chance lost his family in a renegade Indian attack, all except for his infant sister. His goal has been to make enough money to pay for the care of his sister. When Anna Meyer approaches his cattle campsite and asks for a man who is willing to marry her for a year, he offers himself, even though he's only nineteen years old. That's the kind of man Chance is. He might be young in years, but he's a fully grown man who knows how to handle himself and take care of his own, and he does that and more for Anna. Chance falls hard and soon for Anna, despite the fact that he's spent more time around cattle than women. He dreams of making love with his wife, making her his first and only woman, but he has to get past the wall around her heart first.
Anna frustrated me terribly at times. I did understand her issues, having been raped by her husband, and taken advantage and mentally/verbally abused by her mother. Yet, she wasn't able or willing to give Chance the opportunity to prove that he would be a good husband that she could love. The frustration I felt towards her couldn't be a mere fraction of what Chance felt. She craved his closeness, and was attracted to him, but her past had showed that a man couldn't give her anything but pain and humiliation, and that she was foolish to trust anyone or learn to depend on them. It was sad to read, because they both deserved better. Although Chance was the kind of man no one took for granted, because he was more than able to take care of himself; he had nothing on Anna. She is incredibly stubborn. I think that's a good thing. She couldn't have survived the tribulations she went through otherwise. Anna's not going to be a meek wife. She'll keep Chance on his toes. But, it's more than clear that he wants no other woman than her.
Although there isn't quite as much action in this story as some of Jodi Thomas' books, the depictions of the harsh journey that the German immigrants (including Anna) have to take from the Gulf Coast to their lands in New Braunfels are full of dangers--mainly from sickness and disease. I was actually glad that there wasn't a lot of Settler-Indian conflict in this book--that just breaks my heart. I liked that Ms. Thomas made it clear that not all Indians were violent towards the settlers. Chance has an issue with an Indian that killed his family, but he's not out to kill them all--he's actually friendly with various groups.
I like how Jodi Thomas shows humanity in all its forms. Her down-to-earth way of writing characters really speaks to me. I like her humor, a welcome counterpoint to the inherent danger and sadness of a life on the frontier.
It was good to immerse myself back into another fantastic romance by a dependably wonderful writer in the western romance genre. Definitely recommended.
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