Texas Rain by Jodi Thomas
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Jodi Thomas has done it again for me. I love how she can write such a genuine story that draws me in each time. I didn't think she could top the Wife Lottery Series, but I have to say I will probably have to eat my words. There is only one Carter McKoy for me, but Travis, now he certainly earns a place on my hero shelf. I enjoyed the complexity to Rainey's character. She wasn't unrealistically goody-goody or innocent. She made some decisions that weren't always highly ethical or selfless, although she is definitely a person of both strong morals and generosity. She led Travis a merry chase, however I can see why. I loved that Travis understood Rainey's issues and gave her what she needed to feel safe as a wife. While I was shouting, "Marry him already!", I could also understand why she was afraid/reluctant to do so. I think that even to this day, women do have to think long and hard about who they choose to marry, and moreso back in this time period where women had little rights or independence in a world that seemed to be wired for men. I like the way Ms. Thomas deals with these issues, not in a preachy way, but very matter of fact. She writes about several women who are in different situations, but all have to operate in a world that is dominated and controlled by men. With Rainey, the reader is able to examine that dynamic of a woman juggling the love of a man with a need for her own independence and control over her life, and I was able to empathize with and respect Rainey and root for her to gain both things in her life.
Equally complex was Travis. He's that tough, capable western hero that I love to bits, but he also has vulnerabilities, not in the least as a man of mixed heritage, with an Apache heritage that is written on his features in a society where Indians are the enemy and hated and feared equally. Also, he faces a life-changing injury, which requires him to look seriously at what his identity is as a person. Will he be happy and productive if he can no longer work as a Ranger? What's left for him if that is gone? I liked that Travis fell hard for Rainey and he had to deal with his sense of awkwardness in how to pursue her and romance her as a man who never thought he'd marry and start a family. Would he be happy with a friendship with his 'fairy woman' or would he be satisfied with nothing less than her as his wife? He couldn't have been more appealing to me.
I also liked how Ms. Thomas handled the issue of slavery. When I saw that this was set in 1854, I sighed. I really, really hate dealing with the slavery issue in historical romances. I'm black, so when I read these books, I think about how it must have been for black people to be slaves in this part of American history, and when I think about this, it makes it harder to enjoy the romance part of the book. In this case, Ms. Thomas managed to keep my conscience happy with those aspects of the book, and was able to keep that from detracting from the story, and it was realistic how she dealt with Mamie's situation.
Can I say how much I adored little Duck? What a sweet little boy. I just wanted to hug him. And Travis was such a good adoptive father to the orphaned, traumatized little boy. Nothing more sigh-worthy to this reader than a tough hero who is good with kids! Travis' relationship with Duck brought another layer of fantastic to this book, which was already pretty darn fantastic to begin with.
What can I say? Jodi Thomas has it when it comes to writing romance. She doesn't rely on a lot of bells and whistles. She brings simple to an art form. She just has what's needed: intriguing, lovable, relatable characters, an interesting storyline, great dialogue, and excellent western world-building and action that makes this Western-lover a happy camper.
I can't give this book less than five stars. That just wouldn't be right! Highly recommended!
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