Rating: Outstanding Adventure!
While I am generally a fan of Regency or Victorian era romances, I’ve had a sudden hankering for the American West. Especially, after reading Ellen O’Connell’s Eyes of Silver, Eyes of Gold, which I found fantastic in an angsty, sickeningly sweet way . I’ve read a couple western romances in the past that have been hit or miss, but I decided to give Jodi Thomas a shot after seeing her name pop up on many lists for western romance, hoping for a winner, and find one I did. The Texan’s Wager is the first in a series and I totally loved it!
Bailee Moore has agreed to participate in the wife lottery in order to get out of jail. Bailee and her traveling companions have been locked up after possibly killing the man, Zeke, who attacked them. The sheriff decides that to deal with them, he’s going to have the men of the town enter a lottery for the ladies’ hand’s in marriage and handily resolve his problems. Carter McKoy, in a wild, instantaneous impulse, decides to put his name into the ring and by chance ends up married to the practical, spinsterish Bailee. Bailee’s not sure about Carter, her silent groom, but she wants to make the best of a bad situation. Slowly the two of them get to know one another, but trouble brews on the horizon when it seems the man Bailee and co. killed isn’t actually dead, and he’s looking for revenge.
I was totally in love with this book and didn’t put down after picking it up. It’s always fun to find a new author that you like, and I will definitely be looking for more of Thomas’ books, and reading the rest of this series. In the romance department, it was pretty tame, but I loved the relationship development between Carter and Bailee. Carter especially was a refreshing character. You just don’t see very many innocent-type heroes like Carter. After the murder of his parents, he’s basically been the town reclude, never speaking, and totally unfamiliar with the ways of the world. For example, at one point Carter advises Bailee that she could go and live at a “boardinghouse” and he’s got no clue that it’s a whorehouse. It was refreshing to have this kind of character and I liked the complications it brought to the romance.
My one complaint with the book would have to be the under explained events of Bailee’s past. She’s left her family behind to travel out West because she killed someone. This is briefly looked at near the end of the novel, but I kinda feel this is a big deal and I think it deserved some more focus. I would have liked to have found out all of the details for what led Baliee to kill, and I feel like I never got that here.
Overall, I highly recommend this one for fans of Western Romances, and also for fans of romances that focus on the sweeter side of romance. Some may call this “sickly sweet” but I can it awesome and it gets my seal of approval.
Up next on my Western Romance reading education list is Maggie Osbourne, another Western writer who I hear good things about – time will tell.
Eyes of Silver, Eyes of Gold: Like Baliee and Carter, Anne and Cord have a not so great start to married life, but the tough work is worth it in the end.
Mountain Wild: Maggie would be the female version of Carter. She’s innocent in many ways of the world, and it takes an unconventional guy to look past the outer trappings, just like Baliee had to look past Carter’s lack of words.
The Officer and the Bostoner: Allison and Wes marry by happenstance, and like Carter, Wes is hoping to do anything to keep Allison around. I’d say that Wes is the character most like Carter, so if you liked the beta type hero, you’ll likely enjoy this one (or any of Gordon’s books for that matter).