Friday, November 16, 2012

Review: The Texan's Irish Bride by Caroline Clemmons (4 stars, Western)

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Thoughts After Reading:
There are many ways to write a marriage-of-convenience romance, and I think the route Caroline Clemmons chose for her western The Texan's Irish Bride works rather well. After all, it's hard to go wrong with an Irish gypsy for a heroine, a morally upstanding rancher as a hero, and a unexpected marriage between the two. For the most part, I  enjoyed the tone of the novel - a fast-paced, slightly humorous historical adventure intertwined with a easygoing romance. The conflicts are handled very well, allowing for a slight level of angst without things ever getting out of hand. My only real complaint was that the romance was almost too understated at times, and therefore didn't seem to have much in the way of depth. The characters are good people, are attracted to each other, and - although there are minor bumps - fall together without all too much happening in either a negative or a positive direction. Despite this, the relationship still remained sweet and the ending was triumphantly happy.

The heroine is one of those fun characters who is larger-than-life. She is exceptionally beautiful, strives to be the perfect wife, has expectations yet is easy to please, and - as a quirky attribute - knows a series of Irish superstitions that she takes very seriously. She has grown up with a family of gypsies, living in a traveling wagon. The story opens with the hero having serious injuries and being threatened at gunpoint. It turns out that the hero saved the heroine from being attacked by a couple of marauders at the expense of being shot himself. The men holding guns on him are the heroine's family, but - when she quickly explains the situation - they bring him into the wagons for healing. During this time, the heroine's parents consider having their daughter marry the stranger. They don't wish to force anything upon the rescuer, but they also don't want the cruel man who leads their group of gypsies to take their daughter as his wife. The parents note that the stranger's actions have shown him to be a good man, that he seemingly has wealth, and figure that it would be no burden to be married to their beautiful daughter. So they make sure the heroine is found in a seemingly compromising position with the hero, and the couple is married. The hero is understandably upset about the situation, since he doesn't like to be forced into anything and had no plans to take on a wife anytime soon. At the same time, though, he is an honorable man and plans to do right by his wife as much as possible. He just hopes what he can do will be enough and has some doubts as to if the whole thing is a scam. The heroine, meanwhile, figures that the hero will turn out a nobody like herself sooner or later. But she plans on doing the best she can be as long as she holds the position of wife, particularity if it will help her parents from fighting with the gypsy group the leader. The hero initially maintains a position of internal disappointment that he was forced into this marriage with this superstitious young woman, even if she is gorgeous and even if the wedding bed quickly becomes one of the highlights of his day. However, his thoughts subtly hint at the idea that the heroine becomes more and more important to his own happiness as the plot moves forward. Events progress as the hero lets the caravan camp on his property, brings his in-laws to live in his house, adjustments are made, small conflicts are created, villains are vanquished, and everything is resolved at the end.

I most certainly enjoyed Caroline Clemmons' The Texan's Irish Bride. The plot premise - as well as much of the subsequent storyline - was simply entertaining to read. Both of the protagonists were admirable, and I was particularly enchanted by the good-hearted heroine with her cumbersome Irish brogue. So - while I felt there were some imperfections to the story - I would recommend giving the novel a look.

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