To be perfectly frank, I was very disappointed with this book. After Tex is written by Sherryl Woods, and I have enjoyed her writing in the past (just last year I gave her Amazing Gracie a grade of B+). The plot is this new book is interesting, a few of the characters endearing, it touches on an important issue, and involves two strong and likable people as the romantic leads.
What it is lacking, unfortunately, is closure. Romances are not like other works of fiction – fans of romance read the genre knowing that they may or may not be in for a bumpy ride but the end will be satisfying and complete. With such an ending, we can assume that the two people we have become attached to for the course of the story are well on their way to HEA. Not so, unfortunately, with After Tex.
Megan O’Rourke left Whispering Wind, Wyoming, after high school and never looked back. In the course of a few years, she has not only managed to get herself a career in the entertainment industry, she has managed to create a multi-million dollar multi-media corporation out of her name, only surpassed by Martha Stewart. She does a TV show and has a magazine, all based on home improvement, cooking, collecting, and crafts. Her offices are located in New York City where she is thriving. Her lifestyle is drastically changed, however, when she gets the news that Tex, her grandfather and the man who raised her from the moment she was dumped off on his doorstep as a young girl, has died. She rushes back to Whispering Wind to find that her grandfather has left her the ranch in his will, with the stipulation that she stay and raise Tess – an 8-year-old daughter of his that Megan never new he had.
Another development Megan hadn’t counted on was dealing once again with Jake Landers – a man who, as a boy, was the most important person in her life besides her grandfather. Jake is now a powerful attorney who has uprooted himself from a successful practice in Chicago to come home to Whispering Wind. Jake had become Tex’s trusted confident and drafted the will causing Megan to question her life choices and priorities.
There are many noteworthy moments in this book: the honest handling of spousal abuse, the friendships, and the developing relationship between Megan and Jake – sometimes interesting, sometimes touching. Then there is Todd – the perfect Executive Secretary. I wish I had a Todd. He could give Mary Poppins a run for her money.
Unfortunately, these problems outweigh the good qualities:
- This book suffers from the dump on the heroine syndrome. Jake mentions several times how Megan wronged him as a teenager. He and several locals give her the you never called guilt trip. What, the phone doesn’t work both ways?
- It is repetitive. How many times to I need to hear Megan think to herself I really need to make a decision?
- The lack of closure. The secondary theme – that of spousal abuse – at the end takes precedent over the main story line. I realize that it is a worthwhile theme, but the main gist of a romance is the romantic development between the hero and heroine (as if I needed to tell you all that). Because of the abrupt shift in focus, we never know what Megan decides regarding her career. We never know what happens to the person who betrayed her. We never know what happens to her best friend. And we never know how some fragile secondary relationships are developing.
Thanks to Ms. Woods’ skills, I came to care about what happened to the characters in this book. Unfortunately, she left me high and dry as to what actually happens to them (how can a relationship work if the career question hasn’t been settled?). Certainly this would leave a number of readers unsatisfied. Almost unsatisfied enough, in my case, to consider hurling After Tex across the room when I was done. Not a good sign