Rio Grande Wedding
I am thankful for buzz. Good or bad, it often draws my attention to books I’d otherwise overlook. There was so much buzz about the horrid cover of Rio Grande Wedding that I couldn’t resist picking it up when I spotted it to see whether it lived up to its bad rep. Yikes, it was hideous! The hero, who in the story is a hardworking, dark-skinned immigrant from Mexico, is pictured with skin paler than that of any self-respecting vampire. He looks weak and soft and has the teeth of a man who never learned the fine art of brushing his choppers. The heroine looks drugged and appears to be staring at his teeth, or maybe she’s just mesmerized by their grossness? But since it was already in my hands, and because I’ve read Ruth Wind in the past and enjoyed her writing, I brought it home and immediately began to read and fall in love along with the heroine.
One morning widow Molly Sheffield wakes to find an injured man passed out on her property. Gazing at his dark good looks and taking note of his injuries, she comes to the conclusion that he must be one of the immigrant farm workers who escaped a raid the night before, led by her brother, the local deputy. She contemplates calling for help but puts those plans on hold when the man asks her, in an anguished voice, where Josefina is. Molly, a nurse by profession, doesn’t have it in her to turn in a man who obviously loves so deeply (and who is so handsome). She decides to heal and protect him until she can locate Josefina.
Alejandro Sosa is indeed in the country illegally. But he has noble reasons. Josefina is actually his eight-year-old American-born niece. Alejandro promised his sister he would look after Josefina if anything were ever to happen to her. When his sister died he left behind everything familiar in his small town in Mexico and traveled to the United States to look after his niece.
If the child is found, the odds are good that Alejandro will be deported and Josefina will be deprived of the medical care she desperately needs. Softhearted Molly is unable to allow that happen. She’s also grown to enjoy Alejandro’s company and is reluctant to let him go so soon. He has helped to heal the aching loneliness she’s been living with since the death of her husband four years earlier. So she proposes a green-card marriage with the intention of making it a temporary situation until Josefina is fully recovered. Umm, whatever you say, Molly.
This is a classic marriage-of-convenience story made memorable due to the lovely way it’s told. The writing is sensual and emotional and is totally driven by its characters, whom the reader gets to know on an intimate level. Unlike many romances, the motivations of these characters never left me questioning their intelligence. Both are lonely and vulnerable, and this comes across in a very believable and often touching way.
Alejandro is a rare find in the romance world filled mainly with promiscuous heroes. Sex and love are tied together for him and he cannot have one without the other. When he falls he falls hard. He has integrity and really is everything a hero should be. Molly is also a wonderful, giving heroine who has to work through her grief and deal with the unfair prejudice of the people she loves most, once her marriage to Alejandro is revealed.
The only thing about this story that didn’t work for me was the way the prejudice issue with Molly’s brother was neatly and too quickly wrapped up (and in the case of the townsfolk never resolved). Otherwise, this is a nearly perfect romance.
There is nothing I enjoy more than finding an emotionally satisfying romance. I feel secure in recommending this one to readers looking for a superior character-driven romance. Do yourself a favor and grab this one before it becomes impossible to find.