Texas Wedding for Their Baby's Sake
Texas Wedding for Their Baby’s Sake by Kathryn Albright is one novel where a reviewer doesn’t need to worry about spoilers. In essence, the novel’s entire plot is summarized in its title, leaving very little to a reader’s imagination. Whoever comes up with such a title? Right now, for the sake of the review, let’s pretend we don’t all know how it ends – that’s what I attempted while reading, anyway.
Charleston belle Caroline Benét was happily awaiting the announcement of her engagement to young surgeon Brandon Dumont, when due to a silly course of events, as “reward” for a shooting competition, she publicly kissed her betrothed’s older brother Jake, of whom Brandon was jealous anyway. To prove that he was as much a man as his adventurer brother, Brandon hied off to fight in the Texas War of Independence, leaving only a short note for her. Five months later, Brandon is still in Texas, having been severely wounded in body and spirit at Goliad prison. Jake is about to marry (his story is told in The Rebel and the Lady), when Caroline turns up as a surprise wedding guest, having convinced the Dumont estate manager to take her along. Truth is, she and Brandon anticipated their vows just before he left, and she finds herself pregnant. Her parents will make her give up the baby, and marriage to Brandon is her only chance of respectability and of keeping her child.
I quite liked Caroline. She has some difficulties in adapting to frontier life, but she tries to take everything in stride and she is open to new impressions. In addition, she as tenacious as she can get, which she needs, as her one big flaw is her taste in a fiancé.
Brandon is one big pain in the posterior. Apparently he used to be this strong, athletic, but still rather beta Southern gentleman, but now he’s in Texas, and wounded, he’s become a MAN. This encompasses being surly, ordering Caroline around, holding back vital information (like there are bandits in the vicinity), reacting like a spoiled brat whenever something doesn’t go his way, and pushing away everyone who tries to help him, including his brother. He still has the hots for Caroline, but this doesn’t cause him to speak a single kind word to her. We see him a lot through Caroline’s eyes, who desperately loves him, but even that did not make him likeable, much less lovable, in my eyes for a single second.
I wasn’t much cheered by the rest of the novel, either. The secondary characters remain shadowy with the exception of Jake, who is inexplicably hostile towards Caroline for the dimmest reason for a long time. I couldn’t get any kind of grip of the kind of life people lived there. There are a people of Mexican and US descent whose lifestyles may just clash, the war has just ended, what kind of society is here anyway? There are some decent descriptions of landscape, but that is about it. When I read a romance set on the American frontier, I expect a flavor both of the wilderness and its dramatic beauty and of the challenges the settlers faced, and this novel just doesn’t deliver.
The main issue I had with Texas Wedding for Their Baby’s Sake was the hero, however. Considering the historical context, it’s probably true that Caroline really needs to marry Brandon to provide her child with a father. It’s just a shame that she couldn’t opt for a quick divorce directly after, and go to find herself a real man somewhere else. Now that would have been a novel I would have liked to read.