The Impossible Texan
Allie Shaw’s first novel, The Impossible Texan, is an entertaining one, and if the romance is a little on the tame side, the political plot and likable characters ensure an enjoyable read.
Marlena Maxwell is the daughter of a Texas senator. While she’s forced to play the part of a Southern belle, she’s also determined to run her father’s re-election campaign in the post-Civil War era. Enter Tyler Hamilton III, Senator Maxwell’s choice of campaign manager – and a Bostonian. The new addition to the Senator’s staff comes as a shock to everyone in Austin, but Marlena is devastated, and determined to drive the Yankee home in shame. But it seems that the formidable Miss Maxwell has met her match in Tyler Hamilton.
The Impossible Texan has a likable cast, and a well-paced political plot. The romance, however, is a bit lacking. The hero and heroine strike sparks from the first, and quickly decide to pursue them, after some token protest from each. They profess their emotions fairly early, and then focus on keeping their clandestine love from Marlena’s family, who have plenty of problems of their own. The consummate beta male, Tyler doesn’t want to cause any sort of scandal, so he refuses to do more than share a few clandestine kisses. In short, he’s a little boring. But nice enough. In fact, he sort of a good metaphor for the romance story in that sense: boring, but nice enough.
Shakespearean sonnets add a nice, classical touch to the story, but the shades of Romeo and Juliet that Ms. Shaw attempts to color the tale with fall short of appropriate, given the lack of passion (either physical or emotional) that is really apparent in the novel. The physical side starts off well enough, with the characters sparking a bit of passion in each other, but the sizzle turns quickly to fizzle each time, as if the author is afraid of what will happen if she lets these two characters really become attracted. Likewise, the emotional relationship gets a little – very little – work in the early part of the novel, but after that, we’re simply told the characters care for each other, and that’s all we have to go by.
That said, the political plotting provides a fun backdrop to a story that is not bad by any means. I found myself eager to return to it every time I put it down. Aside from the suitor who seems to be a major problem in about the middle of the book, but is never really heard from (despite the fact that the hero claims the suitor is about to propose) the basic plot is actually quite fun and well fleshed-out. For a first novel, this is a good start, and I look forward to what Ms. Shaw will do in the future.