When a Texan Gambles
I haven’t read all that many books by Jodi Thomas, but she seems to do a couple of things admirably. Her romances have a sweet, touching feel to them, and she conveys loneliness and longing very well. When a Texan Gambles ably illustrates both of these strengths.
Sarah Andrews has always had a dearth of choices. Left on a doorstep as a baby, she lived through her childhood depending on one undependable person after the next. Her first marriage was disappointing, but better than her widowhood. After her husband and baby died while traveled west on a wagon train, Sarah and two other women were deemed bad luck and left behind. Their bad luck continued, and in a strange series of events, they wound up being raffled off in a wife lottery by a local sheriff. Sarah goes home with Sam Gatlin, bounty hunter and local legend.
Sam can’t quite understand why he put his name in the wife lottery, but he’s not sorry that he did. Sarah looks like an angel, and she quickly becomes necessary to him. Shortly after their wedding, he is stabbed in the back by an enemy and he is forced to rely upon Sarah’s medical skills to recover. Before long they must flee from and pursue outlaws – and Sarah’s past. In the midst of their adventure, Sam finds himself drawn to his wife in more than a physical sense. His plan to set her up in his home for periodic conjugal visits in between jobs begins to seem less and less appealing. But can Sam and Sarah make for themselves a regular life and a happy marriage?
Sarah and Sam are a likable pair. Sarah is a rather bossy and proper woman for all of her tumultuous past, and watching her order big, rough, and tough Sam about was frequently comic. Her character was slightly reminiscent of a Julie Garwood heroine, and Sam was properly entranced by her. They had some nice, if predictable, chemistry that was unfortunately interrupted a lot. Sarah forces Sam to promise that their marriage won’t be consummated until she is ready, and, unfortunately, Sam and I were both ready well before she decided she was.
I’m not usually a big fan of the road romance or the chased-by-villains plot, but the action in this story never overwhelmed the relationship, and some nice secondary characters appeared in the course of Sarah and Sam’s adventure. Some of the story’s conflict leaked out during the last third of the book, however, which was a bit anticlimactic. Also, in order to read the set up of the wife lottery, you will have to read The Texan’s Wager because none of it is included in this book (and for those interested, the final book in this trilogy is set to be released next fall).
The book is fairly light in tone, which was enjoyable, but it jarred when I realized how soon this is all taking place after Sarah’s husband and child die. Even for a woman who is used to fleeting relationships and disappointment, their loss should have been more psychologically devastating to Sarah than it was.
Still When a Texan Gambles was an enjoyable read, full of tender, funny moments and everyday, ordinary characters who manage to be out of the ordinary, somehow. Jodi Thomas has a devoted audience; her backlist is quite collectible. It’s easy to see what the appeal is: while some of her backlist features lots and lots of angst, the author also writes the kind of sweet romances that are getting harder to find.