Dell, September 2003
Reviewed by Sissy Jacobson
Rip Stewart not only gave his three daughters the names he had planned for the sons of his dreams, he raised them as he would have the sons he never had. Sloan, his first born, was trained to be overseer of the huge cotton plantation, Three Oaks, located along the banks of the Brazos River. Well trained and accustomed to the work a first son would have done, Sloan has taken over the running of the plantation following Rip's stroke. Doing the work of a man, day in and day out, while putting up with Rip's temper as well his fist on occasion, she has earned the promise he made. Three Oaks will be hers upon his death.
When Sloan allows herself to think and feel like a woman, she meets and falls in love with wealthy, neighboring rancher, Antonio Guerrero. Descended from royal Castilian stock, the Guerreros have prospered in the New World. Rancho Dolorosa, is the wealthiest cattle ranch in Texas. Antonio and his brother Cruz are equally intelligent and handsome with their aristocratic bearing, but it is Antonio who wins Sloan over. She gives herself freely to Tonio. She does not know he is involved with plotting with the Mexican government to overthrow the Republic. Learning she is pregnant, she seeks out Tonio, only to arrive just as he is killed by the bandido, Alejandro.
Filled with sorrow, she knows she cannot keep Antonio's child. He would be a constant reminder of her love for his father. In her panic, she turns to Cruz Guerrero, asking him to take the child when he was born, and raise him. Cruz, who has been in love with Sloan since the first time he laid eyes on her, makes a bargain with Sloan. He will take the child as his own if she agrees to marry him. He will give her time to become accustomed to the idea, but they will sign the marriage papers now, making them legally man and wife. Not knowing where else to turn, Sloan agrees. But she will only be his wife when Antonio's death is avenged.
When her son Cisco is born, he is turned over to the Guerreros, and Sloan refuses to see him or have anything to do with him. Later her younger sister begins arranging Sunday picnics, inviting Sloan, and without her knowledge, also inviting Cruz and Cisco. Slowly she begins to fall in love with her small son, but when he is gravely wounded, she vows that once he is well, she will never love anyone again. She throws herself into the work at Three Oaks, working as hard as any male overseer.
THREE YEARS LATER
When Luke Summers surprises them all and announces to Rip that he is his bastard son, and proves it, Rip threatens to give Three Oaks to him. Angry and heartbroken, Sloan leaves. With nowhere else to go she again turns to Cruz Guerrero. Now that the bandido Alejandro has been caught and hung, Cruz insists a priest marry them even though she has been his wife legally for four years. And she must keep her part of the bargain and become his wife in every way. But she promises him she will never love him or her son. She will never again risk losing someone who holds her heart.
TEXAS WOMAN is the third and last book in the Sisters of the Lone Star Series. Written in 1989, Ms. Johnston explains that she has changed the book somewhat. During the first writing, she was going through a divorce and had written the book so that everyone died in the end. Thank goodness she has rewritten part of it.
Granted this book is dated in many ways, but I love Joan Johnston's westerns, both historical and contemporary, so I overlook the dated parts and just enjoy the stories she weaves. The first two books in the series are equally good: FRONTIER WOMAN and COMANCHE WOMAN. I was not disappointed in the wait for TEXAS WOMAN.
Visit this author at http://www.joanjohnston.com
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