The Bodyguard's Bride
Lonesome No More
A Family Secret

Texas Royalty by Jean Brashear
(Silh. Sp. Edition #1343, $4.50, PG) ISBN 0-373-24343-X
If Texas Royalty is any indication of how the aristocracy behaves, it's no wonder that most monarchies have bitten the dust.

The Texas Royalty prologue introduces the allegorical princess and pauper. Eighteen-year-old Devlin Marlow and sixteen-year-old Lacey DeMille are in love, but being caught by her 'Lord of the Manor' father ends their youthful plans. Devlin winds up in the military, and Lacey is sent to boarding school overseas.

Fast forward seventeen years. Devlin is a successful private investigator, a far cry from his poverty-ridden teenaged years. He's been hired by a set of siblings to locate their missing sister, who just, coincidentally, turns out to be Lacey. Devlin hasn't seen the princess for seventeen years but still blames her for choosing her family and wealthy lifestyle over him.

Lacey DeMille is unhappy with her life. She feels that she's never lived up to her parents' expectations and also has the task of fending off a pompous ass plastic surgeon, her parents' choice for her. When Devlin has the winning bid on her picnic lunch at a charity auction, she's ambivalent to see him again. After all, he'd let her dad pay him off seventeen years before.

Wait a minute! Anybody who's a die-hard romance fan can see where this is headed. Both were lied to by dear ol' Dad and feel betrayed. Mistrust rears its ugly head again. When these two finally explain their perspective to the other, the flood lights come on. Aha! So they'd both been lied to. How astonishing!

Reading Texas Royalty was like reading two stories, and those stories had different emphasis. For most of the book we're subjected to endless recriminations from both characters, and their constant carping, mostly internal or sotto voce, becomes tiresome. I counted over twenty references to their relationship, a relationship that ended seventeen years earlier. Making a point is one thing, but belaboring the issue is tedious. The phrase, "Get a life," seems particularly apropos.

There's also the fact that Lacey is adopted, a surprise to her. The connections to her newfound family are confusing. Lonesome No More and A Family Secret come before Texas Royalty, but I didn't know that. There are no references anywhere to let me know that I'm reading a spin-off story. Without knowing any of the history, a scorecard would have been necessary to make sense of the family ties.

A third thread appears, concerning Devlin's dad and Lacey's father. The resolution to this one is preposterous, considering the severity of her dad's offense. The fact that Devlin didn't extract his pound of flesh makes him a better person than I'd ever be, knowing what a scheming, manipulative windbag her dad is.

Also, her parents, the hoity-toity rich folks of Houston, are portrayed with such a small amount of warmth and with no milk of human kindness in evidence. These people are as realistic and interesting as papier-mâché characters. A secondary character who's as shallow as a dry lake is already considering plastic surgery, and she'd not even thirty. And when Lacey's plastic surgeon date mentions that it won't be long before she needs it, I lost all respect for these vapid people.

What seems a shame is that the last part of Texas Royalty is really good. After Devlin and Lacey realize that they've been wrong about each other all these years, this story becomes interesting, an enjoyable tale. However, too much time is spent on recriminations, shallow people and confusing plot lines.

It's really a case of too little . . . too late.

--Linda Mowery

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