The Bachelor Project

The Best Blind Date in Texas

A Cry at Midnight

Coming Home to Texas
by Victoria Chancellor
(Harl. American #1035, $4.99, PG) ISBN 0-373-75039-0
There sure seems to be a rash of unwanted pregnancies in romance land these days. Coming Home to Texas is a little bit of a twist on the genre though. This time the real source of conflict is not the baby but whether the mother can be independent enough to work and be a mother and wife, too.

Jodie Marsh is a plus-size model who has worked herself into a lucrative contract for a major cosmetics firm. Just after she signed the contract, which included a morality charge, she found a man to have a steamy love affair with in Monte Carlo. While they really enjoyed the sex and the company, she left to fulfill her modeling career and he left to return to his architectural firm. But one slip in the shower (pardon the pun) and their bout of unprotected sex produced a baby. Now Jodie comes to see the man to convince him to marry her temporarily so that she is not an unwed mother.

Travis Whitaker, a confirmed bachelor after one failed marriage, surprises everyone, including himself by wanting a real marriage and family with Jodie. There is just something about Jodie and her pregnancy that touches him and he is certain he wants to at least plan on forever if he is going to get married again. Now the question is, can Jodie have this kind of permanent marriage while still maintaining her career?

I really enjoyed this tale on many levels. I liked the fact that these two talked about their problems most of the time. I liked their personalities and how they were so self-assured (most of the time). I enjoyed their sexual and romantic banter. The romance, when they allow it to surface is heartwarming and full of expectations.

Unfortunately, the story stalls as they spend time trying to figure out how to not show they love each other and how to compromise without giving up what they really want. Jodie, because of her father, fears giving too much control of her life to Travis. She feels that she must stand on her own and moving to Texas would be self-defeating. But she hides that fear and vulnerability. While she talks about the wedding and the need for the marriage, she won’t talk about her feelings, her dreams and her plans, even when the plans involve flying back to California for business the next day. She also sulks a lot, making her less than sympathetic. She wants it all, her career and her child. And she doesn’t trust Travis to allow her that flexibility or to stick around with her. But she also sees her career in very black and white terms – it is this way or no way.

Travis, on the other hand, is dealing with issues from his marriage and his mother, who chose to be a second-class actress rather than a first-class mom. This trauma clouds his thinking. He tries to cajole and often comes across as just a shade shy of a bully. When he gets upset, he hightails to the barn, either to clean or to ride the Texas range. His character was likable on one level and not so likable on another. He is also interesting in that apparently he is a self-made millionaire who works when he wants and really doesn’t need to. In fact, while there is peripheral notice that he is an architect, he really never is shown doing anything.

It is this lack of consistency in the characters and the lack of action in the story that keep me from a recommendation. This couple really needs to go to therapy to determine which kind of life they will lead in the end. I can see one of two outcomes. They can put aside their childishness and start leveling with each other about all their thoughts and feelings. This will lead to understanding and the ability to work together to solve life’s problems. Or they can get ticked off, avoid the other for a few days and then try to act like nothing has happened, until they are forced to confront the issues. How they choose to live will determine their happy ever after or not.

Since they seemed to waver between these two choices all through the book, I am not convinced they will choose the right one, despite the sweet ending. Coming Home to Texas really ends up being one of the middle of the road reading experiences that one can live with or without.

--Shirley Lyons

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