A Hitch in Heaven

Plain Jane's Texan

 
Her Texan Tycoon by Jan Hudson
(Silh. Desire # 1432, $3.99, PG) ISBN 0-373-74632-4
***
Smith Rutledge is a twin to Tom Smith. He discovers this when Tom’s ex-wife faints when she sees him. It seems Tom is dead, and Jessica O’Connor Smith thinks she is seeing her husband’s ghost! Sound like the start of an interesting story? Unfortunately, Her Texan Tycoon has a lot more potential than it delivers.

Millionaire Smith Rutledge is feeling sorry for himself and has been for three years. That is when he accidentally discovered that his blood type makes it impossible for him to be the son of his parents. When he confronts them and they deny any such thing, he sulks away and refuses to see them. His businesses, both of them, are tremendously successful and he is feeling useless.

Jessica is his exact opposite. She is poor, barely making ends meet, and busy starting a new business enterprise with her childhood friend, Shirley Miles. “Handbags by Jessica Miles” is the name of their business and Jessica is on the road in her old RV, meeting with shop owners and attending trade fairs. Shirley is the finance manager and holds down the home front with the help of her husband Mack.

Jessica and Smith cross paths in a crowded restaurant when Jessica looks up while carrying her tray to her table, sees a dead-ringer look-alike to her dead husband, yells out “TOM” and faints. She falls, causing a man to trip over her, breaking her wrist. When searching through her purse for identification, Smith finds a picture of Jessica and himself…or is it? In addition, the doctor is concerned over a bump on her head and the fact that she’s anemic. Smith is now intrigued, takes care of all her medical bills and takes her home to recuperate.

Once there, Jessica finds her every wish granted and her every concern resolved. Other than one brief moment of standing on her two feet and demanding she be allowed to run her business, she sits back and allows Smith to handle everything.

There are a lot of improbable occurrences in this story that you can accept or not. Not only is Smith rich, he is powerful and hooks Jessica up with a buyer from Neiman Marcus. He has hired help to assist her in producing her handbags. He offers assistance and she easily takes it.

There are many inconsistencies in the pair. Smith goes from brooding to energetic to lighthearted to loving to brooding and surly. Jessica goes from confused to naïve to worldly to wide-eyed wonderment to a fool in love. I could never really decide if I liked either of them for any length of time. Not truly caring for the two main characters makes it hard to be invested in the results of their love affair.

The sexual scenes between the two are steamy and sensual. No complaints about this aspect. And their interlude at the beach is everything you want a romance to be…fun, sexy, steamy, playful, hot, and exciting. But it is all too brief.

Their growing love and my sense of enjoyment in this is ruined by their inability to communicate with each other. Jessica falls for Smith, but since he doesn’t act like he loves her, she is afraid to tell him. Smith has convinced himself that Jessica is hot for him, but only because he looks like her deceased husband. So he avoids her and tries to act like he doesn’t care. This misconception is carried on a little too long, and becomes tedious.

The subplot that involves Smith and Tom and how the twins got to be separated is conventional and added little to the overall story. I think if Smith was a character that I was sympathetic to, I might have been more understanding of his angst about his origins. But I find it hard to be empathetic when a man has it all, has a wonderful family and feels so sorry for himself.

Jessica is a woman who has pulled herself up from nothing and her energy and enthusiasm when she is successful is charming. Yet, when she is easily lulled into just doing what Smith says, I want to shake her for her complacency. She shows signs of being an engaging character, but is never fully developed.

All this together makes Her Texan Tycoon one of those stories I feel a limited connection to, but cannot really write off completely.

--Shirley Lyons


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