Jodi Thomas, the queen of the Texan romance, just keeps turning out
entertaining stories with interesting characters and plots. The
Texan’s Wager will undoubtedly delight her many fans, especially
since she has created in Carter McCoy one of the most unusual heroes I
have ever come across.
This is a “marriage of convenience” story. Three women, Bailee Moore,
Sarah Andrews and Lucy Dillavou are abandoned by the wagon train that
was taking them to California: Sarah because she is sick; Lucy because
she is accused of being a witch; Bailee because the wagon-master knows
she has killed a man. The three refuse to give up and make there way
south towards Texas. As they approach the town of Cedar Point, they
encounter a man who tries to steal their wagon and Lucy. Bailee manages
to hit the intruder with a board and the three believe they have killed
him. They head for town and confess their crime to the sheriff.
The sheriff doesn’t know what to do with three lone women who claim they
are murderers, especially since no body turns up. So he hatches a
scheme that will get them off his hands and benefit the local
population. He holds a “Wife Lottery.” Without other options, the
three agree to marry the man whose name they pick from the hat.
Carter McCoy has made one of his infrequent trips to town to sell his
fruit when he hears of the lottery. He decides that perhaps a wife
would be a good thing so he enters. He soon has second thoughts; what
would a solitary man like him do with a wife? But before he can
withdraw, Bailee picks his name and he finds himself wed.
Bailee doesn’t know what to make of the tall, silent man who has
suddenly become her husband. All the way out to his farm, he says not a
word. His house is small but cozy and the farm seems prosperous.
Bailee convinces Carter to wait a month before consummating their
marriage. So the two begin to get to know each other.
Bailee is twenty-six and convinced that she is unattractive. Her only
suitor left her in St. Louis and obviously forgot all about her. But
Bailee is a survivor and knows how to work. She soon demonstrates that
she can make Carter’s life much more comfortable.
Carter is quite obviously different from most men. He is intelligent,
talented, hardworking, and able. But his experiences as a child and the
life he has led have kept him apart from normal human interactions. He
has no idea about how to relate to people except what he has learned
from books. He has spent his entire life more or less in isolation.
His gradual discovery of feeling and emotions are fascinating to watch.
The romance between Bailee and Carter is both sweet and sensuous as two
naifs gradually discover feelings that they have never before
experienced. Bailee gradually learns Carter’s story and comes to
understand the man she has married. But their growing love is
threatened by a world they cannot shut out.
The Texan’s Wager has a few problems. We never discover exactly
what happened to drive Bailee from her home. The concluding adventure
is not completely satisfactory. But the love story of Carter and Bailee
is so touching as to overcome these deficiencies. Obviously, Thomas is
planning to tell us Sarah’s and Lucy’s stories in her next books.
The Texan’s Wager is a most enjoyable beginning of what promises
to be an entertaining trilogy. I hope we meet Carter and Bailee in the
upcoming books. They are a delightful couple.