Monday, March 1, 2010

ReRead Challenge Review: The Texan's Wager

The Texan's Wager
Jodi Thomas
Historical Western Romance/1883
Wife Lottery series/Book 1
Jove/November 2002

From the back cover ~

Thrown off a wagon train with two other women and trying to avoid jail for a murder they committed, Bailee Moore agrees to enter a "Wife Lottery" - - a ploy concocted by the Cedar Point sheriff to secure wives for men in the small Texas town. For the sensible Bailee, however, marrying Carter McKoy is like exchanging one life sentence for another - - especially since her new husband hasn't even uttered a single word in her presence. But still, she can't help thinking that something about this strong, silent farmer could be they key to leaving her troubled past behind . . . and making a worthy wager with her heart.

I started reading this for Keishon's TBR Challenge because the hero is a virgin. I didn't get too far before realizing that I've read this book, and the series, before. But it was good so I kept reading and finally set it aside to read a book for Keishon's Challenge. But I kept The Texan's Wager handy since I planned to read it for Nath's challenge.

Alone in a hostile territory. Three women, one a young teenager, are cast off a wagon train and basically left to fend for themselves. Harsh but believable? Yes. Back then it was survival of the fittest and the wagon train was looking out for what was best for the train. Plus, the women had made some enemies and the reality was that they were not wanted on the train.

They soon run into trouble in the form of Big Zeb Whitaker. Soon Bailee(25), Lacy(15) and Sarah(20), find themselves in jail facing fines with no way to pay. Their jailer plans to find them husbands and have their new husbands pay the fines. I have to confess, one of my favorite romance tropes is the mail-order bride. While this isn't it, it's close. The lottery is held and the women are taken away by their prospective husbands or in Lacy's case, her father-in-law. Bailee is won by Carter McKoy, a rancher that keeps to himself and rarely talks.

Carter is so very different from the typical western hero. He is shy, quiet, a real loner without that bad ass attitude they usually have. He keeps to himself and has very little interaction with the townsfolk (I love that word, townsfolk). He is certainly a man of few words which Bailee discovers real quick.

When Carter finally reached the front, the sheriff looked at him and shook his head...

"Sure you want a wife, Carter McKoy?" Sheriff Riley laughed quietly. "You might have to talk to the woman if you took her home."

Wheeler, the sheriff's deputy, giggled and repeated Riley's question.

Carter didn't answer. He never answered. He'd learned a long time ago most people only talked to themselves anyway. He moved to the side, to wait with the other idiots who thought finding a wife would be as easy as paying a fine.
page 34

I do think Carter is one of my favorite heroes. He definitely holds a special place for me in the Hero Hall. Which is strange since I'm all about the alpha and Carter is a beta, but there was just something about him that I couldn't resist. His internal monologues are amusing, showing his insecurities and his tenacity. Something that has helped him survive alone for many years.

Bailee was a survivor. She's the oldest and the natural leader of the group. Lacy and Sarah looked to Bailee when the three were left alone. Bailee has been through some hard times and looks to the husband lottery as a chance, no matter how small, to make her life better. I liked Bailee. I liked and respected her for not pushing Carter into talking and giving them time to get to know each other. She was real patience with him and very understanding.

Carter and Bailee together made for an engaging couple. The way they worked together and simple let the other be, not forcing the relationship but letting it grow. They initially agreed to waiting one month before becoming intimate. During that time things change and a little girl needs their help. Bailee gets to see a side of Carter she normally wouldn't have seen had they stayed on the ranch. It was eye opening for her and made her realize what a prize she got when Carter won her in the lottery. Carter learns to open up to Bailee and a few select people. He also has a secret that he needs to share with Bailee but doesn't know how. Carter's fears have ruled his life but with Bailee he gets to learn to release some of those fears and let her in his life. Bailee and Carter's love story was a charming mix of humor, love and discovery. And even though Carter was a virgin he was still a man. ~

Any word she'd been about to say vanished from her mind as he reached up and pulled free the bow she'd just tied in place.

The thin material fell dangerously low across her breast, barely covering the tip of each.

She didn't move.
He tugged at the ribbons, pulling the material lower until it slipped beneath her mounds, once more leaving her bare.

The fire in his stare made her breath come rapidly as though she'd been running for miles.

He watched every rise and fall.

She waited once more for him to touch her, but he only stared. He watched her so closely she could almost feel him against her. He was making love to her with only a look. page 229

A beautifully written western with unique characters and an equally unique love story. I would recommend for any western fans.

Rating: A

I came across the cover for Ms. Thomas' next release. It's called Welcome to Harmony and it due for release June 1.

Here's the blurb on Amazon ~

Sixteen-year-old runaway Reagan has always wanted a place to belong. She's never had a real home of her own, but perhaps she could borrow someone else's. Under an assumed name and identity, she moves to Harmony, Texas, but keeps her distance from the welcoming townsfolk. Until prairie fires threaten Harmony-and Reagan learns the true meaning of family, friends, and home.

There's also a post on the PenguinBlog where Ms. Thomas talks about writing the new series that starts with Welcome to Harmony. You can find that here.


  1. Ohhhh, Leslie! I loove the silent type, alpha or beta... and in a western too. *sigh* Yeah, I'll be looking for this one. I'll also look for Thomas' next release since I really enjoyed the last one. :) Great review!

  2. Thanks Hils! There's something to be said about the silent type. When they do talk it's usually important. :)

  3. You know, story with characters that learn to open up are the best... because when the other parties realize that the character is trusting you enough to open up, that is such a gift. Something to cherish.

    Very good review Leslie! I've enjoyed Ms Thomas contemporaries a lot, but haven't read many of her westerns. I think I need to! :)

    Welcome to Harmony is going to be a contemporary right? It looks so from the cover...

  4. nath ~ watching that trust develop under the writing of a gifted author is always a pleasure.

    Yes, it looks like Welcome to Harmony will be a contemporary. So you should be able to read it w/o fear of any cowboys, cows etc. Maybe.:)