Review of AN HONORABLE TEXAN by Victoria Chancellor (see her website)
Harlequin American Romance #1215, June 2008
Christine Simmons has been waiting for this moment for eighteen months--ever since weekend fling Cal Crawford was sent to Afghanistan with his Army Reserve unit. Now the sexy rancher is back home and she can't delay any longer. She'd got to tell Cal that he's a father, that he has a wonderful boy. She's prepared to deal with anger, but she hopes that the one weekend they spent together meant something to him, that there might be a chance that the two will have a magic that clicks for more than just a night or two.
Cal Crawford is an angry man. He's angry that the Army Reserve deal he'd signed up for--a weekend a month, with a couple of weeks of training in the summer--had turned into an eighteen month tour. He's angry that he was wounded in battle. He's angry with his brother for ruining the traditional ranch, alowing bison and dairy cattle to graze where his family had always raised beef cattle. He's certainly angry with Christine Simmons for keeping his son a secret from him, for giving him a name that doesn't carry on the family tradition, and for not agreeing to marry him at once. Most of all, though, Cal is angry with himself. What he doesn't understand is that his anger is not only destroying him, it runs a risk of destroying the best thing that could ever happen to him.
Christine works on restoring a long-abandoned motel in small-town Brody's Crossing while letting her son get to know his father. The physical attraction she feels for Cal is still in full effect, but she knows that simply giving into her desire can only mask their emotional differences. Unless Cal is able to come to terms with the real Christine, unless he can face the reality that his son might want to pursue a life that's different from the ranching career that Cal obsesses over, unless he can overcome his anger, yielding to the desire that pulses between them will simply make their situation more painful.
Author Victoria Chancellor (see more BooksForABuck.com reviews of novels by Chancellor) continues her BRODY'S CROSSING series with a story that combines Chancellor's strong emotional sense with small-town warmth. In Brody's Crossing, everyone knows everyone else's business, everyone cares, and the community is working together to create opportunity in a depressed west-Texas environment. Chancellor populates her town with quirky characters--making a strong case that people need to try something different if what' they've always done isn't working--a message that adds some depth to her message, for those who are willing to read a bit more deeply.
Where Chancellor really excells, though, is in her development of a strong emotional entanglement between Christine and Cal. It isn't just physical desire that draws the two together (although that is certainly an important part of the pull). Each can, if they allow themselves, fill a hole in the other's life. Christine needs love and family support. Cal needs to tear himself from his attachment to tradition, even to the honor he holds like a shield to protect him from the world, and give himself a chance to discover who he is. But sometimes even virtues--like honor and following family tradition--can become destructive.
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