Published by Harlequin on September 16, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
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Their love was born in Texas…
Gabriel Brandon had been her hero ever since she was a girl and he'd rescued her, an orphan, from sure ruin. And Michelle Godrey had loved him forever, the mysterious rancher with the dark eyes, her protector and guardian angel. Now she'd blossomed into a woman. But could Michelle ever cast aside the shadows that lingered between them? Could she show Gabriel that their Lone Star love was true?
I’ve been reading Diana Palmer since grade school, and even if her heroes aren’t exactly politically correct—okay, they have a distinct cavemannish flavor to their alpha stew—she continues to be a guilty pleasure of mine. When I picked up Texas Born, which is a fairly recent addition to her Long, Tall Texans series (true, it’s a couple of years old, but the first books were published in 1988!), I was expecting the usual formula. Which is not a negative point, mind you. When authors are this prolific, they tend to develop formulas over time, and sometimes this is what makes readers so loyal.
Anyway, Texas Born was a bit unusual for a Palmer novel. Most of her books feature characters who spend a lot of time ripping at each other, only to give into a blaze of passion. That’s particularly true of the male main characters, unfortunately. But in this novel, Gabriel takes remarkable care of Michelle. And while he may be a bit heavy-handed in his brand of protectiveness, he doesn’t cross the line, and he is never cruel or even short with her. It was surprising but also rather nice to have a Palmer hero who doesn’t go through the storm of denial when it comes to how he feels for the heroine, and so this book was a refreshing read for me.
Michelle was more typical of the Palmer heroine mold, young and naive and ignorant of her own appeal. I would’ve wanted to see more fire in her (I found myself enjoying the character of Sara, Gabriel’s feisty yet haunted sister, more than I did her), but I think because I’m fairly well acquainted with Palmer’s characterization patterns, it wasn’t as much of an issue for me as it might have been had this been the first book I read in the series.
As far as plot development goes, about 70% of the book is focused on establishing the characters’ relationship with one another, and while this is a bit slower in pace than readers might be used to, I kind of enjoyed the slow burn, so that when the point of conflict hit and things got dicey for the hero and heroine, I was well enough acquainted with their characters to know how they would handle it. And this is actually the point where Michelle really shone as a character, taking the high, hard road with no promise of reward simply because it was the right thing to do.
On a final geeky note, I was totally amused by the World of Warcraft references, since I used to play a little WoW myself (although I’ll admit Hellscream was one of my favorite characters, although I liked him in the original timeline and didn’t really follow his story through the alternate one). I was so amused that immediately after finishing Texas Born, I bought and read Sara and Wolf’s story, Wyoming Strong, which was more typically Palmer in characterization and story line, but which also appealed more keenly to the geek in me.
Would I have enjoyed this book so much if it were my first ever Diana Palmer novel? Maybe not. But I’ve been reading this author since the ’90s, when the books were published under Silhouette’s Special Edition line. I frankly just relished the chance to revisit Jacobsville and Comanche Wells. And while I don’t really look for white knight characters in modern romances, Gabriel straddled the line of alpha love interest and throwback hero well enough that I found myself one-sitting his and Michelle’s story.
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