The Impossible Texan

The Impossible Bride by Allie Shaw
(Ballantine, $6.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-8041-1965-1
I’m not sure why, but I’m not a real big fan of abductions in historical romance. I guess they just don’t seem realistic to me. I’ve read romances in which the heroine is making mental notes of her abductor’s sexy physical attributes even as he is dragging her away. Give me a break. I guess I like to think that if I were ever abducted, I wouldn’t be eagerly jumping into the arms of the enemy the next day. When I started reading The Impossible Bride, I really didn’t think I was going to like it. The “marriage-by-abduction” scene takes place in the very first pages of the book, and it kind of put me off. Thankfully, the book took a turn for the better as the heroine began to show her intelligence and independence.

It is somewhere in the nineteenth century. In fact, the author does not specifically tell us what year it is. Deborah Edgerton has traveled miles from her home in Austin, Texas, to accept a position as secretary for one “Pat O’Connor.” She is running away from a big scandal and is hoping to start a new life. However, when Deborah gets off the train, she is shocked to be met by Patrick (known as “Trick” for reasons that later become obvious) O’Connor. Naturally, Deborah was expecting to be working as a secretary for a woman, so she is quite surprised to see that “Pat” O’Connor is neither a woman, nor looking for a secretary at all.

Patrick drags Deborah off and forces her to marry him. She is bewildered, and cannot understand why he would want to choose a bride in this way. In fact, it is easy to see why she would be confused…couldn’t he have gotten a mail order bride or something? It turns out that Patrick is trying, in his misguided way, to fulfill a promise he had made to his son, Duncan. After his wife died, he had promised the boy to find him a new mother by the time he was six. Well, now Duncan’s sixth birthday is looming ahead, so “Trick” O’Connor has decided to trick Deborah into meeting and then marrying him.

Deborah is at first shocked and angry at being abducted. She doesn’t want to give Duncan false hope about getting a new mother but can’t help responding to the boy’s curious and friendly nature. As the days wear on, Patrick and Deborah are both quite surprised to find that they are developing respect for one another. Their budding relationship runs into some snags. Deborah has a tough time trusting Patrick. She struggles to reconcile her feelings for the tender, attentive Patrick with the anger she has for the Patrick who abducted her. Patrick is terrified of falling in love again, because of the death of his first wife. As their relationship progresses, both characters grow and are eventually able to be honest with one another and move on. The relationship had a realistic quality to it. I was really rooting for both of these characters.

The first half of The Impossible Bride deals with the abduction and the relationships between Patrick, Deborah, and Duncan. The second half of the book takes the reader on an overseas adventure in search of a unique and precious pearl. While this was interesting and exciting, it seems a little jarring, appearing quite suddenly in the middle of the book. It is on this trip that Patrick and Deborah consider making their marriage of convenience a “real” marriage. There are other forces at work, however, who are waiting to destroy the O’Connors’ happiness upon their return.

The way Patrick and Deborah overcome their troubles at the end of the book seems quite rushed. At the very end, the reader is left with three or four loose ends that are tied up in a single paragraph! A little bit of elaboration would have been helpful. As it was, I felt like my head was spinning.

What made this book work for me was the characters. They were unique and imperfect enough to make them lovable. Deborah, although she seems like the starchy, schoolmarm type at first, shows admirable strength and ingenuity as the book progresses. Her source of vulnerability is her desire to be loved for who she is. She also wears spectacles, something that many readers (myself included) will identify with. Patrick is a hero that can handle any situation. He a very strong personality, and yet also manages to be a tender, loving husband and father. His loyalty to his family is very endearing.

This book was far from impossible to get through. In fact, I found myself quite eager to pick it up throughout the day. The problems I had with this book very likely stem from the fact that Allie Shaw is a relatively new author. The Impossible Bride is her second book, the first being The Impossible Texan. These books are related, but you don’t need to have read the first to enjoy this one (I didn’t). Overall, I found this to be a delightful read, and look forward to Ms. Shaw’s next offering.

--Kerry Keating

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