by Georgina Gentry, historical (2011)
Zebra, $6.99, ISBN 978-1-4201-0851-4
Georgina Gentry has been writing for a very long time now, so her books can have some quite old-school sensibilities, especially when compared to the historical romances written by newer authors. Rio is part of a series called The Texans, but it is also linked to most of the author's Western historical romances in the past. Fortunately, this one can stand alone despite being part of a very long-running series.
Turquoise Sanchez is almost old school in how she makes no apologies about wanting the best in life for herself. This is not a heroine who wishes to remain humble, heh. She is half-Mexican, half-American, but she is determined to belong to the cool crowd even if those folks look down on her for being half-Mexican. Okay, so her effort at making a successful debut doesn't go too well, thanks to the sneers of the people around her and a seamstress who deliberately made her the wrong clothes to wear. But she has attracted the attention of Edwin Forester, a dashing and handsome wealthy gentleman, so it looks like her dream is about to come true. Now all she needs to do is to fight her attraction to Rio Kelly, a half-Mexican, half-Irish vaquero who is hired by her father to tend to the horses at their place.
Rio has an interesting heroine who doesn't play by the rules of the meek and humble, but unfortunately, this story is determined to humble her, to show her that she is wrong to aspire so high beyond her station. This story often contradicts itself - on one hand, it condemns those who want Turquoise to know her place, but on the other hand, it is also determined to teach that lady to know her place. Fine, maybe we should all aspire to be modest and content with our lot in life, but the way this story goes about teaching Turquoise the important lessons in life is quite bizarre.
Rio, for example, is ghastly. He is an ungentlemanly brute - he paws the heroine whenever he has the chance even as he mocks her for daring to aspire above her station. (Of course, when Rio does this, it's fine, because he's the hero.) My favorite is how he loses control and goes all the way with Turquoise, and then, when the morning comes, he deliberately becomes cruel to her to drive her away - for her own good. So, before he sleeps with her, he considers Turquoise a haughty wench who does not know her place and he mocks her efforts for wanting to belong to a group he has nothing but contempt for. But after he has slept with her, all of a sudden, she is too good for him and she deserves to be with those people he has nothing but contempt for? What is this? Turquoise reasonably concludes that he's kicking her out after he's had his fun, and she's giving him way too much credit. That idiot Rio genuinely believes that he has to hurt her to show her that she belongs to Edwin, not him. Of course, he's already had her, but I guess Rio just likes to be melodramatic for the most stupid of reasons.
Edwin is a nice fellow who treats Turquoise like a lady. Of course he is the bad guy! Hilariously enough, Edwin is far more a gentleman than Rio can ever be. At one point, he is frustrated because Turquoise doesn't respond enthusiastically with his efforts to go past first base. Little does he know that real men, like Rio, just take what they want and to hell with everything else. Sometimes, in romance novels, it really doesn't pay to be the nice guy.
If you wish to read Rio, be my guest. Just be warned - there is an imbecile hero with a chip the size of Texas on his shoulders, running around pouting like a little brat.
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