The Impossible Texan
by Allie Shaw, historical (2001)
Ivy, $6.50, ISBN 0-8041-1964-3

I keep chanting "Debut author, debut author" as I read Allie Shaw's The Impossible Texan. The title is already such an easy target, I won't say anything about it. Debut author... debut author... oh scratch that. There's no Tennis Court Oath in this house. The Impossible Texan is a romance where only one half of the couple seems human, and I'm not talking about Mork And Mindy here.

The story has a simple premise: Southern belle Marlena Maxwell goes head-to-head against her father's political aide Tyler Hamilton in a show of who has the biggest penis in the house. Yes, Marly is a heroine who chuffs at the restrictions of her gender and wants to be her father's campaign second-hand man. Also, Tyler is a Yankee - eeuw. I don't know about y'all, but it's 1888, and 23 years seems a bit too long for a Southern belle to hold grudges for her state's defeat. Especially when she isn't even born yet when the States went to war.

But when Daddy's political career is threatened by an Unscrupulous Journalist, Tyler and Marly rally together, in bed, in the office - you get the idea.

Trouble hits me in the face at Chapter One when Marly throws a temper tantrum and storms into her father's office, even after being told that Daddy is in the midst of a meeting. "Day-deee... how dare you hire some Yan-keeeeee....!" And her behavior doesn't improve. Behaving like a spoilt thirteen-year old primadonna doesn't endear her at all to me, but most insulting is how the author has everyone in this story telling me that Marly is intelligent, useful to her father, and courageous. I'd like to chalk this contradiction as inexperience on the author's part, and not on the author's (hopefully not) twisted notion of feminine courage and independence.

The cover of this book has this teaser: She was the one woman he could not have... At the risk of sounding like a catty old female dog, I'd like to snort and say "Hah!" Tyler had Marly since hello, if you know what I mean. The relationship then chugs along on this conflict that has Marly trying her best to fall for a stuffy non-Yankee guy even as Tyler has and keep having her despite her protestations. Is this female independence and courage? If so, heaven help us all.

Show me, Ms Shaw. Don't just tell me the heroine is smart and then has her behaving like a petulant Punky Brewster on ice - don't insult me, please.

Tyler is a decent character, although I have no idea what he sees in Marly. Then again, he won't be the first guy to sleep with the boss' daughter to advance his station. Eh, Tyler? *elbow, wink, nudge*

The Impossible Texan is too much like a stereotypical first book - humor gone haywire, heroine acting more like a spoiled teenager than the intelligent woman the author hopes to create, and a plot that is simplistic with the loose ends tied up in lil' flowery bows more perfect than the christmas boxes under Martha Stewart's Christmas tree. Hopefully Ms Shaw's next book will have a heroine who acts her age.

Rating: 48

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