4 stars

Historical Romance Review: Texas Tempest by Deana James

Texas Tempest, Deana James, Zebra, 1986, Pino cover art

His own sexuality he recognized as propinquity, tenderness, caring, the beauty, and gentleness of a woman’s body. The infliction of pain, even pseudo-pain, excited him not at all.


4 stars

Rating: 4 out of 5.

***Spoiler alert***

Zebra’s Texas Tempest features yet another great, steel-willed Deana James heroine. James has written many resilient heroines before, such as in the seafaring antebellum romance, Captive Angel, and the medieval romance, Lovespell.

The Heroine

The prologue begins with Eugenia Leahy getting beaten by her no-good drunkard of a husband, Cormac. When he goes after her daughter, that’s when mama bear springs into action, grabs a firearm, and shoots him, paralyzing the abuser for life!

We then flash forward 10-15 years later, and Eugenia is running her ranch and doing a great job at it! Tough, cold, and stern, Eugenia is known as “The Diamondback,” as deadly as her namesake. But she is still a woman in a world dominated by men, so she needs some muscle to enforce her rules. Enter the mysterious MacPherson, a gunslinger who saves Eugenia’s life and is just the man for the job.

By page 75, Eugenia Leahy has shot three men. You don’t mess with the Diamondback! As usual, Deana James’ heroines are the major draw in her books.

The Hero

A hero who can match the heroine in greatness is just the icing on the cake. And what a hero! MacPherson is the little boy from Texas Storm who was declared dead by his Comanche father and forced to walk naked after his tribe, living off their leavings. He was adopted by that book’s protagonists, Reiver MacPherson and his wife, Mercedes-Maria.

Mac is 5 years younger than the 35-year-old Eugenia and this is a bit of a hang-up for her since in the mid-19th century older women generally did not have relationships with younger men, even if they were their secret lovers.

Yes, MacPherson and Eugenia become lovers and except for her husband, their romance has the all-clear. Eugenia’s daughter approves and that’s the only person whose opinion matters to her.

The Plot

As usual for James, the romance is not the only plot point here, but the high-stakes western drama. There’s a lot of lovemaking, but even more action. There’s an evil rancher with designs on Eugenia’s land. MacPherson is beaten, whipped, and hanged by said evil grandee, yet he miraculously survives despite all his violent suffering. Eugenia is sold to a whoremonger, but MacPherson is there to save her.

There is a scene where Mac is forced by the villains to hurt Eugenia and it disgusts him.

Like an automaton, MacPherson struck again. Only by remaining absolutely motionless could he control the anger that was rising in him. Far from being aroused by the spectacle, his own feelings were revolted. His own sexuality he recognized as propinquity, tenderness, caring, the beauty, and gentleness of a woman’s body. The infliction of pain, even pseudo-pain, excited him not at all.”

So our hero isn’t into dominating BDSM or using force on a woman. MacPherson may be a man of mystery, but he’s very simple in his preferences and has nothing but appreciation and love for the female body. Sex is not entwined with violence for him. Refreshing.

The main conflict keeping Eugenia and Mac from getting together permanently isn’t her husband because we readers know: 1) Eugenia doesn’t give a damn about Cormac and 2) Her ailing, wheelchair-bound husband is going to die in the end, anyway. It’s when MacPherson’s true heritage is discovered that Eugenia’s insecurities come to the forefront. Not only is MacPherson more than the simple loner she initially thought he was, but Eugenia feels abandoned by her teenage daughter, who finds love with the son of a prosperous Spanish family.

Final Analysis of Texas Tempest

The story got a little drawn out for me after the 70% mark, so this enthralling read turned into just a very entertaining one. Regardless, it’s a 4-star keeper for me, one which I will have to reread just for how tenacious and capable Eugenia was, a woman of that greatest and rarest of strengths: fortitude.

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