MILD SPOILERS 😉
Zebra‘s Texas Tempest features yet another great, steel-willed Deana James heroine. James has written many resilient heroines before. Such heroines include the ones from the seafaring antebellum romance, Captive Angel, and the medieval, Lovespell.
The prologue of Texas Tempest begins with Eugenia Leahy being beaten by her no-good drunkard of a husband, Cormac. When he goes after her daughter, that’s when mama bear springs into action. Eugenia grabs a firearm and shoots him, paralyzing the abuser for life!
We then flash forward 10-15 years later. Eugenia is running her ranch and doing a great job at it. Tough, cold, and stern, Eugenia is known as “The Diamondback,” deadly as her namesake is. But she is still a woman in a world dominated by men. She needs some muscle to enforce her rules.
Enter the mysterious MacPherson, a gunslinger who saves Eugenia’s life. He is exactly the man Eugenia needs.
The action is intense here. On page 75, Eugenia Leahy has shot already three men. You don’t mess with the Diamondback!
As usual, Deana James’ heroines are the major draw of her books.
In a Deana James romance, a hero who matches the heroine in greatness is pure icing on the cake. And what a hero he is!
MacPherson was the little boy from Texas Storm. His Comanche father rejected him, declaring him dead. So MacPherson was forced to walk naked, following after his tribe. He lived off their leavings. He was adopted by the protagonists of that book, Reiver MacPherson, and his wife, Mercedes-Maria.
Mac is 5 years younger than the 35-year-old Eugenia. This is a major concern 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.
As usual in a Deana James book, romance is not the only plot point. Texas Tempest is a high-stakes western drama. There’s a lot of lovemaking. There’s also even more action.
An evil rancher has designs on Eugenia’s land. His men capture Macpherson. They then beat and whip him, before attempting to hang him. Yet he miraculously survives despite all his violent suffering.
The grandee arranges to kidnap Eugenia. Then a whoremonger purchases her. Thankfully, MacPherson is able to save her just in time.
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 preference. He has nothing but appreciation and love for the female body. Sex is not entwined with violence for him. Very refreshing for a retro hero.
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!
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 then Eugenia feels abandoned by her teenage daughter. The girl finds love with the son of a prosperous Spanish family.
Final Analysis of Texas Tempest
Texas Tempest got a little drawn out for me after the 70% mark, so this enthralling read turned into just a very entertaining one.
Regardless, for me, it’s another 4-star keeper by Deana James. This is one I will have to reread just for how tenacious and capable Eugenia was, a woman of that greatest and rarest of strengths: fortitude.
|Rating Report Card|
SHE NEEDED TO HAVE HIM
Jet-haired Eugenia Leahy was sensuous and slender with an iron will that intimidated even the most powerful of men. Then a handsome stranger rescued her after a bad fall and the steel-hearted beauty suddenly felt soft and vulnerable. With one caress her body yearned to clasp him in an intimate embrace. But Eugenia had struggled too long for independence and vowed to drive away the man who threatened her freedom with the weakness of desire!
HE HAD TO POSSESS HERTEXAS TEMPEST by DEANA JAMES
When virile, towering MacPherson first saw the petite, fragile form sprawled at his feet, he knew he would ultimately make love to her. His blood clamored to be one with her and his passion rose as never before. Then Eugenia stirred, opening eyes filled with challenge and anger. In that moment, MacPherson resolved to take her soon, whether she consented or not, with all the force and fury of a raging Texas Tempest.