SPOILER ALERT ⚠
Reviewed by Blue Falcon
This review is of Texas Conquest by Caroline Bourne. This historical romance is a Zebra Lovegram, published in 1988.
The book starts in London, England, in 1810. Elsa Palmer is searching for her sister, Claretta, who became a prostitute after the death of her husband. He was a man their father didn’t approve of. Elsa convinces Claretta to travel to America with her and Elsa’s husband, William.
Fast forward 22 years. In Texas, on the Brazos River lives Mariah Palmer, 22, Elsa and William’s daughter and the heroine of the book. Mariah lives with Elsa (William has now passed away) and a younger brother, Jessie, who is away but coming home.
Mariah is a steadfast supporter of Texas independence from Mexico, which will place her squarely at odds with her new neighbor, Matthew Cade, the book’s hero. Even though he is an American, Matthew is the right-hand man for General Antonio Lopez y Santa Anna. Santa Anna has ordered Matthew to buy the home of Mariah’s neighbor, Francisco Gomez. He also ordered him to buy the Palmer land and push them out. Naturally, Mariah plans to put a stop to that.
Santa Anna has other plans for Mariah as well. He orders her brought to Mexico to become his latest mistress. Matthew escorts her to Mexico, and on the trip, they become lovers.
Mariah and Matthew return to Texas and soon travel to New York, where Elsa is having surgery (Elsa is blind from an illness she contracted years ago). While in New York, Mariah attends a party at West Point and is shocked to see Matthew there with another woman. They argue, and Matthew rapes Mariah. Further tragedy follows when Elsa passes away.
Despite these tragedies, Mariah and Matthew marry. She later finds out she is pregnant and discovers family secrets that Elsa kept before her passing. Happiness and tragedy follow as Mariah and Matthew become parents to a daughter, Laureli (pronounced Lorelei). However, another death occurs as Jessie is killed at the Alamo. Or so they think, as Jessie returns alive.
By the end of the book, all secrets are revealed, Mariah and Matthew have their Happily Ever After, and 5-year-old Laureli sings of future love. Will she find it? You’ll have to read the sequel to Texas Conquest, Texas Fire to find out.
Ms. Bourne is clearly a soap opera fan as she has about ten storylines going in this book, and she does a decent job keeping them going.
That, however, is also one of the issues I have with Texas Conquest. Most of the storylines appear to be filler to reach a page count (the book is 508 pages), and most of the storylines are unfinished and abandoned.
Mariah and Matthew make for an okay hero and heroine. Mariah is supposed to be a fiery personality, but that is rarely shown. Once Matthew rapes Mariah, he is dead to me. No matter how much Ms. Bourne tries to rehabilitate him–and she does–there is no redemption for a rapist hero. Ms. Bourne never made me care about Mariah, Matthew, or any other character in the book.
Mariah and Matthew have several love scenes. The scenes are neither graphic, exciting nor erotic.
There is violence at the Alamo, and Santa Anna threatens to whip Mariah after discovering that she and Matthew are lovers. Most of the violence is “off-screen.”
Texas Conquest is a frustrating book because there are good elements, but Ms. Bourne doesn’t put them together. Hopefully, she can address these issues in future books.
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