We’re posting a pair of Dueling Reviews where our reviewers have two very different opinions on Texas Star by Deana James. Here is Blue Falcon’s take.
Imprint or Line: Zebra Lovegram
Book Series: Texas-Angel #3
Published by: Kensington
Genres: Historical Romance, Bodice Ripper, Forced Seduction, Western Romance, Romance with Rape Element
Buy on: Amazon, AbeBooks
Reviewed by: Blue Falcon
TOTAL SPOILER ALERT ⚠
This review is of Texas Star, a Zebra Lovegram western historical romance and book #3 in the “Texas” series by Deana James.
The book doesn’t begin in Texas but in Mexico, where Estrella Luisa Garner y Montejo, hereafter known as Star Garner, the book’s heroine, lives with her brother, Tomas, and his wife, Clara.
Riding onto their property is a man calling himself “Christopher Stewart,” who claims he wants to breed his horse to Tomas’ horses. They don’t realize Christopher has ulterior motives.
It isn’t until he spirits Star away that he reveals the truth: his name is Christopher Stewart Gillard. He is a bounty hunter hired to bring Star back to Texas to die for the killing of her husband, Luke Garner.
Christopher was employed by Matthew Garner, Luke’s father, to bring Star back after Luke was shot and killed, ostensibly by Star. Star was tried and convicted by a jury, but Tomas rescued her before she was hung.
The real story is far more complicated than that.
As Chris transports Star from Mexico to Texas, they become lovers.
However, he also hits her, and she is later raped by an attacker, whom she kills. Chris takes Star to his ranch, where she meets his son, Duff, 5.
Duff’s mother, Christine, passed away, giving birth to him. While there, Star hopes if she satisfies Chris sexually, he won’t turn her in.
Chris’s response: bringing Star to Crossways, Texas, to be hanged. Matthew, however, doesn’t actually plan to kill Star. He has other plans in mind for her.
Upon discovering he was wrong about Star, Chris regrets bringing her back to Matthew and tries to rescue her.
Maudie then hires him as her bodyguard, among other things. Chris leaves, then he tries to spirit Star off Garner’s ranch. The rescue attempt is only partially successful, as Matthew catches up to them and shoots Chris, severely wounding him.
Despite being wounded, Chris makes his way to Garner’s ranch, where Maudie holds Duff hostage. She shoots Matthew and tries to force Chris to marry and impregnate her.
He is saved by Star, who shoots and kills Maudie after the truth of what happened to Luke is revealed.
In the end, Star and Chris realize they love each other, marry, and have their Happily Ever After.
I suppose I can give Star credit for surviving her abusive relationship with Luke.
Having said that, she then engages in another abusive relationship with Chris, who, like Luke, emotionally, mentally, physically, and sexually abuses her.
There are two romance novel tropes I absolutely hate.
1. Stockholm Syndrome romance
2. Revenge/proxy romances, where the hero punishes the innocent heroine for something someone she either knows or doesn’t know did to the hero.
Texas Star is in the former category.
None of the primary characters are likable.
There are also multiple creepy elements, such as the fact that Maudie and Matthew-who were twins–were engaged in an incestuous relationship.
Steam Level: The sex scenes between Star and Chris range from coercive to not exciting. Lukewarm at best.
Assault, battery, shootings, sodomy, and killings. The violence is not graphic.
Bottom Line on Texas Star
Star may forgive Chris for his perfidy. I don’t. This western romance by Deana James, Texas Star, is not the worst book I’ve ever read–that “honor” still belongs to Cassie Edwards’ putrid novel Eugenia’s Embrace.
But it is in the top 10 worst books I’ve ever read.
|Rating Report Card|
(Cover points don’t count!)
IN THE SUN’S BLAZE…
Ebon-haired Star Garner was a wanted woman–and Chris Gillard was determined to collect the generous bounty for bringing her in. He caught the lovely fugitive… but then she trapped him–bewitching him with her luscious figure and innocent onyx eyes. Instead of returning her straightaway to the law, the hot-blooded cowboy took her to his ranch. There he tried to have his fill of her, at high noon and at darkest night, but once he tasted her magnolia-petal flesh, it was impossible to sate his unquenchable desire.
BY THE MOON’S GLOW…
Desperate to be free again, Star made love to her captor as if her life depended on it. The beautiful outlaw sacrificed her very soul to please him… until, to her horror, she discovered she craved and needed his raw, masculine force. Still, she knew Chris had his price and he’d turn her in with no regrets. But what she never counted on was his obsession with her–and how he’d pursue the sleek beauty to the ends of the earth to forever to possess his fiery TEXAS STAR.Texas Star by Deana James