Publisher: Avon Books
Publication Date: April 6, 1999
Series or Standalone: Rogues in Texas #1
Links: Amazon – Barnes & Noble – Goodreads – StoryGraph
CW: rape; verbal abuse; gun violence; mention of animal abuse, physicial abuse, war
Oh boy. Where do I even begin with this book? This was an odd read for me as I adore Lorraine Heath and her Westerns, but some things in this book just didn’t work for me. But, I also found myself fully invested in this book and wondering, “How the heck is this going to end?” as Heath took the plot in some interesting places. And let me say – you’re not going to see the ending coming. It was so bonkers and dramatic, and I loved it.
Grayson Rhodes, the illegitimate son of a Duke, along with two of his best friends from the British aristocracy, have left London behind to find their own fortune in Texas. However, the work in Texas isn’t what any of them expected as they’re forced into real work for the first time ever by picking cotton in the fields. When Grayson gets the chance to work Abbie Westland’s land, he’s determined to do all the hard lifting so she doesn’t have to. Abbie, a widower of three kids, works day in and day out to keep the landing running and provide a home for her children. When she meets Grayson, her eyes are opened to feelings and passions she’s never known before. But can their growing love survive the ghost of her past?
The pacing in this book was a bit all over the place. I found the beginning to be slow and the middle to drag, even though things seemed to be happening at breakneck speed in Grayson and Abbie’s relationship. The “I love you” came way sooner than I expected, and I was sitting there wondering where the story would go in the second half as everything was going too well. Around the halfway mark, Heath introduced a plot twist that I saw coming, but man, did it spice things up! The book’s second half flew by as I wanted to see how Heath would write herself out of the corner she backed these characters into. The end was packed with action and emotions, and I gobbled that up.
I have mixed feelings about the characters. First off, is Grayson really a rogue? I didn’t really buy it based on what we saw, as this man works his butt off and is kind and caring toward Abbie and her family. And how he is with the kids! My heart melted during all his interactions with Abbie’s kids. He has a distorted view of himself, that’s for sure. As the illegitimate son of a Duke, he thinks he’s worthless even though his father raised him as his own after his mother died in childbirth. He works hard to prove himself and find a place where he is needed in Texas – he seems to thrive there. He’s also too honorable for his own good at times, putting Abbie and her kids needs before his own.
With Abbie, I struggled with her. She’s a single mom of three very young kids, and I admire her as she works hard to provide for her kids and earn a livelihood. However, we have very different values, particularly regarding how we view marriage, which made me really frustrated with some of her choices. I don’t want to give any spoilers, so I’ll keep it high-level, but I wanted her to have more of a backbone at times. I hated how she viewed the relationship with her husband as okay, even though it was toxic and abusive. She deserved better, and I wanted her to put herself and her feelings first.
The romance in this was a bit hit or miss for me. I think there was some fantastic flirty banter initially, but it also felt like Grayson was carrying the bulk of the relationship on his shoulders. I understand why Abbie is a bit closed off and standoffish (especially when it comes to sex), but I wanted to see a bit more of her feelings toward Grayson. There is an attraction between the two of them, but I wanted more feeling! Also, I was disappointed in how Grayson approached their first kiss and initiated their relationship, considering everything he knew about her relationship with her husband – it felt a little slimy how he acted after everything she recently told him.
However, once the plot twist came in, I was more invested in the romance and couldn’t wait to see how things would be resolved. Lorraine Heath did have me worried for a bit that this wouldn’t have a happily ever after (she had me questioning that a few times in this series) but have no fear, she makes it work.
This wasn’t the strongest start for her Rogues in Texas series, but Lorraine Heath being Lorraine Heath had me invested in the characters. I truly loved some of the secondary characters she introduced, particularly Jessye. Jessye is a trouser-wearing, tavern-owning woman who knows her way around a gun. I loved her as soon as I met her. And her dynamic with Grayson’s friend Harrison was to die for! They’re the couple in book two, Never Love a Cowboy, and I wanted to dive into that book as soon as I finished this one!
A Rogue in Texas isn’t my favorite Lorraine Heath, but I still enjoyed it despite its flaws. Seriously, the bonkers ending sold me on this, and I will always associate that dramatic ending with this story. I think Never Love a Cowboy is my favorite of the series, and I think the Texas Trilogy edges this one out a tad as being more enjoyable, but this book and series are still worth picking up!