TBR Challenge 2013: The Wild West

daughteroftx For this month’s TBR Challenge, we’re reading Westerns – contemporary or historical. Most of the Westerns in my TBR are historical, but I was in the mood for a little mystery, so I decided the Texas Ranger tie-in of Terri Reed’s 2011 Daughter of Texas would work. This novel is 1st in the multi-author Texas Ranger Justice series from Love Inspired Suspense. LIS seems to do one of these series each year, and I’ll admit that they often suck me in. Each book has its own self-contained romance and mystery, but there is also an overarching suspense plot that winds through all 6 books of the series and doesn’t get solved until the end. When it’s done well, it can be addictive. In this case, I’d say Daughter of Texas starts things off fairly well. I have a few quibbles with the romance and the heroine sometimes drove me a little nuts, but this was still a pleasant enough read, and I’d give it a C+.

Readers get thrown into the action right away as the book opens. A much-loved and respected Texas Ranger Captain has been murdered in his home and his daughter, Corinna Pike, got injured as she walked in on the killer. A few moments later, the Rangers converge on the home. Apparently, one of the last clues left behind by Captain Pike before his death was a text sent to those in his command, ordering them to come meet at the home because a major case was about to explode. Based on that, it would seem that the Rangers have a good lead – except that no one knows what case Captain Pike was talking about.

Ranger Ben Fritz takes a special interest in the case, as he not only respected his Captain, but had become close to him on a personal level. Ben has no family of his own and Captain Pike had taken him in as both protegee and the son he never had. The descriptions of their relationship sounded touching and believable, as did the tension that this deep regard caused with Captain Pike’s daughter Corinna. Now that Captain Pike is gone, Ben appoints himself Corinna’s protector. When it becomes obvious that someone is still on the hunt for Corinna, he arranges for her to stay with a female Ranger.

The suspense plotting in this book grabbed my attention from the first page and kept me going throughout the book. Even knowing that the identity of Captain Pike’s killer likely will not come out until the final book of the series, I still tried to guess at clues and put together some picture of what might have happened. Likewise, the hunt for Corinna’s pursuer contains plenty of action and reads smoothly. Even though modern-day San Antonio isn’t exactly the Old West, I enjoyed watching the Rangers pursue a killer and try to build a case. Given how long a real police investigation can take, it’s refreshing in a way to see one stretched over several volumes like this.

What wasn’t refreshing was watching Corinna get feisty. Her anguish over Captain Pike’s death makes perfect sense and I could certainly understand her desire to rebel against the precautions she has to follow as a result of being stalked by a possible killer. However, Corinna grew up around police work and I expected her to have more of an appreciation of the danger around her. Instead, she thinks nothing of trying to do some investigating on her own or of sneaking away from those who are trying to protect her from harm. These tricks not surprisingly cause problems and make her seem a bit TSTL at times. Since Corinna is a professional dancer, I appreciated that the author didn’t fetishize her slender appearance or make her seem like a childlike doll, but I could have used a little more attention to the knowledgeable cop’s daughter side of her background as well.

In the end, the romance that develops between Ben and Corinna is a sweet one but it did feel a little rushed as it was wedged in there with the suspense plot. The tension between Corinna and Ben existed long before Corinna lost her father, and the author does do a good job of exploring the dynamic between them. I just wished that the love story had a little more emotional development rather than resolving so suddenly. It seemed to go from “We’ll never get along” to “I want to be with you forever” awfully quickly.

The mystery surrounding Captain Pike’s death grabbed my imagination and I still want to know who the killer is, so I would be up for reading more of the Texas Ranger Justice books. I just hope that the romances in them are stronger than this one.