Jove, Nov 2002, 6.99, 336 pp.
In 1883, the Roland Wagon train tosses out ailing Sarah Andrews whose husband and daughter just died and for helping the ailing woman Bailee Moore and teenage Lacy Dillavou. Bailee takes charge leading the other two women south to Texas. Within a day of Cedar Point, vicious killer Zeb Whittaker tries to take their wagon and Lacy. The women turn the tables and think they killed Zeb. They reach Cedar Point and turn themselves into Sheriff Harmon Riley as murderers.
Harmon knows no Texas jury would convict these women especially here when there is a shortage of females. He decides the best course of action is to host a “wife lottery”. Surprising entrant Carter McKoy, who rarely speaks after a childhood trauma, wins the hand of Bailee. As they become acquainted they begin to fall in love especially when he risks his life to save hers and when she sees how tenderly he communicates with a frightened lonely little girl, but Zeb lives and wants vengeance on the three women.
This is an exciting western romance filled with engaging characters especially a deaf five year old girl who watched her mother and others die in a deliberate train wreck. The lead couple is a delight as both, but particularly Carter, must overcome their respective demons in order to become a couple for life. Though the villainy of Zeb seems at times to overwhelm a wonderful love story fans will know they won THE TEXAN'S WAGER by reading Jodi Thomas' deep historical novel.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner