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Lyn Cote

REVIEW: Her Abundant Joy by Lyn Cote

REVIEW: Her Abundant Joy by Lyn Cote

Dear Ms Cote,

I read and enjoyed “Her Inheritance Forever,” the second book in this “Texas Star of Destiny” series last autumn. I remember liking the fact that you showed a slightly different view of Texas history than I’d read before and also that the heroine was Mexican. This time around the German settlers in Texas provide the heroine and the Quinn family again takes part in the battles that determined the state’s history.

Her Abundant Joy by Lyn CoteTexas Ranger Carson Quinn finds a group of newly arrived German immigrants when he and his friend Tunney arrive in Galveston, Texas. It’s obvious to the Rangers that they don’t have a clue how to go about getting to the land which has been bought for them to settle. Taking his oath to help the people of Texas, whether old hands or new arrivals, seriously, Carson decides to help them get there since he’s headed in that direction to join his family.

During the journey, he can’t help but notice beautiful Mariel who often acts as an interpreter for the group but whose situation is tenuous. Her employer is abusive and the other immigrants seem only to willing to believe his lies about her character rather than believe this young woman who’s alone in the world.

After meeting up with the Quinns and reaching New Braunfels, Mariel’s position becomes impossible when she’s faced with a marriage of convenience to save her reputation or becoming an outcast among the Germans. When Dorritt Quinn offers her a place at their ranch, Mariel jumps at the chance especially as she and Carson have begun to grow closer over the journey. But when the Rangers are called to aid the US Army sent to fight the Mexicans who object to the Republic joining the United States, will Carson survive the second set of battles he fights for Texas?

Even though this is book three of the series, readers don’t need to have read either book one or two. It starts in media res but the stage is soon set, the players are introduced and the action begins. I like that the returning characters stay the same. Well, the same but 10 years later. It doesn’t look as if anyone’s had a personality change just because the plot demands it.

Again I enjoyed a different presentation of Texas history as I can’t say I’ve read any historicals about German settlement in Texas. This part is okay and good for showing the kind of caring and leading man Carson is and how his family react to Mariel and the injustice done her by gossiping settlers. It seems true to probable historical realities – she’s a servant and a woman so the word of others would be taken over her. I had hoped to see more of the German settlement, how they began their lives over and their dealings with Comanche but…not to be.

The Quinns are fine, upstanding people, salt of the earth, always understanding and never wrong. There’s never a harsh word, they never letting anger rule them, they’re class and color blind, and practically perfect in every way. Unfortunately it makes this rather bland to read and hard to believe. Carson’s view that good men have to be the law and make the law out on the frontier seems more likely. His slow realization that he’s tired of killing, tired of war and being a man of war, even if that is what’s needed, seems more realistic.

The battle scenes are somewhat confusing and truncated. I’m still not sure what really happened but then a detailed description of the war isn’t what book is for – it’s more to show how it impacts this group of people and I guess they would only see their small part of it as the gunsmoke drifts and the cannons boom in the distance. Given the number of people to care about who were on or near the battlefield, it would be foolish to think someone wouldn’t die but I was sorry to lose the one to go.

Mariel changes a great deal over the course of the story. She starts as a cowed woman and servant but slowly becomes a stronger woman, a woman of Texas. But as with most of the Quinn family, she’s almost too perfect. And honestly, the separation at the end felt tacked on and for what? I knew it couldn’t go anywhere or be drawn out in the short amount of time left so … why bother?

Carson is a man you don’t mess with but one who is also decent and fair. I enjoyed his conversations with his cousin-in-law, who is also an interesting character. Niven got what he wanted in his wife but might discover she’s not what he wants after all. And though the characters are inspired by their faith but this isn’t something turned preachy or rammed down a reader’s throat.

My question at the end of this book is will there be a fourth entry in the series? Perhaps one with Erin facing the troubles Dorritt feels are looming on the horizon? Though this book didn’t work quite as well for me as “Inheritance” did, I’m still glad I read it and got to learn a little more about Texas history.

~Jayne

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Dear Author

REVIEW: Her Inheritance Forever by Lyn Cote

Dear Ms. Cote,

After enjoying your novel “Her Captain’s Heart,” I was psyched when your publicist sent me an advanced copy of “Her Inheritance Forever.” And even more excited when I realized that it would tell part of the story of Texas independence that isn’t usually seen in romance novels – what happened after the Alamo.

The story jumps straight into the action with Alandra Sandoval being rescued by her guardian Quinn and one of his ranch hands, Scully Falconer. Someone has paid renegade Comanches to kidnap her not knowing that Quinn would never rest until she was recovered. Alandra lived with Quinn and his wife for years after her elder brother died but now that she’s old enough to run her own vast rancho, it seems that there’s someone who wants to wrest it from her.

Alandra Sandoval is the child of parents who were forced by her grandfather to flee from Mexico City. Their son’s marriage to a mestizo was a disgrace the proud creole family would not endure. But before the married couple left, Alandra’s father was forced to sign a will giving the rancho back to his family should he die without a male heir. And after Alandra’s return, she’s suddenly confronted by greedy relatives waving the will in her face.

When it looks like Alandra’s cousin is willing to force a marriage to ensure that, despite these troubled times when it’s unsure whether Mexican or Tejano law will prevail in Texas, the family will get the land, Alandra, Scully and the reinforcements sent from Quinn devise a plan. Alandra and Scully will marry in name only thus gaining Alandra a man, who would be more respected in a court of law, to hold her property.

Scully is appalled but finally talked into it. He’s always admired Alandra but she’s a lady and he’s just a hired hand. However, times being what they are, Alandra can use all the backup she can get especially when banditos grab her after Scully and Quinn head off to discover what’s happened now that the Alamo has fallen.

Will they find her in time? Will the Angloamericanos win the battle for Texas independence? And how will Scully and Alandra work out what was only supposed to be a marriage of convenience?

In your author’s note, you state that you took some artistic license in two small events in Texas history. Frankly, and with apologies to all Texans, I don’t know enough about the subject to have even noticed but it’s nice that you included the information to soothe those who do.

And yeah rah for using the events that occurred between the fall of the Alamo and the Battle of San Jacinto as the backdrop for a lot of the action. Even in the unfortunately rare number of books set in this era, the Alamo is generally the main event of the story. I always knew that wasn’t all there was about Texan independence and am glad to finally see it.

The book seems to be an homage to an older style of writing. Vast scope, lots of events, hero and heroine separated for a time only to finally realize their love against the backdrop of important historic events. But the plot is still focused enough in time frame to keep my attention. I can tell that Quinn and his wife were the subjects of your first book in this series but they serve the interests of this book and I didn’t feel afloat with references to the first book. Thank you.

Alandra is a product of her culture, time and upbringing. She is a grand lady but also takes her responsibilities as a landowner and employer seriously. When she speaks of “her people,” it doesn’t sound like an empty statement. She will take care of those dependent upon her and knows how to run a rancho. She knows there is a gulf between her social status and Scully’s but she never looks down on him. She might not be happy when he’s set to be an additional watchdog for her well-being by Quinn, but she never takes her frustration out on him with flouncing. Oh, what a relief.

Scully is an honest, hardworking man. His reputation precedes him in the area and he’s respected by everyone. His reluctance to marry Alandra isn’t because he sees her as a spoilt heiress but rather because he thinks of himself as a simple man. It’s while he’s helping to fight against the dictatorship of a man like Santa Ana, that he comes to feel he’s more of a match for his wife. She’s been surrounded by people trying to hurt her and Scully sees that he can help her and defend her. That he can be a good husband for her.

You don’t shy away from the less pretty aspects of history or of the events your characters have been through. Slavery was a part of Texas then despite what a lot of people thought of it. Alandra feels the residual effects of being kidnapped and held in terror. Scully has nightmares of what he saw at Goliad and of his own past. None of these are neatly swept under the rug as being resolved too easily.

I do have a few nitpicks. Alandra’s Mexican relatives are not much more than stock villains. This made the middle section of the book sag somewhat. Also, how many times was Alandra going to be kidnapped and rescued “just in the nick of time?”

The characters’ faith is not something they wave in everyone’s face. It’s deeply personal for them and the events she sees along with the hurt suffered by those she cares for become a test for Alandra. I never felt I was being preached at, merely that I was witnessing a person come to terms with their own beliefs in the face of evil in the world.

Thanks again for exploring something different in American history. Not only the historical events but also showing a bit of the Tejano culture and the mix that has gone into make up of the state. B

~Jayne

This book can be purchased in trade paperback at Amazon. I found it in ereader (barnes and noble) and kindle formats.