REVIEW: The Colonels’ Texas Promise by Caro Carson
A marriage pact, sixteen years in the making.
The vow was simple. If they were single by the time they made lieutenant colonel, they’d marry. On the day of her promotion, Juliet Grayson is at Evan Stephens’s door to ask him to keep his promise. Juliet only needs a father figure for her son, but Evan hopes to be so much more. Can he convince a woman who’s been burned before to get close to the flame once again?
Dear Ms. Carson,
It’s just about a year ago that I read and enjoyed the first book in this series about Army officers at Fort Hood, Texas. What I’ve liked the most is that these are basically ordinary people, just doing their daily jobs with no hints of secret black ops, PTSD or saving the world while falling in love. From lieutenants, to captains, to majors and now with Lt. Colonels we’ve progressed up the chain of command. I’d still love to see full bird Colonel Oscar Reed as a leading man – hint, hint.
Juliet Grayson and Evan Stephens have been good friends since college when both were in ROTC. On their last night before graduation and heading out to their new lives as Army officers, they discussed life, careers, and how each hoped for a family. As the evening ended, they pinkie promised – because it doesn’t count, dude, if you don’t – to marry each other if they were single when they both made lieutenant colonel. At that rank, Juliet would at least have a chance at having children. Sixteen years in the military followed with only a few chances for their paths to cross. But now Juliet is about to cash in on that vow.
After a disastrous marriage to and divorce from a rat bastard, two things are happening. Juliet’s eleven year old son is helping pin her new rank shoulder boards on during her promotion ceremony and it’s being held at her new base – Fort Hood – were Evan Stephens is also (conveniently) stationed. Evan’s boring day perks up when from inside his office he hears his staff rise in unison and knows a senior officer must have entered the room. Well look who just walked through his door?
From a ho-hum afternoon to getting a lifetime’s worth of birthday and Christmas presents all at once, Evan is stunned with his good luck. He might not have been savvy enough sixteen years ago to realize that Juliet was The One, but over the years he’s smartened up and not going to let her get away. It’s obvious that she half expects him to brush off their vow but that is not going to happen. Reining in the initial impulse to hustle down to the courthouse and ‘git ‘er done,” they pause long enough to consider that Matthew needs to be let in on this decision before it’s a done deal. Yeah, I agree with that.
But they’ve got a lot more to work out than an eleven year old who has entered the sulky stage as Evan and Juliet still haven’t actually exchanged views on why they’re willing to dive into marriage after sixteen years apart.
I know you mention that a friend of your husband actually did keep a years long marriage vow but this set up is a hard one to swallow. I guess it’s kind of an “arranged marriage” x ” friends to lovers” theme. And the prologue does set up how well they know each other. When the pair appeared ready to zip right down to the courthouse and tie the knot within an hour of clapping eyes on each other I did try to mentally apply the breaks. Thankfully they did too.
Evan might not be as qualified at parenting as Juliet but he’s got years of experience in handling soldiers. With a little thought and remembrance back to when he was that age, he manages to skirt most of the shoals of preteen hurt feelings, insecurity and anxiety. Meanwhile Juliet has to run the gauntlet of trying not to say what she really thinks of her ex-husband as Matthew still adores his (worthless) father.
Two conflicts are set to simmering on the back burner for a while before being brought to a boil. I was glad that they were both used in ways that strengthened Juliet and Evan’s bond without either of the conflicts turning into the dreaded Big Misunderstanding. Instead, our hero and heroine actually (glory be) talk to each other and knit their relationship tighter.
Despite the fact that they marry after only a week back together, I get good vibes about their long term prospects even without the epilogue. The (gossipy) brigade commander meeting is a hoot (I guess Thane from book one has been transferred by this point so we miss out on seeing him again). Colonel Reed is right – he is surrounded by “a bunch of sappy romantics.” B