Stuck Together (Trouble in Texas Bk.3) by Mary Connealy
Although this book is the third one of a series, it reads independently very well. By the time I finished Stuck Together, I knew enough about the back story of the supporting characters to realize I wanted to read their stories too. This author is new to me, but I enjoy her writing style enough that I look forward to finding the first two books in this series to catch up.
The reader opens up chapter one and jumps in with both feet into a hilarious account of a skirmish outside the town’s saloon. The account may just make you reminisce about a Laurel and Hardy comedy routine. And to think it was all started by the diminutive Tina as she picketed outside the bar in protest of the liquor sold there.
From that point on, the pace does not slacken as we read about the little town of Broken Wheel, Texas. Just a few years after the Civil War, four men who had fought together and suffered together as prisoners of war settled in the dusty desert town located deep in Indian Territory where they didn’t belong. But they were tolerated by the local Kiowa tribe. Their adventures and efforts to settle the area encompasses the scope of The Trouble in Texas series.
Vince Yates, known among his buddies as Invincible Vince during the war, was the town’s lawyer and sheriff. Ever since his friend Jonas’ sister arrived to stay, he had been fighting his attraction to her. He was hesitant to marry because of his family background. He believed he had the potential for the cruel rage he experienced from his father’s hand as a young boy. Even worse, there was the possibility of inheriting a trait from his mother’s side of the family: dementia. That would make him a burden to a family, and he was dead set against doing that to anyone.
Tina Cahill may be tiny in stature, but is definitely mighty in spirit. She had been raised by her maiden aunt after her parents’ death. The aunt was not thrilled but she performed her duty readily though not lovingly. Tina did not know what it was like to be loved. But she was feisty and determined to do what she considered her mission in life, hence the protests outside the saloon doors. There in the tiny town, she discovered the love of family through acceptance of Jonas’ friends. She was especially drawn to the sheriff. When circumstances kept throwing Vince and Tina together, both silently fought their demons to keep an emotional distance. But it seemed God had other plans for them.
I thoroughly enjoyed the humorous undertones all throughout the book. The author used it to bring balance to some of the serious issues Vince and Tina had to deal with. One moment we are laughing over some witty conversation, while the next Vince is feeling the pain of a mother who had forgotten who he was.
Besides the humor, there are other things I liked about this story. First, I enjoy a good historical fiction that’s set in the old west. It affords the reader a good adventure tale, with plenty of action, conflict and resolution. The author uses these conflicts to demonstrate character traits that the reader can appreciate, such as courage, initiative, intelligence, problem solving, kindness, and determination. And the circumstances also serve to improve a person’s inner character as they work their way through their problems. This is true in Vince’s case, since he needed to resolve within himself just who he was in God’s eyes.
In addition to adventure and action, this is a good clean romance without the foul language we sometimes see in romances today. The men are rugged but decent. The women are hard working individuals who are not shy about pitching in, yet refined enough to be feminine. The few children in the story were not holy terrors. As unrealistic as some may think this is, it is written well and feels just right. I highly recommend this book.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from Bethany House Publisher’s review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”