Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Texas Ranger Dad

Debra Clopton
Inspirational Romance
Steeple Hill Books - 2009

When is the romance novel community of writers and publishers—not to mention editors—going to offer us intriguing titles? I’m tired of Cute-Location Brides, Something-or-Other Christmas, Beloved Anything, Any Kind of Viking, and Fill-in-the Blank Promises. One more Texas Anything, and I’m going to throw up (that’s not true, I’m drawn to Texas anything). And look at those covers. They say you can tell a book by its cover. Amen to that. Whatever happened to ugly people. How about a romance entitled The Overweight Bride with Buck Teeth? (She found romance while being drilled by a Texas Dentist).

Oh, the cliché of it.

And so, here we are, squaring off against Texas Ranger Dad. Change the character names, setting, and the number of kids and I’ve read this one at least three other times with a bunch of variations on common sub themes.

And would you believe a town named Mule Hollow? Debra Clopton has made Mule Hollow a real place.

Do you think it’s small and quaint?

All that said (and predictably), Texas Ranger Dad is a contemporary romance that will quench any reader’s needs for believable characterization, a workman-like plot, and a satisfying outcome. (Some romance novel clichés do serve us well. Who wants to spend too much time in this modern fill-in-the-blank world?) And, as with pretty much all of the “Love Inspired” books, the inspiration flows as an integral part of the plot, not as a sharp-edged pause for effect.

The characters in this book have their own problems. Rose Vincent lied to her son, Max, about his father. She never dreamed that he would show up in the same town they had escaped to. How was she going to tell Max? Zane Cantrell, Maxes father, came to Mule Hollow looking for Rose. He felt he had not treated her right when he disappeared when she was in the witness protection program. They had gotten too close and he thought he might be placing her in danger. He had no idea she was pregnant. Rose was bitter over the whole situation.

Max longed for a father. Zane was glad to meet his son and that turned out well. For Rose, it took a lot longer to give up her bitterness and to give Zane a chance. Rose needed to forgive Zane, but she really didn’t want to. He was patient.

Debra Clopton is a multi-awarded writer and after reading several of her books, I know why. She knows her craft and her characters are believable and enjoyable. This is a Love Inspired Inspirational Romance and it’s not preachy but real. This is a writer that out of the 2500+ romances I’ve read stands out as one of the best.


Debra Clopton said...

Hi Dr. Grace--Thank you for this review of my book Texas Ranger Dad. I enjoyed your outlook on romance as a whole and so pleased that you got what I do. My goal when I write a romance is to give the reader an escape from the hectic pace of their lives and the stress that may be upon them. Mule Hollow is hopefully a fun place to escape but still be real enough to matter. Good entertainment is what I'm aiming for. Thank you again--Debra Clopton

Victoria Bylin said...

Hi Dr. Grace,
I had to smile at your comment on titles. When I was working on my second book, a western for Harlequin Historicals, I was brainstorming titles in the kitchen, doing free association in an effort to come up with something fresh. I saw broccoli on the counter .. . aha! "The Broccoli Bride!" I didn't send it, but I got a laugh out of it. Fortunately the title ended up being "West of Heaven," which I liked quite a bit.

I hear you on the repetition of keywords. Marketing tells us those words sell books, that they describe the story succinctly, but it's a real struggle to come up with something fresh.

I enjoy your blog : ) Many thanks for your kind words about LIH.