This is the first in a series of four books, and I think this is a good example of decent western romances (which I promised after the Scoundrel’s Captive debacle), and an author making the effort (and succeeding!) at not writing the same book over and over and over again (Dan Brown: take notes) (I do rag on Dan Brown a lot, don’t I?) (HE DESERVES IT).
So this series is about the Jarrett siblings- Texans all (why is it always Texas?) and great lays- except for the oldest brother. Because he is the parental figure that raised the rest of ‘em and as we all know, parents do not have great sex.
Anyway, I read the first one back in my misspent youth, Silver Surrender, and always had this niggling feeling that there were clearly MORE, so when I started this venture, I found the rest of them. And they are my very favoritist type of bubblegum reads. Crazy, but not too crazy, likable characters, high adventure, hot sex, FANTASTIC CLOTHES.
(I’m such a sucker for pretty clothes, you guys. You have no idea.)
Silver Surrender is about Carson Jarrett and Aurelia Mazon. He’s a Texas Ranger, she’s the only daughter of a silver tycoon dude in Mexico. Carson is coming into town for Aurelia’s brother’s wedding (they are buddies from way back) and has also been asked to look into the theft of silver from the family mine. In the way of things, Carson gets himself arrested for the thefts, because he’s a white dude in a Mexican town OBVIOUSLY he’s a criminal (omg reverse racial profiling!)
Aurelia decides that this will not do. She knows he’s innocent. How does she know for an absolute, irrefutable fact that this crazy ass gringo did not rob the trains?
No, really, guess.
If you said she knows he did not because SHE was robbing the trains herself, you would be SPOT ON. See, she’s robbing the trains (technically she’s actually burglarizing them since there isn’t any force or threat or force while she’s taking the silver, so….) (sorry) because she’s SO BORED and wants to go live with her aunt in Town, and if the trains keep getting robbed, then her father will send her there for her safety.
Carson gets picked up for the crimes, and Aurelia decides there’s nothing for it except she’s gonna have to jailbreak him out. So she does, and nearly gets raped by the mine supervisor in the process. She and Carson go on a cross-country adventure (with no snakes, I’m happy to say. Actually, rattlesnakes to not feature in ANY of these books, which bumps them up half a grade in my estimation) to get to the Mazon family ranch, where her brother (and Carson’s BFF) is. Aurelia doesn’t know that Carson is her brother’s BFF, and Carson doesn’t know that she is his BFF’s baby sister. (Her brother, Santos, calls her “Relie” so Carson didn’t put together that Aurelia was of the same age and general disposition as Relie. Here’s another tidbit about me- in the SCA, my name is also Aurelia (not because of this book) and there were a subset of people who did call me Relie. And I hated it, because it was SO paternalistic and in my mind, it precluded them from recognizing me as an adult, rather than the dumb-as-rocks 19 year old they met me as.)
So they traipse across the wilderness, and Aurelia is sure she’s been raped (she totes felt peen against her leg, so that must have been it). She decides that the best way to heal from that is to seduce Carson and “Get back on the horse” as it were. So she does, and when he discovers she’s still a virgin – or was, until he rammed his way home – he’s like “…wait, I thought you were…” and she’s like “I was.” And he’s he’s all, “No….I’m the first!” (with a “tender smile” and it’s a little weird but that’s the early 90s for you).
So the bulk of the action is Aurelia and Carson working out their relationship, with disapproving big brother and disapproving parents- there’s a whole “I must leave so as not to fuck up your life!” thing on his part, and her rejoinder is, “If you leave you will fuck up my life, so there.” He’s gets a little emo about how he can’t give her the privileged life she’s used to, and she points out that she kind of hates her life, but loves him and sexing, so they really just need to get married to head off to Texas.
Now, one of the things that Vaughan does is there’s always a mystery as the B plot. And in this case, the B plot is the fact that even before Aurelia started robbing the trains, there was silver disappearing between the mine and the mint. The fact that Aurelia started robbing the trains to begin with got the real robbers nervous and made security at the mine tighter, so there was a whole thing about finding the real robbers.
It wraps up though, with Aurelia taking a level in badass and she and Carson get married- he’s not Catholic, so there’s a whole parental disapproval thing, and technically, in the eyes of the Church Aurelia is living in sin, but they traipse off to Texas and live happily ever after.
Now, early on, when introducing Carson, the book mentions that he got a letter from his oldest brother’s wife, Ellie, saying that Benjamin had disappeared, could he please come help? Since Carson was already engaged in dealing with silver thieves, he dispatches the baby brother, Kale, to go help Ellie. I always thought that seemed like a sequel hook, but never actually searched for any of the other books.
I did, and have them all, and I think that my favorite (after Silver Surrender) is Carson’s sister Delta’s story, Sunrise Surrender. The others are Sweet Autumn Surrender and Secret Surrender. Sweet Autumn Surrender is the story that’s set in motion when Carson sends his brother Kale to find out what’s happened to their eldest brother (and of course he meets the widow and hijinks ensue). Secret Surrender involves a twin switch, which is a story line I’ve gotten tired of ever since Sweet Valley High did it five or six (thousand) times.
I do think that while more recent romances tend to be better written, and have much more sympathetic heroes, the story lines often aren’t nearly as exciting as some of the old school. I know it’s ridiculous to think of a girl robbing her family’s silver trains out of boredom, but I don’t really care! It’s fun, and I miss that. It’s awesome.