Saturday, December 13, 2014

Joan Johnston -- The Texan

Joan Johnston -- The Texan

Rated: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ . ♥   {4.85}
Action: ♠♠♠♠ / Emotion: ♣♣♣♣♣ / Romance: ♥♥♥♥♥ / Sensuous: ♦♦.♦ / Suspense: ♠♠♠
Action: 4.0 / Emotion: 5.0 / Romance: 5.0 / Sensuous: 2.5 / Suspense: 3.0  //  Laughter: 1 // Tears: 3 / Teary: 2

Setting:       Bitter Creek, Texas / Big Bend National Park, Texas
Era:             Present Day (2001)
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Joan Johnston is a favorite author because of her talent at weaving a fascinating tale that draws the reader into the lives of the characters who are walking through the pages of her books.   Even though The Texan is only the second book of The Bitter Creek Series, Johnston has managed to make the complex characters she is developing in the background as she tells readers about the current hero and heroine to such a degree that they stay with you, making it almost impossible not to pick up the next book in the series to find out where Johnston is taking these feuding families.

The Texan is a well-written story that provides hours of entertainment as Johnston weaves an intriguing tale of romance that develops between Owen Blackthorne, another son of the almighty Blackthornes, and Bayleigh "Bay" Creed, the daughter of the struggling Creeds.   And while Owen and Bay are walking through the pages of their book, Johnston continues to develop the personalities of the secondary characters who were introduced in the first book of the series, The Cowboy.   Johnston has used her gift of storytelling to ensure that readers are going to want to continue reading each book of The Bitter Creek Series to see what is going to happen next.

If there is one drawback with the way Johnston is spending so much time developing her secondary charters, it is that it took time away from regaling readers with Owen's and Bay's childhood and backstories.   Owen and Bay were so spellbinding when they were briefly introduced in The Cowboy that it was difficult to not to pick up The Texan as soon as the last sentence was read.   One could not help but want to know how Owen became such a strong, driven man after growing up with a mother who obviously didn't care for him and having to deal with the mental anguish of paralyzing a team mate on the football practice field.   And then there was Bayleigh, the apparently strong-willed woman who was not afraid to stand up for the rights of her family.   Bay was a member of the bitter, beleaguered Creed family, yet not -- because she had been away, studying to be a veterinarian at Texas A&M University.

The feud between the Blackthornes and the Creeds continues to take center stage as the second story in this saga takes place eighteen months after Trace and Callie left for their cattle station in Australia at the end of The Cowboy.   The book opens with Texas Ranger, Owen Blackthorne, having to deal with the vituperative attitude of eighteen-year-old Luke Creed, who is at the Armadillo Bar trying to purchase a drink and accuse Owen's twin brother, Major Clay Blackthorne, the commanding officer of Bravo Company, 186th Combat Engineer Battalion of the Bitter Creek National Guard with the theft of the missing VX nerve gas mines that Bravo Company had been transporting.

One loose thread that continued to turn up periodically throughout this story was how certain characters became members of the Bitter Creek National Guard.   For instance, how was it that Clay Blackthorne, the youngest ever attorney general of the state of Texas, a man who had no time for his identical twin, came to be the leader of Bitter Creek's National Guard.   Especially since Clay didn't even live in Bitter Creek anymore.   And how did young Luke, with a humongous chip on his shoulder for all things Blackthorne, come to be a Private under the command of a hated Blackthorne?   It was easy to imagine that these two men (although Luke is not yet mature enough to be categorized as such), who were tied to their lands for generations, joined the Bitter Creed National Guard to serve as had the men in their families before them.   But the one member of Bravo Company that was hard to swallow without some kind of explanation, was 'Bad' Billy Coburn.   It would have been nice if Johnston had somehow explained how it came to be that these characters served with the national guard instead of just plopping them all into Bravo Company for the sake of the story.

Since Owen came across as an angst-filled alpha hero type when introduced in The Cowboy, it was endearing to see that he was not only a gorgeous hunk of alpha male, but that a compassionate heart beat underneath his muscled chest.   It was easy to fall in love with the hero of this book, especially when Owen tried to cut Luke some slack because he understood his anguish.
He knew what it was like to rage against circumstances over which you had no control.   He knew what it was like to hurt inside because someone you cared for was gone forever.   (Owen, page 2)
Johnston does a great job of introducing sparks of romance between Owen and Bay when she shows up at the Armadillo Bar to try and keep her brother from getting into more trouble because of the chip on his shoulder.   The sparks and romantic interest are obvious between Owen and Bay as Bay marches up to Owen, a man head and shoulders taller than her, and pokes him in the chest and declares:
"Why don't you pick on someone you own size."   (Bay, page 7)
That spark of interest between Owen and Bay permeated the entire story as Bay blackmailed Owen with guilt and false leads to force him to take her along with him when he went to Big Bend National Park to search for the villains who stole the extremely deadly VX virus.   Because Bay kept bringing up events that occurred to the Creed family in The Cowboy, it is recommended that one read that book before reading The Texan to understand why her accusations carried such weight.   Reading The Cowboy would also help to understand how immersed in hatred the Creeds were for the Blackthornes.   Jesse Creed, Bay and Luke's father, was extremely vocal in his adamant avowal to his children that all Blackthornes were to be hated and not trusted.
Bay felt the same unwelcome reaction looking at Owen Blackthorne that she had felt last night.   A fluttering in her stomach.   An erratic heartbeat.   And a hot flash of awareness . . .   (Bay, page 30)

He couldn't understand how she was having this effect on him now, when their situation was so fraught with danger.   (Owen, page 143)
Bay insisted on traveling with Owen to Big Bend National Park because Luke, in his youthful zeal to bring one of the mighty Blacktorne's to justice, had disappeared in Big Bend and Bay wanted to make sure that Owen didn't shoot first and ask questions later.   And although there was a lull in the story at one point, Johnston included several exciting and entertaining action and adventure scenes as Owen and Bay traversed Big Bend National Park.   Johnston did an excellent job with her research as she included details about the park that added authenticity to the story.

Not only did Johnston regale readers with harrowing events, but she inserted some humor into Owen and Bay's travels.   Bay, who apparently is a chatterbox when she is nervous, displayed a lack of skill, that a woman who grew up on a working ranch should have had, when it came to traversing dangerous desert terrain.   The scene where Owen accused Bay of trying to incite him to lust with her actions was particularly entertaining and thoroughly enjoyable.

Johnston also did a great job when it came to inserting sensuality and sizzle into the lovemaking scenes.   When Owen and Bay made love, the passion, heat, and emotional connection came though the pages.   And even though Bay was more resistant to opening her heart up to a Blackthorne than was Owen to a Creed, at least Bay's reasons for rejecting Owen as a mate held a bit more value than Callie's.   It was a relief that Johnston didn't have Bay continue to reject Owen with the same long perseverance that readers were subjected to in The Cowboy.   But, again, it was Owen that had to persuade Bay to give the relationship a chance.
"It's okay, Red.   We'll figure something out.   This doesn't have to be the end of things between us."   (Owen, page 273)

"Damn it, Red!   Don't you dare give up on us!   Don't you quit!"   (Owen, page 283)
Another enjoyable aspect to the story was the way that Owen's and Bay's personalities were slowly revealed during their sojourn through Big Bend.   Again, even though it would have been nice to have more background details about each protagonist, Johnston did an excellent job of showing that Owen's and Bay's feelings complimented one another and allowed them to work together to overcome the odds that were stacked against them.
"Why didn't you became a lawyer like your brother?"
"I hated the thought of spending the rest of my life in an office.   I like the wide open spaces."
"I can appreciate that," Bay said.   "I feel the same way."   (Owen and Bay, page 73)

"My job doesn't allow for mistakes in a crisis," he said.
"Neither does mine."
He eyed her assessingly, "I suppose that's true.   Why would you choose a life-and-death job like being a vet?"
"I focus on the life part of the job," she said.   "And do my best to limit the deaths."
"Me, too," he said.   (Owen and Bay, page 114)
Naturally, since this is a romance novel, Johnston finishes with a big finale, in which Bay realizes she may die before she tells Owen, that, yes, she does love him.   And then readers are gifted with a true fairy-tale type ending in which Bay is blessed with the gift of her dreams on her wedding day.

One skill that Johnston has established in her books is her ability to include secondary characters that are so well-written and developed that they steal the spotlight from the main characters when it is their turn to walk through the pages of the story.   The Texan features quite a number of such secondary characters.   In fact, Johnston is so successful at adding more depth to several important secondary characters that she has ensured that readers will voraciously read the next books in the series to learn more about these people.

There are two secondary couples that are given voices in Owen and Bay's story.   The first couple, Jackson "Blackjack" Blackthorne and Lauren "Ren" Creed, are very much involved in a relationship, much to the dismay of their respective children.   Johnston paints such a vivid picture of the passion that exists between Blackjack and Ren that it is impossible not to hope that they will eventually be able to overcome the serious obstacles that are blocking their path to "happily ever after" land.
even a blind man could have sensed the yearning between his father and Lauren Creed whenever they got anywhere near one another, even before Jesse Creed's death.   (Owen, page 60)

Not just a peck on the cheek.   Not just a brush of the lips.   His large, work worn hands were splayed on her mother's jean-clad rear end, and she was arched into his body, her breasts pressed flat against his broad chest.   Their eyes were closed and their mouths were meshed and the way their jaws were working it was clear his tongue must be halfway down her throat.   (Bay, page 61)
And, boy, does Johnston pepper the story with some amazing twists and turns to add interest to the ongoing story of romance between Blackjack and Ren.   Since anyone who reads the back cover synopsis of the next book in the series, The Loner, will learn, 'Bad' Billy Coburn is Blackjack's son and that Summer Blackthorne is not his daughter.   And even though the book ends with Blackjack staying in a disastrous, loveless marriage, it was impossible not to understand the depth of Blackjack's love for Ren.
"You'll have to choose," she said.   "Between her and me."   (Lauren to Blackjack, page 102)

"Take it all!   I don't give a damn.   Just get out of my sight."   (Blackjack to Eve, page 262)
In this book, the story of how Blackjack and Ren meet and fell in love is told.   And while there are surely more details to the events that happened between Blackjack and Ren thirty-five years ago, apparently the passion and emotion between this couple was strong enough to last through many years of being married to another.   But Johnston botched one great big detail.   If readers of The Cowboy will remember, Ren told Callie:
"I was already pregnant with you when I realized I was in love with Jackson Blackthorne."   (The Cowboy, Lauren to Callie, page 226)
Also in The Cowboy, Trace is four years older than Callie.
Although they'd gone to school together their whole lives, he'd never paid much attention to her, because she was four years younger.   (The Cowboy, Trace, page 26)
In The Texan, it is revealed that Blackjack married Eve DeWitt after Lauren married Jesse Creed.
She wished she'd known then what she knew now.   That her conscience would force her to give up Blackjack and marry Jesse, whose child she carried.   And that even when she realized, within a year of marrying Jesse, that she'd made the wrong choice, it would be too late.   Because Jackson Blackthorne had already married Eve DeWitt and had a child of his own on the way.   (Lauren, page 97)
So how was it that Trace Blackthorne, Jackson and Eve's first child, was four years older than Callie Creed, Jesse and Lauren's first child?   Nevertheless, it is okay to accept that this is a work of fiction and readers can get over such a glaring mistake and re-enter the flow of the story for the entertainment value and hope that Johnston does a better job at math in the remainder of her books.

It is easy to overlook the occasional mistake because Johnston is so talented in the way she tells her stories that she can connect her readers to her characters on such a deep emotional level that she generates tears, tight throats and laughter.   And it is impossible not to shed tears with Lauren as Blackjack deals with the personification of evil to which he is married: Eve DeWitt Blackthorne.   Because money talks, Eve has managed to buy her way out of the sanitarium to which she had been committed for the last eighteen months.   And even though Eve provided readers with enough reasons to instill intense dislike towards her during The Cowboy, when Eve returns to the Castle and Blackjack, the depths of her lack of warmth and selfishness is exposed to an even greater degree and Johnston has managed to create feelings of extreme hatred for this character.

But it is the second couple in the story that really drew tears.   Johnston really began to flesh out the personality of Billy Coburn.   Billy is given a voice in this book and you cannot help but admire this 'Bad Boy' who has a deeply wounded heart underneath the facade of toughness that he developed to endure growing up under the heavy hand of an abusive, drunken father.   Johnston's descriptions of Billy are bold, vivid and incredibly revealing.
As Owen pulled up to the dilapidated Coburn homestead, he saw Bad Billy slouched in a rickety chair on the covered back porch.   His long legs extended over the broken porch rail, his booted feet crossed at the ankle.   A day's growth of dark beard masked his cheeks and chin, and he wore a battered Stetson that was crushed so far down over his shaggy black hair that it left his eyes in shadow."   (Owen, page 54)

His voice begged for an excuse to fight, and Owen had to resist the urge to give it to him.   (Owen, page 54)
As readers were told in The Cowboy, Summer Blackthorne is friends with Billy.   Johnston explains to readers why this came about.   Billy has struggled for years to remain "just friends" with Summer because he understands her even though he has loved her for years.   Billy knows he has nothing to offer Summer.
Billy recognized the look, because he'd seen it so often in his own mirror.   A need for acceptance.   A desire to please someone you feared you could never please.   And a feeling there must be something wrong with you, something that, if you only knew what it was, you would fix, because then you could get the acceptance you craved.   (Billy, page 106)
Billy, however, is not immune to Summer's feminity and when Summer realizes it, she presses the issue in her juvenile, "I'm Used To Getting Everything I Want" manner.   When Summer insists on kissing Billy to see what it was like, she destroys the friendship.
he couldn't be her friend anymore.   Things had changed unalterably between them.   They had played a dangerous game.   And they had both lost.   (Billy, page 112)
But what really divides Billy and Summer is their heredity.   The issue of the "haves" and the "have nots" is again addressed by Johnston in The Texan.   The Blackthornes walk through life without a clue about how difficult it is for everyone else to just put food on the table.   Johnston portrays this characteristic realistically and vividly time and time again during the telling of Owen and Bay's story.
"You can't imagine what it's like to be poor, because you've been rich all your life."   (Bay to Owen, page 209)

She was already waiting for him when he arrived, wearing a tailored Western shirt, designer jeans that hugged every curve, and hand-tooled Western boots with her family's Circle B brand on them, made especially for her by a bootmaker in Dallas.   The clothes on her back would have fed his family for half a year.   She had no concept of what it meant to be poor, and he could never explain it to her.   (Billy, about Summer, page 175)

Mrs. Blackthorne's countenance was serene, as though she didn't have a worry in the world -- and never had.   And her tailored, tiny-sized, off-white suit and snakeskin pointy-toed shoes must have cost at least a thousand dollars -- each.   (Dora, page 228)
So while Billy is just struggling to exist and then he experiences the extreme anguish of losing Summer, the love of his life, when he learns that he is Blackjack's son, his tears and that of the reader flow.   Billy is such a admirable character that one looks forward to reading his story (The Loner) with great anticipation.   And not because he is to be paired with Summer.   Because Summer is just not likeable in this story.   In her youth and naivety, she expects Billy to do all the giving and then rejects him because he choose money over her.   (Only a person who never had money problems would identify with Summer.)
Whether it was a flaw in his character or not, he wanted to be proud of himself and what he did.   (Billy, page 314)

Billy felt like he was being ripped apart.   He wanted Summer.   He wanted that job.   But he couldn't have both.   (Billy, page 314)

"Sorry isn't good enough, Billy.   You of all people . . . choosing money over me.   I hate you.   Do you hear?" she sobbed.   "I hate you!   How could you?   You were supposed to be my friend."   (Summer, page 316)
One other secondary character was important to the story line of this book,   Billy's mother, Dora Coburn was given a voice in the book to move the story along the path Johnston was taking.   Johnston, however, did not develop the personality of Dora in this story.   She was just used as a plotting instrument.   For some reason, unbeknownst to reader, Dora, or probably Blackjack himself, Blackjack, in a weak moment twenty-five years ago, had sex with young Dora when she was a waitress at the Lone Star Café.   That one incident resulted in pregnancy.   When young, single Dora approached the Castle to talk to Blackjack, she ended up in the clutches of evil Eve and as a result found herself married to Johnny Ray Coburn and was forced to endure a life of misery.

In closing, The Texan, the second book in The Bitter Creek Series, is another of Joan Johnston's engaging, intriguing, entertaining well-told stories.   She included in this book the following: {1} Owen Blackthorne, an honorable, compassionate, strong-willed, driven hero, who quickly and easily won hearts of readers; {2} Bayleigh "Bay" Creed, a pint-sized heroine, who is a bundle of fury and determination, willing to do whatever it takes to support her family; {3} enough action and adventure scenes as Owen and Bay traverse Big Bend National Park to keep the story moving at a strong pace; {4} a modicum of suspense as Owen and Bay search for the mastermind who stole canisters of a deadly nerve gas; {5} strong feelings of romance permeate the entire story as Owen and Bay are acutely aware of the other as they travel; {6} a deep emotional connection between reader and characters brought forth tears and laughter; {7} emotional, passionate, sizzling lovemaking scenes added a spicy flavor to the story; {8} the inclusion of ongoing sub-stories that involve incredibly well-written secondary characters that really add to the enjoyment of the book.   Those characters include: {1} Jackson "Blackjack" Blacktorne, the patriarch of the wealthy Bitter Creek family; {2} Lauren "Ren" Creed, Bay's mother and the love of Blackjack's life; {3} 'Bad' Billy Coburn, the Bad Boy who melted readers into a puddle of tears; {4} Summer Blackthorne, an unlikeable spoiled little rich girl; {5} Eve DeWitt Blackthorne, the detestable evil wife of Blackjack; {5} Dora Coburn, the suffering mother of Billy; {6} Sam Creed, the rarely appearing, paralyzed brother to Bay; {7} Luke Creed, the young, antagonistic brother of Bay, and {8} Clay Blackthorne, the seriously under-developed twin brother of Owen.   Having read this book once before (October 17, 2006), The Texan will remain on my "To Be Re-Read" list.
--Vonda M. Reid (Friday, December 12, 2014 : 10:30 p.m.)     [350]

Books In The Series: "The Bitter Creek Series"
# Date Title Hero Heroine
01.02-2000The CowboyTrace Blackthorne: eldest sonCallie Creed: eldest daughter
  secondary story:Jackson "Blackjack" Blackthorne: family patriarchLauren "Ren" Creed: family matriarch
02.03-2001The TexanOwen Blackthorne: Texas RangerBayleigh "Bay" Creed: veterinarian
  secondary story:Jackson "Blackjack" Blackthorne: family patriarchLauren "Ren" Creed: family matriarch
  secondary story:'Bad' Billy Coburn: dirt poor, town bad boySummer Blackthorne: spoiled little rich girl
03.03-2002The LonerBilly Coburn: dirt poor, town bad boySummer Blackthorne: spoiled little rich girl
  secondary story:Jackson "Blackjack" Blackthorne: family patriarchLauren "Ren" Creed: family matriarch
  secondary story:Sam Creed: eldest sonEmma Coburn: Billy's sister
04.03-2003The PriceLuke Creed: Houston D&B attorneyAmelia "Amy" Hazeltine Nash: his high school sweetheart
  secondary story:Drew Dewitt: Houston D&B attorneyGrayson Choate: Houston D&B attorney
05.09-2004The RivalsDrew DeWitt: wealthy playboySarah Barndollar: Teton County Deputy Sheriff
  secondary story:Clayton "Clay" Blackthorne: U.S. Attorney GeneralElsbeth "Libby" Grayhawk: back-country guide
06.09-2005The Next Mrs. BlackthorneNorth Grayhawk: Texas and Wyoming rancherJocelyn Montrose: socialite
  secondary story:Jack McKinley: former NFL quarterback, playboyKatherine "Kate" Grayhawk: UT freshman
  secondary story:Clayton "Clay" Blackthorne: new Federal JudgeElsbeth "Libby" Grayhawk: wilderness guide
07.07-2007A Stranger's GameBreed Grayhawk: FBI AgentGrace Caldwell: framed for murder
  secondary story:Jack McKinley: Texas RangerKatherine "Kate" Grayhawk Pendleton: mother of twins
08.01-2010ShatteredWyatt Shaw: billionaireKatherine "Kate" Grayhawk Pendleton: physical therapist
  secondary story:Jack McKinley: Texas RangerHolly Gayle Tanner McKinley: pediatric oncologist
09.04-2012Texas Bride [1]Jacob "Jake" CreedMiranda Wentworth
10.01-2013Wyoming Bride [1]Flint CreedHannah Wentworth McMurty
10e03-2014A Bitter Creek Christmas. . .. . .
11.01-2014Montana Bride [1]Karl NorwoodHetty Wentworth
12.05-2014SinfulConnor Flynn: widower, Delta ForceEve Grayhawk:
[1]   These books are listed as a Historical Romance Sub-Series entitled "The Mail Order Brides".

Characters Found In "The Texan"
Character Description
Owen Blackthorne[Hero] Texas Ranger (1) Clay's identical twin; tall; broad-shouldered; lean-hipped; spent his life outdoors, so his skin was tanned, making his gray eyes look almost silver, and he had his share of crow's-feet from squinting pass the glare of the searing Texas sun; mostly wore Wrangler jeans, a yoked white Western shirt with a bolo tie, and cowboy boots; 32-y-o (3) wavy black hair crept a good 2 inches over his collar (29) dark curls on his chest; strong, sinewy forearms; sharp cheekbones and bronze skin gave him the look of some long-ago savage; responsible for the high school football injury to Sam (30) 6'+" tall (33) son of one of the wealthiest men in the country (40) controlled his emotions; quick reflexes; loved his job, it was all he had (53) 6'4" (57) cold, remote gray eyes; stayed in control; features revealed little (65) qualified pilot (69) drove black extended cab Silverado (70) majored in government in college (73) washboard abdominal muscles (135) lead a privileged life (163) masculine physique; sinewy arms; powerful hands; rugged jaw; sharp nose; muscular calves, thighs, feet (267)
Bayleigh "Bay" Creed[Heroine] wore butter-soft jeans that cupped her butt, that emphasized her flat belly and slender legs (5) thick auburn hair; blazing blue eyes; sprinkle of childish freckles across her nose (7) barely reached Owen's shoulder; Owen's hands could span her waist; curved in all the right places; not well endowed on top (7) spitfire (9) studied at veterinary college at Texas A&M; licensed vet for more than a year (16) 25-y-o; yellow roses were her favorite flower (21) not very tall; all legs; fit Owen in all the right places; reminded Owen of one of those small, prickly animals that put up dangerous spikes if you got too close (52) violet blue eyes (53) flew helicopters during roundup (70) trained in martial arts (71) talked when nervous (113) loved movies (117) prickly; persistent (147) had lived hand-to-mouth (162) unable to have kids (268)
. . . . . .
Callie Creed Blackthorne[No Appearance] [Heroine of Book 1: The Cowboy] Bayleigh's eldest sister; married Trace Blackthorne (18) lived on cattle station in Australia (42) pregnant at Christmas (269)
Clay Blackthorne[Secondary Character] [Hero of Book 6: The Next Mrs. Blackthorne] Owen's identical twin; tall; broad-shouldered; lean-hipped; had been elected the youngest ever attorney general of the state of Texas two years ago at the age of 30; wore a button-down Oxford-cloth shirt with a red striped tie, expensive wool-blend suit trousers, and cordovan shoes; dark chest hair (3) Major in the Bitter Creek National Guard (4) silk Armani tie (5) son of one of the wealthiest men in the country (40) majored in government in college; attended Harvard Law (73) ambitious; believed political power was the road to important social change (147) commanding officer of Bravo Company, 186th Combat Engineer Battalion (201)
Eve DeWitt Blackthorne[Major Secondary Character] Owen's mother; responsible for the death of Bayleigh's father; in a sanitarium (2) despised Owen (51) doing everything in her power from the sanitarium to prevent divorce (59) brought 50,000 acres of DeWitt grassland to her marriage; beautiful; educated; talented; a perfect hostess; a critically acclaimed artist; a good businesswoman; a passionate and creative and desirable sexual partner (183) took pictures of interesting subjects, then corrected the flaws she found in the photographs, transforming the blemish world into perfect beauty on canvas; a nationally renowned Western artist (185) looked young, natural, touchable (186) incredibly beautiful, her blonde hair cut short and styled in windswept look; serene countenance (228) shrewd look in ice-blue eyes (230) like a snake in the Garden of Eden (231) a woman with empty spaces that she refused to fill with the things she wanted -- especially love; had been unhappy for a long time (236) a little crazy; a little vengeful; a little sad (237)
Jackson "Blackjack" Blackthorne[Major Secondary Character] Owen's father; loved Ren (27) patriarch of Blackthorne family; hired Ren to train cutting horses for him (48) 18 months ago when learned Eve had been unfaithful, vowed to end 33-y-o marriage in divorce (59) large, work worn hands; broad chest (61) thick black hair (62) annoying, unruffled calm (65) hard-hearted (70) stone cold gray eyes (95) wily-tongued devil (97) powerful chest (98) willingness to make hard choices when he was after something he wanted; aged well; 55-y-o; crow's feet at the corners of his eyes and harsh lines drawn on either side of his mouth; jawline was still straight and firm, probably from the arrogant thrust of it all these years; inch or two taller than Jesse, but his shoulders were broader, more powerful (99) trim waist; lean of hip; looked weathered, like a piece of wood that had met wind and sun and only been polished to a brighter sheen; nearly killed by heart attack 2-y-a (100)
Summer Blackthorne[Major Secondary Character] [Heroine of Book 3: The Loner] Owen and Clay's little sister; had reputation for running wild; dropped out of six colleges; the apple of her father's eyes; spoiled rotten; hazel eyes; blond hair (17) skintight jeans (57) mind of her own (59) her dream was to run Bitter Creek Cattle Company; father wanted to sell her to get more land; hazel eyes (105) vulnerable; felt very alone in a house full of servants; stifled by her brothers because they wanted to keep her safe; didn't understand her mother, who kept her at far more than an arm's distance; loved her father, who couldn't imagine a dream she had that reached far beyond becoming a wife and mother (174) drove cherry red brand new Silverado (175)
Trace Blackthorne[No Appearance] [Hero of Book 1: The Cowboy] Owen's eldest brother; married Callie Creed (18) lived on cattle station in Australia (42)
James Brophy[Rare Appearances] FBI Agent; worked with Paul Ridgeway; attacked Owen and Bay (157)
'Bad' Billy Coburn[Major Secondary Character] [Hero of Book 3: The Loner] rode a Harley (38) "slouched in a rickety chair on the covered back porch. His long legs extended over the broken porch rail, his booted feet crossed at the ankle. A days growth of dark beard masked his cheeks and chin, and he wore a battered Stetson that was crushed so far down over his shaggy black hair that it left his eyes in shadow."; cigarette hung from the corner of his mouth; voice begged for an excuse to fight; air of menace about him; beaten regularly by his father until he was 14 (54) earned his name, becoming a dangerous sonofabtich to cross; suspended so many times it was a wonder he'd graduated from high school; scored amazingly high on his college boards; didn't have the grades to get into affordable state university; family couldn't afford to send him to private university; drunk too much; fought on a whim; looked for trouble wherever he rode; Trace fired him for drunken brawl 2-y-a; so good with a rope that found other ranch work; didn't get along well with others, so jobs didn't last long; lanky cowboy; malevolence lurked in his dark eyes (55) lived his life in isolation; member of Bravo Company; "Resentment for all the years he had stood alone against the world simmered in Bad Billy Coburn's dark, sullen eyes." (56) 6'4" (57) father died in drunk driving accident year ago; friends with Summer; reputed to be wild in his dealings with women (58) had been a model citizen since father had died; hated his home; hated growing up there; stayed to help sister (103) powerful arms; broad chest; long, strong arms (109) 4 years older than Summer (174) lanky, all muscle and sinew; crow-black hair needed a cut and hung over his frayed collar beneath a dirty gray felt Stetson that was stained with sweat around the braided leather band; deep-set eyes were dark; his mouth sullen; his stance defiant (243) insolent; obstinate; determination of a dozen generations of Blackthornes (257) responsible; dutiful son (258) response to adversity had always been to fight back (309)
Mrs. Dora Coburn[Major Secondary Character] Billy's mother (58) 25 years, hard work and unhappiness had etched face with too many wrinkles; looked 55 when in fact she was only 44; wore a fraying print jersey dress she'd brought at Kmart in a woman's size to accommodate the extra pounds that had stuck to her waist and hips from too many cheap meals of tortillas and pinto beans and rice; scraped her long, gray-streaked brown hair back from her face in a no-nonsense bun; wore black plastic framed glasses that hid entrancing brown eyes; had once been young and beautiful enough to catch Jackson Blackthorne's eye; had worked part time after school at the Loan Star Café in town as a waitress (228)
Emma Coburn[No Appearance] Billy's teen-aged sister (58)
Johnny Ray Coburn[No Appearance] Eve Blackthorne arranged for him to marry Dora, to keep Blackjack's bastard a secret; turned out to be a mean drunk; envy and hate ate at him; beat innocent wife and child; shiftless; lazy (234)
Cricket Stewart Creed[No Appearance] [Heroine of Frontier Woman] Bay's and Owen's ancestor; married Jarrett Creed first, English Blackthorne second (74)
Jarrett Creed[No Appearance] [Hero of Frontier Woman] Bay's ancestor; a Texas Ranger (74) thought killed in Civil War; wounded, ended up in Andersonville; returned home to find Cricket married to Blackthorne; disappeared (224)
Jesse Creed[No Appearance] murdered (1) Bayleigh and Luke's father (8) dark eyes (95)
Lauren "Ren" Creed[Major Secondary Character] Bayleigh's mother (27) complexion unmarred by the harsh Texas sun; didn't wear makeup and didn't need it; trim figure, almost girlish; fine lines around her wide-set hazel eyes; 51-y-o (46) gray hair at her temples; still craved Jackson (100) as graceful and elegant as the horse she rode (322)
Luke Creed[Important Secondary Character] [Hero of Book 4: The Price] 18-y-o; baggy jeans; over-sized t-shirt; Texas-sized chip on his narrow shoulders; brown hair was cut in short, youthful spikes; desperate brown eyes were ages older, angry, bitter and disillusioned; had been in and out of trouble constantly for the past 18 months, since his father was murdered; blamed the Blackthornes for father's murder (1) member of Bitter Creek National Guard (4) Harley-Davidson (22) 6' tall; slim (26) private in Bravo Company (36) son of widowed mother who could barely make ends meet (40)
Sam Creed[Secondary Character] Bayleigh's older brother (21) high school football injury left him paralyzed (30) a cripple for life at 18; he'd railed against his fate; for the next 11 years, had been a surly, miserable creature, drunk as often as not; become responsible after father's death; Trace arranged for a special van that Sam could drive by himself and remodeled the foreman's house so Sam could live there on his own; scraggly beard was gone; shoulder-length chestnut-brown hair had been trimmed up over his ears; wore a newly ironed Western shirt and crisp jeans and boots with a spit shine (44) brown eyes were clear and bright, without the red lines that spoke of a night's dissipation; voice had a pleasant Texas drawl without the slur that had so often marked his speech when he was drunk; took a great interest in family's Santa Gertrudis cow/calf business (45)
Russell Handy[No Appearance] Eve Blackthorne's lover; Blackjack's segundo; conspired with Eve; killed Jesse Creed; had taken all the blame on himself, confessing his guilt to the police and refusing to name any other responsible party; had been convicted of murder and was serving a life sentence in Huntsville (51) loved Eve; respected and admired Blackjack (75)
Hardy[One Appearance] Bitter Creek ranch hand; Blackjack asked him to rough up Bad Billy Coburn (243)
Hobo[Animal] mule; had eaten a plastic bag that had gotten stuck in its throat (20)
Leon[One Appearance] Bitter Creek ranch hand; Blackjack asked him to rough up Bad Billy Coburn (243)
Tex Mabry[Brief Appearances] Texas Ranger Captain; Owen's boss; older man; salt and pepper mustache (36)
Manny[One Appearance] 12-y-o boy who answered pay phone when Bayleigh tried to call Luke back (26)
Marcus[One Appearance] Bitter Creek ranch hand; Blackjack asked him to rough up Bad Billy Coburn (243)
Rascal[Animal] one of Cricket Stewart's pet wolves (74)
Hank Richardson[No Appearance] Texas Ranger who was sent to Big Bend to track down thieves of VX nerve gas mines; killed (10) Owen's best friend (11)
Julia Richardson[One Appearance] Hank's wife; 8 months pregnant (13)
Cindy Ridgeway[No Appearance] Paul Ridgeway's only daughter; Clay Blackthorne's fiancé; killed two weeks before the wedding by a vagrant (11) won barrel racing and rodeo competitions; college debate trophies; both athletic and smart (295)
Paul Ridgeway[Secondary Character] the FBI special-agent in charge of coordinating all the law enforcement agencies investigating the theft of the VX mines; had a difficult time dealing with daughter's death (11) wore wire-rimmed glasses that made him look businesslike rather than trendy; nearly bald, what hair he had been cut severely short; no mistaking that he was in charge; reminded Bay of a bulldog, with his powerful neck, square flat face, and short legs; fiercely tenacious (78) dark eyes (81)
Rogue[Animal] one of Cricket Stewart's pet wolves (74)
Ruffian[Animal] one of Cricket Stewart's pet wolves (74)
Slim[One Appearance] Creed ranch hand; watching over Smart Little Doc and Sugar Pep (90)
Smart Little Doc[Animal] Blackthorne's championship cutter (60)
Sugar Pep[Animal] Creed's mare; breed to Smart Little Doc (60)
Sylvia[One Appearance] Clay's secretary (284)
Tom[One Appearance] Bitter Creek ranch hand; told to take Summer home (242)
Terry Watkins[Rare Appearances] FBI Agent that came to camp to retrieve Luke (280)

Locations, Organizations Found In "The Texan"
Location / Organization Description
Alpinesmall town near Big Bend where Owen land CJ1 (76)
Armadillo Barbar where Owen entered to find Luke causing trouble (1)
Big Bend National Parkwas about the most desolate, perilous place you could be in West Texas; desert landscape was rife with poisonous snakes and sharp-thorned cacti; cell phones didn't always work in the rugged mountains and deep canyons (28) sprawled over an area larger than Rhode Island, with hundreds of miles of paved and unpaved roads and remote, primitive trails; most of it was desert filled with plants that needed little water (39)
Bitter Creeksituated on the eastern side of the bottom most tip of Texas, south of San Antonio, east of Houston, and north of Brownsville (28)
Bitter Creek Cattle CompanyBlackthorne ranch; an 800 square-mile cattle ranch with enough oil underground to please an Arab sheik (19)
the Castlethe name the Blackthorne's called their home; 30,000 square feet filled with Tiffany and Chippendale and a heritage that went back 150 years (19)
Dead Horse Mountainswhere Bay believed Luke to be (87)
Franklin ranchwhere Bayleigh called to attend Hobo (20)
Henderson ranchwhere Bayleigh made a house call (20)
Midland-Odessa Airportwhere Bay landed helicopter (282)
Panther Junctionone entrance to Big Bend; where Owen and Bay entered (84)
Pine Bluff, Arkansaswhere a disposal and storage facility for VX nerve gas mines was located (5)
Rio Grande Villagewhere Luke called Bay from pay phone (26)
Sam's Placecamp for kids with disabilities that Owen funded with the trust fund from his grandmother (his father's mother); in the Hill Country near Fredericksburg (206)
Stephenson ranchwhere Bayleigh made a house call (20)
Telephone Canyon Trailin Big Bend National Park; the Army ran a phone line down the canyon during World War I (113)
Texas and Southwestern Cattle AssociationJackson Blackthorne was past president (259)
Three Oaksthe Creed ranch; had been forced to come up with millions of dollars to pay real estate taxes on the ranch when Jesse Creed died (8) lodged in the very center of the vast Bitter Creek ranching empire (17) measured a mere 5 miles east and west and 20 miles north and south; land had been bitterly fought over by Blackthorne's and Creed's since the Civil War (18)

"The Texan" Quotations
21Unlike people, animals loved honestly, unjudgmently, and without reservation.   (Bayleigh)
53He hated apologizing even more than he hated losing his temper.   (Owen)
104She had no idea his feelings for her went as deep as the ocean.   (Billy)
106Billy recognized the look, because he'd seen it so often in his own mirror.   A need for acceptance.   A desire to please someone you feared you could never please.   And a feeling there must be something wrong with you, something that, if you only knew what it was, you would fix, because then you could get the accepted you craved.   (Billy)
179"I'm asking if you really want to be with me, Summer.   Enough to give up your life at Bitter Creek and become a part of mine."   (Billy)
179"This isn't a game, Summer.   I'm not a toy you can play with when the mood strikes and put back in the box."   (Billy)
183When he was with her [Ren], she filled a place inside him that had been empty for far too long.   (Blackjack)
314Whether it was a flaw in his character or not, he wanted to be proud of himself and what he did.   (Billy)

"Joan Johnston -- The Texan" Review and Information Links
Rated Posted Site Notes, Comments, Etc.
----Joan Johnston's WebsiteAuthor
----Joan Johnston's FacebookAuthor
. . . . . . . . .. . .
D / Hot03-21-2001All About Romance--Rachel Porter // excellently justified her harsh statements
4.34 average{29 reviews}Amazonas of: December 13, 2014
4.50 average{40 ratings}Barnes & Nobleas of: December 13, 2014
----Fantastic FictionList of Joan Johnston's Books
----Fict FactList of Books In The "Bitter Creek" Series
----Fiction DBList of Joan Johnston's Books
Article06-24-2014Fresh FictionJoan Johnston -- The Challenges of Writing a Series
4.14 average{1,049 ratings}Good Readsas of: December 13, 2014
3.63 average{27 ratings}Library Thingas of: December 13, 2014
4.00 average{149 ratings}Paperback Swapas of: December 13, 2014
----Order of BooksList of Joan Johnston's Books
4.14 average{7 reviews}Shelfarias of: December 13, 2014
4.8512-13-2014Wolf Bear Does Booksshorter post on Amazon, Fiction DB, Good Reads, Library Thing, Shelfari

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