Review: Texas Redeemed by Isla Bennet

Pub. Date: May 2013
Publisher: Montlake Romance
406 pages

When you think of Romance as a genre, the usual stereotypes include a female protagonist, lots of dialogue, a very linear story, and a happy ending. Texas Redeemed might be a Romance – but it completely breaks the mould.

Going through med school and traveling the world as part of Doctors Without Borders has acted as a distraction from the rebellious life Peyton Turner ran from thirteen years before. Back in his Texas hometown of Night Sky, Peyton learns the youthful mistake he regrets the most, is one he didn’t know he made. In the years he was gone, he intentionally stayed hidden from his complicated family life, but in his silence, he unknowingly prevented his best friend Valerie from being able to tell him she was pregnant with his twins. In an attempt to come to terms with the experiences he missed out on, Peyton sets out to claim what could have been. But the damage done by leaving may be a cut too deep for the good doctor to fix.  

There are so many novels (especially in the romance genre) where women get ‘rescued’ from their pasts by a man. In Texas Redeemed, first as children and then as adults, Peyton and Val support each other, and that support helps them move past the pain in their pasts – no rescue, just an honest
relationship. Peyton and Val’s history is complex. The hurt they feel is very real, but the love and support they had is still there, if they are willing to trust each other enough to get it back. Night Sky is a very real and full character throughout the novel. The sense of community and family that Val has created on her ranch contrasted with the success and money hungry world that Peyton’s grandfather lives in is captivating, and adds a dynamic of unknown to a genre that can be very predictable.

Lucy, Peyton and Val’s daughter, was without a doubt my favorite part of the novel. Through Lucy we see the damage Peyton unknowingly did when he left. She is intensely affected by having the father she never knew walk into her life, stirring up hidden feelings of abandonment, as well as feelings of guilt for surviving an illness her twin did not. The hurt she feels, and the sense of loss that Peyton ultimately feels because of Lucy’s traumas, is heartbreaking. It is through Lucy’s experiences with Peyton’s family that the reader comes to understand why Peyton had to leave, why you can forgive him for leaving, and that it’s ok to hope Val and Lucy can do the same. As much as I loved the natural and realistic re-growth of Peyton and Val’s relationship – because I really did – the relationship that Peyton and Lucy work to cultivate is so much more endearing and swoon worthy.

Bennet adds depth to a genre that is not always known for realistic storylines, captivating characters, or a lush sense of place. While initially put off a bit by the descriptive writing style, I was very quickly absorbed in Night Sky’s world, and the characters lives. I will definitely be looking out for what Bennet writes next

Rating 8.5/10

*** I received a copy of the novel from the author to read and honestly review. I was in no way compensated, and my opinion of the novel was in no way swayed.

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