Anne here. Recently I've been discovering some of the older style historical romances. Not rediscovering — discovering them for the first time. I came to romance novels later in life, and many of the US romances simply weren't available here in Australia, so I know I've missed out on some that are regarded by many romance readers as "classics of romance."
Some time back, on the wenches private loop, Jo Beverley mentioned Maggie Osborne's The Promise of Jenny Jones and out of curiosity I went looking for it. I bought it on line, read it and loved it. So fresh and original and good.
Jenny Jones is a rough, tough, fiercely independent Annie Oakley kind of western gal. When the story opens, she's been sentenced to death, but a desperate mother takes Jenny Jones' place in front of a firing squad in exchange for Jenny's promise to see her daughter safely to California. Jenny mightn't look like much, she mightn't have much, but she takes her honor seriously, and any promise she gives is solid gold.
Jenny and the six-year-old Graciela are chalk and cheese — or maybe burlap and satin. The battle of wills between her and the spoiled and indulged yet vulnerable Graciela are wonderful. A bunch of Graciela's cousins are in hot pursuit — for evil or for good, Jenny isn't sure— but add in handsome cowboy Ty Sanders, and you've got all the ingredients for a wonderful romance. But for my money, it's the relationship between Jenny Jones and Graciela that steals the show.