It all started when she got thrown off the wagon train. Now, a crook is dead and Sarah Andrews has been raffled off in a "Wife Lottery." That seems bad enough-- until she discovers her new groom with a knife in his back.He just barely survives--and now if Sarah doesn't get him out of town fast, someone is going to make sure Sam Gatlin doesn't live long enough to enjoy the honeymoon. No matter what he may have done, or how many enemies he has, Sarah feels she owes him. After all, he saved her from a life in prison. But never in her wildest dreams did she imagine that this dangerously attractive Texan would steal her heart and make her want to take the biggest gamble of all....
A while back I read Jodi Thomas's A Texan's Wager and really enjoyed it. So naturally I was looking forward to continue with the series. Unfortunately this When a Texan Gambles is not as good.
The series name is The Wife Lottery, three women confess to murder and the town's sheriff, due to lack of evidence to trial them, lack of women for the men, and lack of space and provisions to keep them in jail decides to give them in marriage to the man who offers to pay their fine. In the first book Bailee ends up with a settler and in this one it's Sarah's story with the man who won her, Sam Gatlin - a bounty hunter.
The story starts off with Sam getting shot and Sarah having to nurse him. While Sam is unconscious they are joined by 3 children who tell Sarah they are Sam's children. They aren't and so Sam keeps telling Sarah once he wakes up but she has a certain difficulty believing him. So, besides getting to know each other, there's the mystery of who the children are and the threat of the outlaws who are chasing them both. The children's mystery it's solved really quickly so they spend the rest of the book trying to best their enemies.
It did sound like a good plot but my main problem was the heroine, Sarah. Even if she did not have an easy life, even if she was raised by people who didn't tell her the facts of life and even if her late husband sounded like a man with some very strange notions about marriage (the description of her life is almost too bad to be true); she mostly seemed like a TSTL heroine to me instead of a tortured or wounded one. She keeps assuming things about Sam without knowing the facts, she doesn't question the silly ideas that she has and she basically refuses to have sex with him while she keeps tempting him with it. It all sounded very silly to me.
What I did like? I liked Sam, a sensible man trying to survive in the almost lawless west by hunting criminals but who can still recognise that some of the outlaw's he chases may not be all bad and who finds himself fascinated by Sarah. He tries to protect her and in case things get worse tries to leave her provided for. A really nice hero that I felt deserved a better heroine.