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The Charmer In Chaps
The Princes of Texas Book 1
Julia London

May 7, 2019/ ISBN 9780451492357

Reviewed by Elise Cooper


The Charmer In Chaps by Julia London is a heartwarming novel. This relationship story emphasizes the need for a little more acceptance in society today, as both the main female and male characters struggle with handicaps.

"I explored many issues in this book from dyslexia to ecology to foster care. I thought how hard it would be for someone who could not read as an adult. I would think they would not be able to talk about their problem. Regarding foster care, I have some experience with my extended family. As with Ella, my family had children put in foster care because of drug problems. Here in Texas, meth is a big problem, and foster care is exploding. While I was researching this book, I found out that children were sleeping in the foster care offices because there was nowhere for them to go."

Another critical issue is the survival of Texas ranches. "I am interested in how ranches in Texas are going in that direction because it is so cost prohibitive. The cattle industry and farming is hard. Some have turned the land back into an oasis. I am personally interested in that and thought it a good interest for Luca. Today, people are trying different ecological approaches instead of mass production, which has basically killed family farming. There is also the issue that happened here after the hurricane. Not only horses, but cattle became feral. Those big ranches sometimes cannot find their livestock. I thought it interesting that there are now wild Mustangs running around Texas."

Luca Prince has grown up without a care in the world or so it seems. He is part of Texas' high society where his family is regarded as one of the wealthiest in the state. Contrast that with Ella Kendall, who is working two jobs and struggling to make ends meet. They have grown up in different worlds: the haves and the have-nots. Currently, Ella has exactly three things to her name: a dog, a pig, and the rundown house she just inherited from her grandmother. A chance meeting brings Luca and Ella together, but he has no idea she was a high school classmate of his who had a deep crush. Wanting to get to know her more, he decides to help her repair the house. But she knows him as a flirting womanizer cowboy. Having lived in foster homes all her life, she has built walls and barriers to hide her feelings and emotions. What makes the story so enduring is watching how both must overcome life's challenges, open up their hearts, and begin to trust each other.

London stated, "Who didn't have a crush in high school? Most everyone can relate. Remember how we covered our books with the brown paper grocery bags? A lot of people wrote on those covers about what they fantasized. Then later in life, they would dream of running into that person they had a crush on. I had my character Ella go from being on the fringe to having found herself. She is a loner who is trying to find her way. She is framing her own path slowly and methodically without having any real foundation in her life. She is practical, quiet, responsible, and is very guarded. I had this quote of how she has built a ‘border wall that is 30 feet high.'"

This was an uplifting story where readers root for the likable characters to overcome their handicaps. An added bonus is London's trademark witty character banter.

Reviewed 2019