It seems that Western Romances are few and far between when it comes to new release romance novels, so I was thrilled when Bound for Eden by Tess LeSue landed on my doorstep! I’m a huge fan of westerns, and I dove right in! There was a lot to love about this book, and one of the things that stood out most was the sibling rivalry between our main character, Alexandra, and her sister Victoria. Their banter was fantastic, so it seems fitting the author would share a story about what sisterhood means to her.
| Guest Post |
I never had a sister. I have a brother, who is only sixteen months younger than me; growing up people thought we were twins. I also have six male cousins close to me in age, so my childhood was spent in a pack of boys. There was a lot of climbing trees and racing bikes and general rough and tumble ridiculousness. They liked to curse each other out and laugh at each other, throw food and make filthy jokes. Once we did a Christmas nativity play on Christmas Day (organized by my two much older girl cousins) and the boys ended up getting in a tussle and beating up the sheep… on stage. Our Virgin Mary was so infuriated with them that she stormed off with the baby Jesus and never came back. Leaving me with the boys.
Despite all this, I was never much of a tomboy. I liked playing dress ups and spreading my Barbie dolls out on the lawn. Ken and Barbie got married a lot. When the boys ran around pretending to be Storm Troopers, I was Princess Leia, making sure the galaxy was well organized. When they cannonballed into the pool, I kept well out of the way. But I was used to boys; they made sense to me.
Then when I was nine I started at an all-girls school. It was a revelation to me. For a start no one gave me a dead arm. Not once. And no one made ‘Yo Mama’ jokes or went into Blues Brothers routines. To my astonishment I learned that other people played Barbie dolls too. And read Sweet Valley High. And understood why Gilbert from Anne of Green Gables was sooooooo cute.
I’ve never looked back.
Female friendship and sisterhood is important to me. There is nothing as comforting as an afternoon or an evening spent with girlfriends, having a coffee or a wine and a chat. During hard times in my life, my girlfriends have always been there for me. And they still talk books and boys.
Unsurprisingly, sisterhood is a theme in my work. In Bound for Eden, Alex will do anything to protect her foster sister, Victoria, even staying disguised as a boy and sacrificing her chance to be with the hero, Luke Slater. She does so even though she and Victoria have a fierce rivalry and are often jealous of one another. Victoria is jealous of Alex’s flashy good looks and the way she attracts men; she’s openly glad when Alex has to dress as a boy. For the first time in their lives Victoria is the one who gets the attention, she’s the one men notice and flirt with. And when Luke comes along – tall, dark and delicious – it’s Victoria who gets to monopolize him, while Alex has to harness the mules and drive the wagon and labour alongside Luke. Alex is green with envy as she has to stand by and watch Victoria in her new yellow dress, attracting men (and Luke!) like a flame attracts moths.
There’s no more fraught situation than for friends (or sisters) to be attracted to the same man. What happens when Mr Tall Dark and Handsome walks right between you and your BFF? What happens when he’s not just any man, but the love of your life? What happens when he chooses her, and not you? How do you manage those stabbing feelings of jealousy? The insecure little voices in your head that tell you you’re not good enough, that she’s better? How on earth can you bear to watch them together? To be in their company?
It’s the ultimate test of sisterly love.
And what I love and admire about Alex is that ultimately her sisterly love wins out. Even though her relationship with Victoria can be strained, even though they rub each other up the wrong way, even though Alex is tortured by jealousy, in the end Victoria is important enough to her for her to sacrifice her own happiness. She can’t bear to see her foster sister suffer. She would rather suffer herself. And so she stays dressed as a boy and gives Victoria every opportunity to pursue Luke – even as it cuts Alex to the quick. Without Victoria knowing, she polices Luke, making sure he treats her sister kindly. She doesn’t always behave well – she can’t quite stop herself from torturing Victoria – but she stops short of causing her harm.
Alex loves Luke with every fibre of her being, but even in the face of such overpowering feeling she can’t betray her sister. They’ve survived orphanhood together, they’ve faced hunger and isolation, villains, and a voyage of more than a thousand miles, and Alex is determined that no man will ever get between them. She would rather suffer heartbreak than lose her sister.
I love the complexity of Alex and Victoria’s relationship and the way in which sisterly love is not always pleasant but it’s always powerful.
Like Alex, I don’t have blood sisters, but I have women I’m so close to that they feel like my sisters. Our relationships are supportive and fractious, entangled and loving. And I hope I’ve managed to capture some of that feeling in Bound for Eden. Because I think relationships between women are every bit as glorious as the relationships between our heroes and heroines.
Bound for Eden by Tess LeSue | Frontiers of the Heart #1
Historical Romance, Western
Publication Date | May 1st, 2018