Desert Isle Keeper
Texas Destiny is a Beauty and the Beast story, a road romance, and quite possible the most tear-inducing book I have ever read in my life. I’ve often thought if I could get a copy into the hands of all the fans of romance novels and then buy stock in the companies that make hankies, I would be a rich woman.
Dallas Leigh needs to pick up Amelia Carson, his mail-order bride. Unfortunately, Dallas has broken his leg trying to tame a horse, so he sends his brother Houston to get her. Houston is not happy with this errand at all. He is a recluse on his ranch and never goes into town if he can help it. When Houston was only 15, he was badly injured in the Civil War. He lost his left eye and the left side of his face is horribly scarred. Houston wears a patch over his eye and it covers the worst of the scars, but he is still the object of stares and comments and when he does go into town, the whores charge him double.
Amelia turns out to be a lovely young woman with a kind and gentle nature. She is a Southerner whose family lost everything in the Civil War. Amelia’s parents and siblings are all dead and she is very much alone. Amelia has been corresponding with Dallas Leigh and has agreed to come to Texas to marry him. When she sees Houston, she is surprised, but to his surprise, she is not repulsed by his scars.
Dallas’s ranch in west Texas is a huge one and it takes three weeks journey from the train station to get there. During the long journey, Houston and Amelia are thrown together into each other’s company constantly and she does her best to draw this taciturn man into conversation. Houston slowly begins to talk and he, who has always hidden from humanity, discovers the pleasure that simple human contact can bring. Amelia’s own sufferings during the war have given her empathy and understanding of the pain that Houston has endured. Her gentle strength and courage when they are faced with snake-bite, floods and stampede cause Houston to fall deeply in love with her and she with him.
If this were an old-fashioned melodrama, Dallas would turn out to be a horrible evil man who would eventually come to a bad end, clearing the way for Houston and Amelia. But this is not that kind of book. Dallas is a fine and decent man who is prepared to make Amelia a good husband, but he does not love her – not like Houston. But Dallas and Amelia are both honorable people and neither of them want to hurt Dallas.
The conclusion of Texas Destiny would wring tears from a stone and sets up the next book in the series Texas Glory, which is also one of my Desert Island Keepers. I have read Texas Destiny several times and it never fails to move me. It is heartfelt and sentimental in the best way without ever falling into bathos. I’ll leave you with an exchange between Houston and Amelia which gets my vote for the most-hanky dialogue ever.
Amelia askes Houston if he minds if she removes his eyepatch:
“I love everything about you, Houston. Everything”
“Even the ugliness?”
“That’s just it. I don’t see any ugliness when I look at you.”
Amelia then removes the eyepatch:
“I think you’re handsome as sin.”
“You can’t love me that much.”
“I love you more.”
|Review Date:||October 5, 1999|
|Book Type:||American Historical Romance | Frontier/Western Hist Romance|
|Review Tags:||Beauty and the Beast | Frontier Romance | Frontier/Western Historical Romance | Reconstruction era | tearjerker | Texas | Western romance|