Texas Empires: Crown of Glory
There’s a thin line between fiesty and foolish, and Ellie Chase straddles the fence between the two in Evelyn Roger’s newest romance, Crown of Glory. One minute she’s a capable woman, the next she’s an idiot. It’s the only facet of her personality that remains the same throughout the entire book.
Ellie was left to be raised by her aunt after the death of her mother. She never saw her father again, but continued to write to him over the years even though he never wrote back. Once he is reportedly murdered, Ellie decides to avenge his death, chasing the men supposedly responsible from New Orleans to Texas with two retired prostitutes for companions.
Even though it is his uncles who have been implicated in the murder, Ellie just knows that Cal Hardin is involved as well. He is far too cool and far too handsome to be innocent of anything. A man that confident couldn’t possibly have a conscience. After spying on him at his mother’s funeral she is convinced that he is devoid of feeling and must be made to pay along with his uncles. Ellie, a proper virgin, decides she must “distract” Cal while her companions coerce his uncles into admitting their guilt. Does anyone else see a few holes in this plot? Meanwhile Cal is the typical tortured hero, abandoned by his father, raised by his mother – he’s even a self-made man, having started out boxing at age fifteen. He never plans to marry as the only use he has for a woman is in bed. Even though he doesn’t trust the yellow-haired woman who seems to hate him for no reason, he still wants her in his bed. As fate would have it, once he finally lays claim to her body he realizes he wants her heart as well.
The cast is rounded off by a dozen extra characters, the most interesting of which are the Dollarhide sisters and Cal’s uncles. These four are far more appealing than either Ellie or Cal, both of whom fall more than a little flat. Cal is just too distant and remote to be sympathetic and Ellie’s character is too inconsistent. Her realization that she is in love with Cal comes too early, when there’s no reason for her to love him at all. Has she forgotten that she doesn’t trust him? She also conveniently forgets that he is intentionally rude to her.
There’s plenty of sexual tension between Cal and Ellie, but they don’t sleep together until well past the halfway mark. Rogers handles the scene very well. Even though circumstances made Ellie’s seduction of Cal hard to believe, I particularly liked the fact that Ellie didn’t have multiple (or even one) orgasms her first time. But is anyone else starting to view heroes who bathe the heroine’s genitalia afterwards as a cliche?
Another disappointment was the villain. He started out as an interesting character, but soon stumbled down the socio-path, killing whoever dared to get in his way. This was a common problem throughout the book with the main characters – they were not consistent with their original portrayal. It’s too bad, because with a little more thought put into characterization, this book could have been quite good. As it is, Crown of Glory falls short of average.