Texas Trilogy, Book 2
Heat Factor: Sexy, but not too explicit
Character Chemistry: OMG, have a conversation already
Plot Development: Hinges on the birth of a son
Overall: So sappy. Useful for when you want a nice, cathartic, sob-fest.
For this week’s edition of #ThrowBackThursday, we’re heading to 1998. While I am not (yet) an expert on the entire history of the development of the romance novel (I’m working on it, y’all), I suspect, based on what research (ie, reading lots of smut) that I have done, that the 90s brought about a significant shift in genre conventions. Granted, comparing only two books is a terrible sample size, but looking at Lorraine Heath’s Texas Glory in contrast to my last (ok, also first) #TBT review – Patricia Pellican’s 1993 Nights of Fire, for those who missed it – shows a decided change in the genre over time, particularly in the actions of the hero. Texas Glory is not fully Old School.
On the other hand, both heroes have Very Sexy Mustaches, so….
Dallas, the owner of said Very Sexy Mustache is the oldest Leigh brother. (Yes, this is a Texas trilogy, and yes, his name is Dallas. His brothers are Houston and Austin and I wish I were kidding.) Dallas has built an empire. He has a huge ranch and is building a town, but something is missing. He wants a son, so he can pass his empire on to someone else. Too bad there is a serious dearth of marriageable women. (Presumably, there are prostitutes, but we don’t hear about them.)
Enter Cordelia, who has been kept “protected” by her father and brothers, who also happen to be feuding with Dallas over land rights and water access. To solve the dispute, the men agree that in exchange for Cordelia marrying Dallas, Dallas will give her brothers access to the river, and then deed some land over to them once a son is born. Cordelia has no say in the matter.
Thus begins a marriage. Cordelia is TERRIFIED of her new husband, for several reasons:
- She has been extremely sheltered; after years of being housebound caring for her paralyzed mother, she hasn’t learned how to live a normal life.
- Her family friggin HATES Dallas, so has been bad-mouthing (read: lying about) him for years.
- Have I mentioned she is sheltered? She has never been to town. She barely goes outside. She thinks she’s not allowed to go pick flowers by herself.
- Oh, and as a bonus, when she was a child, she saw her parents having sex and was completely traumatized and had her father swear he wouldn’t make her do that with a man ever.
So. Great start to a marriage here, especially since Dallas is a former soldier who keeps saying he doesn’t have a way with words and is admittedly sort of gruff.
However, Dallas is an Ideal Romantic Hero, so he is super understanding. He does things like leave flowers for her but not say anything about it. He does not consummate the marriage right away, because she should have a choice about something. He finds ways to bring her out of her shell – he teaches her to ride and gets her involved in the development of the town (over the objections of various misogynists). In other words: Dallas quietly woos his wife without beating her over the head with his attentions. He champions her efforts to assert herself without inserting himself into her moments of glory.
It seems that all of Dallas’ amazing efforts have been for naught, because she still won’t sleep with him, but then… suddenly, they are in LOVE! Cordelia is no longer afraid because her husband is exasperated. Dallas is no longer exasperated because his wife is afraid. This is a weak point, because I’m not sure when or how that happened. Like, Dallas is being awesome, but Cordelia gives everyone but him the credit. And Cordelia is pretty and has a nice smile and starting to show that she’s smart, so Dallas learns that he wants more than a son. I guess? Whatever, I’ll go with it.
Now, the only problem is that they both think the love is unrequited.
There is so much lack of communication in this book. They both care about each other so much and are trying to spare each others’ feelings that they have all kinds of moments where they end up acting in ways that make neither party happy.
The general plot of the book, post marriage is: he wants a son. She thinks giving him a son will make him love her. She gets pregnant, but then loses the baby in a horrible accident. Thinks that she can never have a baby, so decides to leave him. Villains conveniently intervene (but also in a terrible, traumatic way), and he saves her at great risk to himself. They finally figure out their love is mutual. So, basically, the first half of the book is a nice, slow, getting-to-know-your-spouse budding romance. The second half is a good old bonkers let’s-get-some-cowboys-to-do-some-kidnapping romance!
Speaking of villainous cowboy kidnappers – there are no shades of grey here. The villains are SO EVIL. They have no redeeming characteristics. Like, not only are they land-grabbing lunkheads who lie, cheat, steal, and kidnap, but they also come with a side of rape and hurting people for fun. The flip side is that the protagonists are therefore impossibly good.
TL;DR: What we’ve got here is a story with a bit of Old School bonkers, but also some solid 90s feminist empowerment. Cordelia starts as a doormat, but she doesn’t end as one.
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