Dallas Leigh is a man who belongs to the land. He built his Texas ranching empire from the ground up and now wants nothing more than to have a son to share it with. After his mail-order bride fell in love with his brother instead, Dallas was left alone for five years, trying to attract women to move to his new town but without much success. Dallas now finds himself in a long-term and occasionally violent dispute over land and water rights with one of his neighbors. When Dallas discovers that the family has a daughter of marriageable age, he makes a deal with her father to take her as his bride in exchange for allowing their cattle access to his water.
Cordelia McQueen has led an extremely sheltered life, initially because of caring for her ailing mother, but when Cordelia's mother died, her father and brothers rarely ever allowed her to leave the ranch. Instead she spent her days in her room with only her beloved books for company and longing for a freedom she cannot quite fathom. When her father tells her that she will be marrying one of the hated Leigh brothers, Cordelia is frightened to death, but puts on a brave face and goes through with it for the sake of her family. Once she becomes Dallas's wife, Cordelia slowly begins to see a side of him that makes her wonder if all the horrible things her family had said about him were wrong. Dallas gives Cordelia the independence she has always craved, and she in turn helps him to build his empire even stronger by bringing a fresh perspective to his business. Even still, it will take a long time for Dallas to earn Cordelia's trust, and once he does, a terrible tragedy may deny Dallas his heart's desire and keep them from ever being able to fully express the love that has now blossomed between them.
I ended up having a difficult time rating Texas Glory, because I really enjoyed almost everything about the story, but was rather frustrated by one element. As with her other books that I've read, Lorraine Heath once again showed her masterful understanding of the human psyche by creating relatable characters and taking them on a believable journey of self-discovery. The road that takes them there is not always perfect and filled with bliss. The author makes her characters go through some heartache along the way too, which helps them to grow and change in a positive way. In the end, I felt like everything was perfect, even the bad stuff, because it all happened for a good reason. In this way, Ms. Heath manages to bring an amazing amount of depth to both her characters and her stories, making them a joy for me to read. The one and only thing that bothered me about the book, is how distant Dallas and Cordelia are from each other pretty much right up until the end. The previous book in the series, Texas Destiny, had this intense and vibrant romantic quality to it that was brought about through the personalities of the hero and heroine and how they interacted with each other. Dallas and Cordelia are just two very different characters whose personalities didn't really lend themselves to that more swoon-worthy quality. Even during their more romantic moments, it still felt like there was a barrier between them, making it difficult to feel that really deep connection. Both could be head-strong, stubborn and pretty clueless, especially Dallas. This led to a lot of misunderstandings and miscommunication that didn't get resolved until it was nearly too late, and it caused them to not be able to fully embrace their love for one another until the end. Normally this would drive me crazy in a romance novel, but I found myself being a little more forgiving of it in this book. I think it was mainly due to the author allowing the reader into Dallas and Cordelia's thoughts and feelings, so that I could understand them even though I still wanted to shake some sense into them at times. They would frequently think of the "right" thing to say or do, but then for various reasons wouldn't, which left me thinking, "just say it" or "just do it." Overall, I really liked Dallas and Cordelia's story, but without that more intense romantic element, it felt like a little something was missing.
Considering that Dallas had a 13-year misunderstanding with his brother, Houston, in Texas Destiny that was mainly due to fear and a lack of communication, I'm not too surprised that he had so many misunderstandings with his new bride. Dallas just doesn't truly know how to communicate with people and simply ask for things. He only knows how to give orders, which was something he learned from his father and his time as a teenage officer in the Civil War, trying to earn the respect of his soldiers. In the beginning, Dallas is so straight-froward he scares Cordelia, which makes him mad at himself and the situation. Then that anger came out directed at Dee, which make him even madder, creating a never-ending cycle. Dallas is a rather gruff, intense, and clueless alpha who stubbornly insists that he doesn't need love and the only thing missing from his life is a son to share his empire with. Usually guys who are this alpha end up annoying me, but Dallas actually made me laugh sometimes because he honestly didn't initially recognize the feelings he's having for Dee as love. It was pretty fun watching him try to figure it all out. While Dallas could be a little irritating sometimes, it was clear that underneath it all he had a heart of gold and was an honorable man who could be trusted at his word. He was also good with kids, playing the doting uncle to his niece, Maggie, and later, a father-figure to the little street urchin, Rawley. Dallas may have been a hard man, but he was also a fair man and one I could easily respect especially as he started to grow.
At the start of the story, Cordelia has been so sheltered by her father and brothers, it has gone beyond mere protection into the realm of mental and emotional abuse. She is a virtual prisoner in her own home until her father barters her away to Dallas in exchange for land and water rights over which the two families have been fighting for years. Dee comes to the marriage a timid shell of a woman who hides away in her room, preferring to escape into a book. She is frightened to death of Dallas, because of all the terrible things her family has said about him. As she observes him interacting with his family, she begins to wonder if her father and brothers were wrong about him. When Dallas realizes that he should have courted Dee and given her a choice in marrying him instead of trading for her, he becomes extremely patient, giving her time to get accustomed to him and being married. He also gives her the freedom that she had always longed for, and listens to her ideas, doing everything he can to support her and bring them to fruition. Dee ends up being the perfect mate for Dallas, because underneath her shy exterior lurks the heart of a lion and a savvy businesswoman who compliments him in every way. I loved how she stood up to her family when she finally realized who the better man really was.
Texas Glory had a great cast of secondary characters. I really enjoy the family closeness of this series, and how the other Leigh brothers have significant supporting roles and aren't just window dressing. Houston and Amelia (Texas Destiny) were back along with a new addition to the their family, little Maggie who was as cute as a button. I had wished for an epilogue at the end of Texas Destiny, but everything I needed to know about them was revealed in this book. It was wonderful to see them still so passionately in love. Austin (Texas Splendor) is in this one too, and his was a heart-breaking ending which makes me very eager to read his story soon. It was great to see Houston, Amelia and Austin picking up the slack to make Cordelia feel at home until Dallas got a clue about how to put his bride at ease, and it was hilarious to see Dallas jealous of Houston and Austin but too bewildered to understand why. The abused little boy, Rawley Cooper, touched my heart and brought tears to my eyes. I was so glad to see him find some peace and happiness after experiencing so much grief and heartache in his young life. Precious, the prairie dog that Cordelia made her pet, was hysterical mainly because of the reactions she evoked in Dallas. Of course there was Dee's family too, but only her brother, Cameron, was truly worthy of any attention. The rest were worthless weasels (and that's putting it nicely), along with Rawley's father, all of whom made some pretty nasty villains. Since Dallas had finally realized the dream of building a town in west Texas, there were plenty of colorful townsfolk too. All in all a great cast of characters that really brought the story to life.
Since Cordelia spent a lot of time afraid of Dallas, and Dallas spent a lot of time being clueless, theirs was not a grand passionate romance in the traditional sense, but there were plenty of sweet, touching moments to keep me reading and mostly satisfied. Their relationship was a more realistic one of two strangers coming together, slowly learning about each other, and then falling in love. It is also about two people who really needed to find themselves in order to be happy together, and in Dallas's case, he had to discover what was truly important in life, as well as learn that what he thought he wanted and needed to feel complete wasn't what he really needed at all. There were a few events in the story that were somewhat predictable including a very sad tragedy, but as I also correctly foresaw it was a necessary catalyst to give Dallas a wake-up call and led to many positive things happening later on. In spite of some frustrations with Dallas and Cordelia's stubborn natures, I found Texas Glory to be a tale with plenty of thought-provoking, emotional depth and complex characterizations that made it an enjoyable read, and ultimately, I decided it was worthy of being placed on my keeper shelf right next to its predecessor, Texas Destiny. I can't wait to read the final book of the trilogy, Texas Splendor, but once I do, I think I'll be a little sad to let his wonderful band of brothers go.
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