Texas Destiny - Lorraine Heath How do I begin to describe such a beautiful story as TEXAS DESTINY? I could talk about the post civil war Texas setting and describe the mail order bride plot but that doesn't even begin to touch on the emotional impact of Ms. Heath's newest work. This book touched me from beginning to end and is a book I'll always treasure. It's also the first of a trilogy. Woo-hoo!

Houston Leigh's brother Dallas has broken his leg and is unable to make the trip to pick up his mail order bride-to-be Amelia Carson. Houston has hideous facial scarring on one side of his handsome face and has lived his adult life hiding in shadows and covering his face with his hat. He has shunned human contact and feels most content in the company of his horses. Because of his scars and less than charming personality Dallas feels it's safe to assume his new bride won't fall for his brother during the three week trek.

Amelia is disappointed that she has to spend three weeks with her fiancé's grouchy brother but tries to make the best out of her situation by trying to engage him in conversation. She bugs him with irritating questions he doesn't want to answer and eventually she gets under his skin. Although it scares him he slowly opens up to her and they form a hesitant friendship which gets stronger as the days pass and they reveal bits of themselves to each other. Both of their lives have been shattered by the war and they've both dealt with it differently. He has given up on his dreams and withdrawn from the world while she is the eternal optimist finding something to be grateful for in every situation. She looks at her future with joy anxiously biding her time when she can turn her dreams into reality. She even manages to find a dream for Houston to believe in but they despair because she is promised to his brother . . .

The hurting and lovable characters are what make this story so memorable. In the majority of romances I've read one character usually really comes alive while the other gets the short shrift. That's so not so in this case! I loved the heroine as much as the hero in TEXAS DESTINY. She's a woman who has seen the worst life has to offer but hasn't been beaten down by it. Her optimism and willingness to embrace life is refreshing and believable. And Houston . . . he's my favorite kind of hero. He's a wounded soul, with lots of integrity, he's serious, heroic, and best of all he's sensitive. He's been dealt a raw deal by life and really needs a hug. This story is extremely realistic for instance there is no witty banter during their first few days together but instead there are lots of awkward attempts at conversation and long silences. Houston's makes several desperate attempts to come up with words to charm Amelia but always ends fails. These little touches are what make the couple so endearing.

I know many readers avoid the Civil War period but this book is less about the war and more about the healing of two people who as children had to bear witness to human nature's darkest side. But don't think it's all darkness and pain! The book is filled with so many tender moments my eyes were stinging and there is a quiet wit that made me smile. The longing, the soft caresses, the hot kisses, the despair and the impossible love these two share made my heart ache but somehow they always managed to maintain their senses of humor. The sense of place is done so well I felt like I was living the story. I stayed up late reading with a flashlight until 12am last night because I just didn't want to put this book down. This is very rare for me since I get up at 5am! I'm a zombie today but boy was it ever worth it