Mass Market Paperback, 384 pages
Published June 1st 1997
Arriving on the Fort Worth train, Miss Amelia Carson, mail-order bride, had never met Dallas Leigh, the Texan she promised to marry. The tall cowboy at the station wasn't Dallas. He was Houston, Dallas's brother, sent to escort her on the rugged three-week trek to the ranch where Dallas waited. Brought up in war-ravaged Georgia, Amelia thought Dallas's letters made Texas sound like heaven, a place for her dreams to grow with the right man beside her.
And his only love...
By all appearances, Houston Leigh would hardly be considered the "right man." The war he survived had scarred him inside and out, and he was little competition for his handsome brother. But from the moment Houston met Amelia, he knew she possessed the courage this wild land needed. She had eyes that could see past his wounded face to his soul. And he would fight any man—except his brother—for her heart. Now he and Amelia were riding down dangerous trails, sleeping under the stars, and God help them, they were falling in love.
I really enjoyed this read. I added to my to be read shelf goodness knows how long ago. That shelf has a ridiculous amount of books on it, but I hope to one day get to them all. I needed a change in my romance reads and this fit the bill. I loved that it was a true romance--all story and emotion.
Houston: I've a soft spot for sensitive heroes who have suffered a terrible trauma. Houston's past, his small opinion of himself, his stilted relationship with his brother made me cry. Unexpected tears just wrung from me. I loved that even while what he did was wrong and unfair to himself and Amelia that he was a man who was to true to his understanding of his life, of himself. He was so incredibly hard on himself, thinking Amelia didn't deserve someone like him. Because he didn't respect himself, he couldn't face claiming Amelia. He actually let her marry his brother. I think I died a little in that chapter. I was all OMG she is marrying the wrong brother!! And how the hell do you get out of that in 1876 Texas? But I was never angry or sorry for Houston. He wasn't the sort of man you could be sorry for. I guess it was because I knew he had too much heart, that he'd keep going somehow--and also because I trusted the gods of romance for a HEA.
Amelia: I loved how centered her character was. This woman really knew her own mind and she learned to read others quickly. She had nerve, picking up her life--such as it was--and deciding to move to Texas to marry a man she'd never met. This mail order bride premise sounds a bit ludicrous I'll admit but Amelia wasn't hardly a giddy girl seeking adventure or a hard headed sort of woman. She wasn't at all the sort of woman I'd expect this action from, but it made sense and she had the strength to take destiny into her own hands with Dallas. She never expected to fall in love with Houston however, and once she was, she knew her life with Dallas would good, but not enough. Dallas was a good man. He just wasn't Houston. So why does she marry him anyway? I think at that point she was hoping Houston would act on his feelings.
Luckily, romancelandia delivers HEAs in unexpected, yet credible ways. A few horse thieves, a rescue, a heart to heart with Dallas and Houston and viola! HEA delivered. The story was just as much about Houston and Dallas coming to terms with their war wounds and the lack of a proper father, as it was about Houston and Amelia's romance and that's why it worked so beautifully.
5 glittering stars