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Texas Splendor by Lorraine Heath
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Texas Splendor (edition 1999)

by Lorraine Heath

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914132,676 (4.02)4
Member:ktleyed
Title:Texas Splendor
Authors:Lorraine Heath
Info:Signet (1999), Mass Market Paperback, 320 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****1/2
Tags:2012, kindle, historical romance, Victorian, Western, fav

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Texas Splendor by Lorraine Heath

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Showing 4 of 4
All right. Austin's story.

I'm not spoiling anything you don't find out right away, but I was fairly shocked that Becky was married when Austin got out of jail. And I was REALLY shocked at who she'd married. And that they already had a little baby...

I was really really surprised at how Loree and Austin hook up... and was a little confused by how Austin thought he would EVER find out who killed Boyd by going to Austin (the city this time, not the guy). But whatever.

This story was more of a mystery... with both Austin's quest to find Boyd's killer AND trying to figure out what the heck happened to Loree's family. But it all get resolved... and in a way I CERTAINLY didn't expect... well.... no, that's not true. I figured out what was happening... I kept going, "OH MY GOSH!!! [SO-AND-SO] KILLED BOYD!!!" and my mom was like, "Be quiet--I'm trying to sleep!" because we were in a hotel room in Utah...

So yes, really good book. :) ( )
  saraferrell | Apr 3, 2013 |
Texas Splendor
4 Stars

Synopsis:
Convicted of a crime he did not commit, Austin Leigh returns home only to discover that the girl he went to prison to protect has married his best friend. Hurt and confused, Austin sets out to clear his name and encounters a courageous young girl with a mysterious tragedy in her past. As the two grow closer, secrets are revealed that may endanger the precious yet fragile love that has brought them together.

Review:
Such a sweet ending to the series.

Loree is an amazing and loving heroine with a past so tragic and tortured that it boggles the mind how she managed to overcome it so successfully. She is the perfect match for Austin who has suffered his fair share of tragedy and the way in which their relationship develops so slowly, softly and sweetly is the highlight of the book.

In terms of the secondary characters, it was fascinating to see the dynamic between the Leigh brothers, their wives and children. I am a little disappointed that Riley isn't getting his own book and hope that Heath may eventually write it. With regard to Becky's character, to be perfectly honest, she always rubbed me the wrong way and I was pleased to learn that she is not the heroine in the book. Moreover, Becky and Cameron get off a little too lightly for their betrayal in my opinion.

The surprise twist is good but a little to obvious and easy to figure out once all the clues are laid out. Nevertheless, it is a clever way of providing closure to the story.

Overall. a highly entertaining series in general and this book is an excellent conclusion. Looking forwarding to reading more of Heath's books. ( )
  Lauren2013 | Apr 2, 2013 |
I loved this finale to the Leigh Brothers trilogy. Austin, coming out of prison of five years, is out to find out who really killed the man he was imprisoned for killing. He comes across a lone woman, Loree Grant, who is living alone in the woods near Austin, Texas. She nurses him back to health after a stab wound and their is a gradual understanding that develops between the two. Coincidentally, she has a secret that can greatly affect his life. Her past story and the truth of what happened to her family is horrible, one of the worst I've come across in a romance. Typical of this series, for Lorraine Heath is a master at drawing out emotion that comes from past tragedies. Despite this, it is a beautiful poignant story of two lonely people that come together and find love in a forced marriage scenario. It's a great story and an even greater series that is probably one of the best I've read. It's filled with tons of emotion and heartache, but so worth it. When the couples involved finally find what they need after the turmoil they've gone through to get there, it's so sweet. Highly recommended. ( )
  ktleyed | Dec 31, 2012 |
Rarely have I found an author who is able to write a complete series with every book in the series being consistently good enough to earn keeper status from me, but Lorraine Heath's Texas Trilogy did exactly that. It is also equally rare for an author to tug at my heartstrings in quite the way that Lorraine Heath does, but somehow her stories always manage to make me teary-eyed more than once along the way. Texas Splendor was no exception. It is an emotionally complex tale about how things don't always turn out the way we might expect, but something better may be waiting about the bend; about how even our greatest pain and biggest mistakes can turn into something good; about how people's destinies can be intertwined in truly unexpected ways; about dreams lost and found again; and about forgiveness of something that a first glance may seem unforgivable. As with the other books in the series, Lorraine Heath delves deeply into her characters feelings and motivations, making them very relatable and sympathetic. She also has a way with building an emotional connection and exquisite sexual tension between the hero and heroine. For once, I didn't mind this couple making love right after meeting, because the author made it all about them offering mutual comfort during an extremely vulnerable and lonely time for both of them, and didn't have them declaring their love for one another immediately afterward. Although they were both deeply affected by the experience, they were also quite realistic in their expectations and were mature enough to understand that love had nothing to do with it at that moment. In fact, Austin made a stupid mistake in the heat of passion, which caused friction between them that lasted even for a while after they're married. Also, the whole experience brought them closer together when they otherwise probably would have parted ways. I really appreciate Ms. Heath's ability to backtrack after a moment of passion like Austin and Loree shared and then slowly build a real, lasting, and believable love relationship between them.

After seeing Austin as a major secondary character in his brothers' stories, I knew that he was going to be a gentle beta hero like Houston, but still with his own personality and set of talents. Spending five years in prison for a crime he didn't commit hardened Austin, but not enough to make him mean or hateful. That just wasn't in his nature. Even though he was a changed man, I was still able to see glimmers of the boy/young man I came to love so much in the previous books. Austin has always craved a female presence in his life ever since his mother died when he was a little boy, and I think this side of him became a protector to all the women who became a part of his life. In fact, it was his desire to protect the reputation of the woman he loved which landed him in prison in the first place, and when Loree finally divulges her secret, Austin was prepared to once again take the blame in order to protect her too. Although his brother, Dallas, had a hard time seeing Austin as anything but an irresponsible kid, I think that Austin proved his deep sense of responsibility many times over. He is also incredibly sweet to Loree. I loved how he always called her Sugar, and the way he often took her shoes and stockings off to rub her feet and make her more comfortable could be both cute and sexy at the same time. Austin was definitely the type of guy who could make a woman feel pampered and cherished. While he wasn't quite a virgin when he met Loree, he was very much a sexual novice, which just added to his appeal for me. I think the best thing about Austin though, was his amazing musical talent. The horrors of prison had quieted the music within his soul, and the moment he rediscovered it again was so incredibly beautiful, it brought tears to my eyes.

Loree is a strong heroine who was the sole survivor of a brutal, murderous attack which left the rest of her family dead. This event drove her do something she is not proud of, and she harbors this dark secret throughout most of the book. I have to admit that I correctly guessed what it was early on, but this knowledge did not diminish my enjoyment of the story, mainly because it was not so much about the mystery as about how Loree's secret affects her marriage to Austin both before and after it comes out. Because of what she did, Loree also doesn't feel like she deserves Austin's love or to realize any of her dreams. When Austin finds her, she is basically punishing herself, but her self-recrimination isn't overdone. Loree still longs for her dreams very much, and does reach out to grasp some happiness when the opportunity presents itself. Her experiences also make her accepting of Austin and his past in a way that others are not, and eventually, she very bravely admitted her secret and faced the consequences. In her heart, Loree was a kind and gentle person who was driven to do something uncharacteristic because of extraordinary circumstances which was something I found to be very thought provoking.

I love the family saga feel of the Texas Trilogy. All three of the Leigh brothers as well as their wives and families play substantial roles that are interlaced throughout each of the books. It was wonderful to visit with all of them again and see them so involved in each others' lives. Houston and Amelia still have a slight edge as my favorite couple, and it was so much fun to meet their kids and see how their lives have changed. Dallas is still as stubborn as ever, sometimes irritating, yet sometimes making me laugh. It was rather funny when Austin punched him for the exact same thing Houston did in the first book, which goes to show that he apparently didn't learn his lesson, although he was big enough to admit that he'd made a mistake. Dee has come a long way from the timid woman she was in the beginning of book #2, and has expanded Dallas's vision of the town of Leighton to the point that it has almost become a character unto itself. Rawley and the other kids are growing like weeds and really developing their personalities. Becky and Cameron, Austin's first love and best friend respectively, played a big role too. They are definitely at odds with Austin when he returns from prison, because he feels that they betrayed him in the worst possible way. The beauty in the author's portrayal of these characters was that I understood how all three of them felt, Austin being angry because Becky didn't wait for him like she promised, and Becky and Cameron loving each other but feeling guilty for it. In spite of all that had happened between them, I couldn't help but want them to still be friends, and when the reconciliation happens, it was yet another beautiful moment. I also have to say that I loved the nice long epilogue that brought everyone back together a decade in the future, letting me see that this family is still strong and the next generation will definitely carry on the legacy started by the three Leigh brothers.

Overall, I think Texas Splendor may have been the most emotionally charged book of the trilogy, and that's saying quite a lot since the other two were very emotional as well, especially Texas Destiny. I think this may be owing to Austin being so much more demonstrative in his feelings than the other two brothers were. Also, both Austin and Loree are two very tortured souls who must find healing for their battered hearts, and they are quite observant, sensitive and intuitive of the others' needs and understanding of things that happened in their pasts, which only added to the intensity of the romance. My one and only minor complaint is that I've noticed the author has a tendency to repeat certain words and phrases, but although noticeable, it didn't really detract from my overall enjoyment of the book. Ms. Heath is extremely talented at bringing to life complex character-driven plots which really make me think in a deep and profound way and thoroughly satisfies me on an emotional level, and in doing so she also creates flawed but extremely likable characters who I find myself wishing existed in real life. Texas Splendor is book #3 in the Texas Trilogy, preceded by Texas Destiny and Texas Glory. As I predicted in my review of Texas Glory, I'm happy to know how things turned out for this family, but equally sad to let them go. These three books have certainly earned a permanent spot on my keeper shelf, and I hope to revisit them at some point in the future. In the meantime, I look forward to continuing my exploration of Lorraine Heath's back-list. ( )
  mom2lnb | Jan 11, 2012 |
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For my dear niece Terri

The roads we travel in our youth are seldom smooth. You traveled a difficult road. When you could have turned back, you forged ahead with courage.

May all your future journeys lead you down roads paved with gold.
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Moments stolen...never to be regained.
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Five years in prison for a crime he didn't commit -- that's how long Austin Leigh has waited to clear his name, and to be reunited with his beloved Becky. But when he is finally released, Becky is married to another. Now Austin is determined to find the killer who destroyed his life and ruined his one chance for love. He is searching for justice -- and for revenge. But what he discovers along the way is something quite different. Her name is Loree Grant, and she's survived tragedy of her own. She is the kind of friend that Austin has never had, a true companion on the long road to forgiveness and redemption. And as Austin slowly bares his soul to this strong and beautiful woman, he begins to open his heart...to love.
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