For Dorritt Kilbride, her mother, and her younger sister Jewell, a comfortable and affluent life in New Orleans high society is about to come to an end when a deceitful, irresponsible stepfather forces them to relocate to the untamed Spanish colony of Texas.
The Desires of Her Heart by Lyn Cote is the first novel in the Texas: Star of Destiny trilogy. This inspirational historical romance depicts the life of an independent, beautiful heroine as she and her family leave New Orleans and travel across the Sabine River into Nacogdoches in an attempt to settle in Austin, Texas. The family’s hope is to obtain free land under Moses and Stephen Austin’s agreement with the Spanish Crown to bring 300 Anglo-American families into Texas.
But Dorritt isn’t too keen on the idea going in. “I know we were close to ruin, but Texas? Why Texas?” she pleads with her stepfather, who has squandered the family’s fortune in a horse race.
The terrain of Texas in 1821 is replete with grave danger. In the middle of their expedition into the new territory, there is news of Mexico breaking away and gaining independence from Spain. Texas falls into a transitional state. Armed Spanish and Mexican troops monitor every suspicious movement by the American settlers. The Comanches are equally hostile. Despite great animosity and a past secret that stands between them, Mr. Kilbride hires Quinn, a “half-breed” frontier man, to be the family’s guide in order to survive the perilous journey.
Dorritt and Quinn work together to lead the family and a caravan of slaves and laborers into the new land. Along the way, their friendship develops into love. But social and racial tensions often keep them apart.
A finalist for the RITA, the Romance Writers of America's (RWA) highest award and the American Christian Fiction Writer's Carol Award in 2010, Lyn is a writer of exceptional creativity – a quality that shines in this novel, as in many of her books. She skillfully and seamlessly weaves an exciting story of adventure, mystery, and romance into her main plot and subplot. The story moves forward quickly, from one adventure to another from the beginning to the last page. The suspense in the well-crafted subplot held my interest throughout the book.
Except for the all-evil and controlling Mr. Kilbride, the characters in this book transform nicely and gradually, making the story realistic. New, multicultural characters are introduced as the plot unfolds. I was intrigued by a mysterious elderly Mexican lady who appears out of nowhere, and a mild-mannered vaquero whose motive in joining the party is unclear.
What I find most impressive about this fiction are the heroine’s faith, courage, and determination to be free from her stepfather. Dorritt continually depends on God’s guidance and wisdom during her journey no matter what comes her way. The readers will find themselves rooting for this spirited heroine. Will Dorritt and her slave friend Reva find freedom in Texas? Will God answer prayers and give them the desires of their hearts?
The author includes a historical note and discussion questions at the end of the book. This extra section is helpful in understanding Texas history. What it lacks is a map of Texas highlighting the trail that the party takes and information on some of the places they visit. The ending of the book is a bit abrupt. An important action takes place but we don’t know for certain what the outcome of that action is and exactly what happens to one lead character of the story. Perhaps this will be explained later in Her Inheritance Forever, the second book of the series.
I encourage you to check out this authentic novel to read and be transported into a different era in American history—before Texas became the Republic of Texas in 1836 and an American state in 1845. Make sure that you have plenty of time to savor the book in one sitting, and hold on to your wagon seat! This novel is a delightful retreat from a busy world of work and daily activities.
About the Author
Sukalaya Kenworthy is a senior library assistant at the Westport Branch. To join the Inspirational Book Group, e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 816.701.3488 for more information. The group meets the third Wednesday of the month at 4:30 p.m.