Overwhelmed by the responsibilities of running a ranch on her own, Laurel Tracey decides to hire a convict—a man who’s just scary enough to take care of squatters and just desperate enough to agree to a one-year post.
The years following the war have been hard on Laurel Tracey. Both her brother and her father died in battle, and her mother passed away shortly after receiving word of their demise. Laurel has been trying to run her two hundred acre ranch as best she can.
When she discovers that squatters have settled in her north pasture and have no intention of leaving, Laurel decides to use the last of her money to free a prisoner from the local jail. If she agrees to offer him room and board for one year, he will have to work for her to pay off his debt.
Former soldier Thomas Baker knows he’s in trouble when he finds himself jailed because he couldn’t pay a few fines. Laurel’s offer might be his only ticket out. Though she’s everything he ever dreamed of in a woman—sweet and tender-hearted, yet strong—he’s determined to remain detached, work hard on her behalf, and count the days until he’s free again.
But when cattle start dying and Laurel’s life is threatened, Thomas realizes more than just his freedom is on the line. Laurel needs someone to believe in her and protect her property. And it isn’t long before Laurel realizes that Thomas Baker is far more than just a former soldier. He’s a trustworthy hero, and he needs more than just his freedom—he needs her love and care too.
**I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.**
First of all, I’m loving this new series from Shelley Shepard Gray. If you haven’t heard about it, the series follows a group of men who were imprisoned together during the Civil War. Each book follows one of them in their lives after the war. Most of the book is told in the present with a few flashbacks to that time they were imprisoned.
Anyways, for this particular book, I was immediately drawn to the characters. Both Thomas and Laurel have so many things stacked against them. Thomas has had a harder life and the novel starts out with him in prison. He’s a good guy, and you can’t help but like him. But he’s certainly an unlikely hero in so many ways. Laurel is a lone woman, with unhelpful step-siblings and a ranch with problems. But together, they can make a team to help Laurel’s ranch become profitable again.
There was just something about this book that drew me in. I loved reading it. While it wasn’t as tension-filled as some other books, I certainly wanted to keep reading. Perhaps it was just the sheer enjoyment of spending time with these characters. But by the end, I wasn’t complaining. And having to revisit with some of the other soldiers from Thomas’s past, I’m interested to see who will get a story next.
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