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 the squatters damage a barn, 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 who’s survived a terrible past. He needs more than just his freedom, he needs her love and care too.
Right off the bat I do want to admit that I haven’t read the first book in this series, but I wasn’t lost at all with this book.
But onto this book – I loved it. When I started reading it, I was worried that it would be a slow read for me, but I was so drawn into the story that I couldn’t put it down. I just had to find out what was going on at Laurel’s ranch, and how Thomas was going to help her solve those problems. Not only that but following along as the romance between Laurel and Thomas grew from a simple friendly gesture into something more was just amazing.
Shepard Gray did a great job at balancing the romance aspect and the drama/suspense aspects of the story throughout the whole book. I didn’t feel at all like the story was being moved by only one of those aspects, it was all of them together that made the story so great.
I would completely recommend this book to anyone who loves this genre and is looking for their next great read.