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.
This is the second of the Lone Star Hero Love Stories series by Shelley Shepard Gray. Since I didn’t immediately recognize Thomas Baker’s name, I wondered if any of the characters from The Loyal Heart would feature in it.
Laurel Tracey is in a bind. She’s inherited her father’s ranch, but there’s no one to assist her other than her obnoxious step-siblings. They’ve long squandered their own inheritance and now want what doesn’t legally belong to them. Her persistent neighbor doesn’t believe she can manage the land, but hasn’t taken well her rejection of his courtship. So, she takes a leap of faith and hires Thomas who is determined to discover who’s threatening her. And he happens to have friends who can help.
An Uncommon Protector takes place shortly after the events in The Loyal Heart, the first book in the Lone Star Hero Love Stories series. As with that book, this novel opens with a scene on Johnson’s Island during the Civil War. There are also frequent flashbacks to Thomas’s time at the POW camp. I found it an easy read and worked out the villain’s identity almost immediately, although I did have a backup suspect in case I was wrong! Although the heroes ride away in the sunset at the end, there are hints of possible stories to come in the series and it looks like we only have to wait until October to learn what those stories are.
Thank you to Zondervan, BookLook Bloggers, and the Fiction Guild for my complimentary copy of An Uncommon Protector, which I received in exchange for my honest review.
Have you read An Uncommon Protector? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.
Publisher: Zondervan (A division of HarperCollins Christian)
Publication Date: 07 February 2017
Page Count: 320