An Uncommon Protector, by Shelley Shepard Gray

Publisher’s Overview:

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.

First Thoughts:

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.

My Take:

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.

Excerpt

Publisher: Zondervan (A division of HarperCollins Christian)

Publication Date: 07 February 2017

Page Count: 320

Read more on:   Shelley Shepard Gray’s Website   Zondervan’s Website

Purchase on:   Amazon   Barnes & Noble   Books-a-million   Christianbook.com

My Heart Belongs in Fort Bliss, Texas, by Erica Vetsch

book coverPublisher’s Overview:

Journey now to Fort Bliss in West Texas of 1874, where…
A Battle Is About to be Waged Between Two Hearts.

Fashion artist Priscilla Hutchens has a grudge against the army that has ruined her family and taken the people she holds most dear. When her twin niece and nephew are left orphaned at Fort Bliss, Texas, she swoops down on Fort Bliss to gain custody of them immediately.

There is just one thing standing in the way—Post surgeon Major Elliot Ryder, who is also the twins uncle, also claims the children and thinks he knows what is best for them.

Priscilla and Elliot will cross swords, but each will have to lay down arms if they are to find a lasting peace on which to form the family both are longing for.  Who will win the battle? Or will a truce be called for the sake of love and family?

First Thoughts:

Sometimes, I just want to get lost in an historical romance…

My Take:

Barbour Publishing has started a new line of historical romance fiction called My Heart Belongs focusing on different locations in the USA.  In January, it started with Fort Bliss, Texas: Priscilla’s Reveille by Erica Vetsch. Priscilla is the ‘fish out of water’ stylish city woman who is completely unprepared for life on the frontier. She has one plan: to get to Fort Bliss, gain custody of her family, and then immediately take them home to civilization. The children might be loved at Fort Bliss but, as far as Priscilla is concerned, a military environment is no place for a child. Her plan takes a slight detour, however, when she’s attracted to the Major in the Military Corps who happens to be the children’s uncle.

My Heart Belongs in Fort Bliss, Texas is a cute story that’s easy to read. While it’s mostly light, there are serious times such as interactions with local Indian populations and the spread of disease throughout the fort. The physical descriptions were so good I could visualize everything. During the course of the novel, Priscilla must continuously step out of her comfort zone and, as she does so, she gradually comes to realize that home really is where the heart is.

Thank you to Barbour Publishing for my complimentary electronic copy of My Heart Belongs in Fort Bliss, Texas, which I downloaded from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

Have you read My Heart Belongs in Fort Bliss, Texas? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.

Excerpt

Publisher: Barbour Publishing

Publication Date: 01 January 2017

Page Count: 256

Read more on:   Erica Vetsch’s Website   Barbour Publishing’s Website

Purchase on:   Amazon   Barnes & Noble   Books-a-million   Christianbook.com

A Stolen Heart, by Amanda Cabot

book coverPublisher’s Overview:

The future she dreamed of is gone. But perhaps a better one awaits . . .

From afar, Cimarron Creek seems like an idyllic town tucked in the Texas Hill Country. But when former schoolteacher Lydia Crawford steps onto its dusty streets in 1880, she finds a town with a deep-seated resentment of Northerners–like her. Lydia won’t let that get her down, though. All will be well when she’s reunited with her fiancé.

But when she discovers he has disappeared–and that he left behind a pregnant wife–Lydia is at a loss about what to do next. The handsome sheriff urges her to trust him, but can she trust anyone in this town where secrets are as prevalent as bluebonnets in spring?

First Thoughts:

A Stolen Heart is the first in a new historical series by Amanda Cabot. I’ve enjoyed Cabot’s previous novels so I’m looking forward to reading this one.

My Take:

Tensions still run high in a small Texas town 15 years after the end of the Civil War and Lydia knows about it before she’s even arrived in search of her fiancé. But even though one of the town’s Confederate veterans persists in calling her the ‘Cursed Enemy,’ she soon learns the war isn’t the only cause of division. Lydia has two men vying for her attention, and two brothers are rivals for their father’s praise. She’s also accused of a rash of thefts taking place in the town, even though she’s also a victim. Her chocolate creations do much to win over the townsfolk, but could they also be responsible for murder?

There’s a nice little map of Cimarron Creek at the start of the book and I referred to it often. Since Travis (the “handsome sheriff”) has a large extended family, the included family tree also came in useful. The narrative itself is a mixture of romance and suspense. The crime story builds steadily, sharing space with the romance although playing second fiddle to it. I gradually worked out who might be responsible but the culminating scene is tense and heart pounding. I didn’t know how it would end up. Lydia is also fortunate to develop some close friendships with a variety of women, some of which are unexpected, and these help her as she comes to terms with her fiancé’s actions.

A Stolen Heart is the first title in the Cimarron Creek Trilogy. A sneak peak of book two, involving one of Lydia’s new friends, is included but it won’t be published until next year. Based on this novel, I’ll look forward to its release.

Thank you to Revell for my complimentary copy of A Stolen Heart, which I received in exchange for my honest review.

Have you read A Stolen Heart? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.

Excerpt

Publisher: Revell (a division of Baker Publishing)

Publication Date: 14 March 2017

Page Count: 352

Read more on:   Amanda Cabot’s Website   Revell’s Website

Purchase on:   Amazon   Barnes & Noble   Books-a-million   Christianbook.com