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.
Laurel Tracey is fighting a seemingly losing battle a few years after the Civil War. Her step-father had left his ranch to her, but having no one but her lazy step-siblings who don’t help her, she rapidly realizes she may lose everything.
Thomas Baker is a former Confederate soldier, and just a little bit hot headed, creating more problems than results for himself. One problem he creates lands him in jail. Hoping to be freed under a labor purchase program at the local jail, he submits to being caged in the hot sun and scrutinized by the citizens of the area, never dreaming a beautiful woman would free him.
Told from the perspective of both Thomas, by employing flashbacks, and Lauren, we learn a lot about both characters.
I enjoyed this story very much. Laurel and Thomas are hurt, lost souls that are having a hard time seeing their own worth. Both have some deep-seated issues to work through, and being forced to work together every day helps to compel them towards facing and resolving their difficulties. However, they both come across as likable and hardworking, with fun and engaging personalities.
An Uncommon Protector, by Shelley Shepard Gray, is the second novel in A Lone Star Hero’s Love Story, but it works well as a standalone tale.
I received this book free through the Fiction Guild program in exchange for an honest review.