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.
SERIES: Lone Star Hero #2
GENRE: Inspirational Historical Romance
RELEASE DATE: February 7, 2017
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“You might aim to pretend you’re ordinary, but nothing could be further from the truth.”
Y’all just go ahead and get your fans and fainting couches handy, ok? Because Thomas Baker will have you swooning before the first chapter is finished. His rakish grin, his handsome figure, his rogueish thoughts … whew. Maybe just go on ahead and sit by the nearest snowbank while you’re reading this too. Or, if your weather is miserably unwintry like Kentucky’s, read by the open freezer door.
Besides Thomas and all his swooniliciousness, we also get to meet Laurel. She’s a fantastic heroine, strong enough to hold her own yet vulnerable enough to admit she needs help. The chemistry between these two is palpable and electric from the instant their eyes first meet and just gets better as their story progresses. Both protagonists already have compelling backstories that give dimension to their characters, and the way these stories are presented – as well as the growth that each experiences along the way – makes these two of my favorite of Gray’s characters!
Bottom Line: An Uncommon Protector is a story bursting with everything western romance fans are looking for. Bits of intriguing history woven throughout, fantastic characters, humor, sincerity, and some sizzle too! Enhancing the story even further is a bit of mystery/suspense that keeps tensions high (and brings out Thomas’ protective side quite nicely) as well as the message of redemption and “value” that is subtle but also clear and sweet. While this is part of a series, it can certainly be read as a stand alone novel. I always love a new Shelley Shepard Gray read, but this one is a new fave!
(I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the author. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.)
My Rating: 5 stars / Excellent!
KissingBook Level: 4 / Not kidding about reading this from your fainting couch.
Shelley Shepard Gray is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, a finalist for the American Christian Fiction Writers’ prestigious Carol Award, and a two-time HOLT Medallion winner. She lives in southern Ohio where she writes full time, bakes too much, and can often be found walking her dachshunds on her town’s bike trail.
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What about you? Which character are you most looking forward to meeting? Thomas or Laurel?
Shelley Shepard Gray will be one of our keynote speakers at this year’s CFRR in Cincinnati, OH on August 12th. Reader registrations start on February 15th!!