Book description: 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.
My review: I enjoyed reading this book, but I wouldn't say that it is one of my favorites. I enjoyed the plot, but I think it could have been a little better developed. Laurel is one of those characters that you enjoy getting to know, and find yourself cheering for from the sidelines. I did really like the flashbacks in Thomas' life. I think it helped to develop and show his character better. The history that was included from the civil war time was very helpful and added to the story. I enjoy reading historical fiction and appreciate that aspect of this book. The story moved along, but I found that the ending seemed a bit rushed. It was as if all of a sudden the author decided to tie things up quickly and have the story finished. This book would not be my first recommendation, but I can still recommend it. I received a complimentary e-copy of this book from the publisher. All opinions are my own.