By Kelly Bridgewater
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.
After reading Shelley Shepard Gray's Chicago World's Fair Mystery series and being pleased with two out of three of them, I had a good idea of how Gray writes. She invites me into the historical setting with no problem. I could picture the setting and see the characters moving around. I understood the character's plight and emotions. While the story is predictable and non-original, I did like the hero who was a "bad" guy turned right, even though I believe his crime that put him in prison wasn't that horrible. Since it is a historical romance, I knew right away that Laurel and Thomas would fall in love and end up married. While the plot idea of someone wanting to scare Laurel off her hundred acres has been overdone, I did enjoy the time I spent reading the story. Once the bad guy was revealed to Laurel and Thomas, it was a quick hand trick and the bad guy was hauled off to jail. I hoped for a better stand-off, but Gray didn't give me one. An Uncommon Protector is a great book for fans of historical romances right after the Civil War. While I prefer to read something with more suspense in it, Gray does a good job at weaving together a story that I enjoyed.
I received a complimentary copy of An Uncommon Protector from Zondervan Publishing and the opinions stated are all my own.
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
What makes you pick up a book that is out of your genre of choice? Is it the cover? The synopsis? A recommendation?