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 the squatters damage a barn, 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 who’s survived a terrible past. He needs more than just his freedom, he needs her love and care too.
If recent reputation was the only thing you looked at Thomas Baker could easily be considered a less than desirable and An Uncommon Protector for Laurel Tracey. However, things aren’t always as they appear. Thomas Baker had a difficult start to life, he fought valiantly in the civil war, and spent time with his comrades in an interment prison. After he was released, a few poor choices landed him in jail for being unable to pay a gambling debt.
Like many, the civil war had taken much from Laurel Tracey. Her father, her brother and later both her mother and step-father. What she was left with was a struggling ranch, a handful of cattle, and two step-siblings, who were more trouble than they were help. Laurel knew that on her own she couldn’t take care of the ranch and that she needed help. She had offers, of help, but those offers came with strings attached that she was unwilling to get entangled in.
I really enjoyed this fantastic story! There was just enough mystery and intrigue too keep the pages turning and me up late into the night reading this delightful book. Shelley Gray has created delightful characters that will stay with you long after the last pages. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading Historical, Christian Fiction and I look forward to reading more books by Shelly Gray in the future!
I receive complimentary books for review from publishers, publicists and/or authors, including Netgalley. I am not required to write positive reviews. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
About the Author:
I live in southern Ohio with my husband, two teenagers, and two dogs. My days are filled with busy activities like most any other mom and housewife. But I also love to write books.
Each morning, after my kids go off to school, I sit at my desk, look out my window, and dream of other places. The hours fly by as I make up people and places and drink way too much coffee.
Writing for Avon Inspire has truly been a dream come true. Being able to spend my days in my make-believe world of the Brenneman Bed and Breakfast is a true blessing. I have enjoyed getting to know more about the Amish culture and tapping into my faith as I show each character’s progression toward a personal relationship with our Lord.
Before becoming a full time writer, I taught elementary school in Texas, Arizona, and Colorado. A job transfer to Ohio led my husband to encourage me to finally give writing a try. After all, I had notebooks full of made up stories.
I’ll never forget that first book I typed in our unfinished basement. It was exciting to make up a story, but also very scary. I was also so embarrassed, sure someone would come out of the woodwork and point out that I wasn’t a ‘real’ writer. But I persevered, and sold my third manuscript.
Things have changed a bit. Now I have a real office of my own. (think old guest bedroom!) My walls are painted pink, and more than a couple of book covers decorate my walls. But my days are still the same. I wake up, dream about other people, and do my best to type out stories.
Connect with Shelley on her web page