"I am hard. But because of that, I've learned to reach out to our Lord." (110)
Author: Shelley Shepard Gray
Release Date: February 7, 2017
Genre: Inspirational Historical Fiction
Genre: Inspirational Historical Fiction
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.
There is just something about A Lone Star Hero's Love Story series by Shelley Shepard Gray. Book 1, The Loyal Heart had captured my heart, and in the second book of the series, An Uncommon Protector we are once again thrown into a story of how war had affected and change people. And before we get to that, lets talk about our main characters, Thomas Baker and Laurel Tracey. Boy oh boy! Thomas Baker is one worthy hero. Rakishly handsome and with a grin that can heat through the pages to our fingers, Thomas Baker is loyal and honest, sometimes with humorous or embarrassing results. Either way, you will fall in love with him. Yet, we can't forget the partner in this uncommon love story, Laurel. She is tenacious and strong-willed. From their first encounter to the last scene of the story, their chemistry is spot on. We will not find a better pair in this story than them (though I'm really loving the banters between the team - we'll get to that in a bit). As a couple, they may be my favorite set from all the stories the author (that I've read so far). I do need to check back on another favorite of mine and confirm this claim.
Speaking of characters, we have the camaraderie of the men's unit under Captain Devin's promise pact.
"What kind of men were they? What kind of men dropped everything and rode miles and miles on the basis of one telegram? Men unlike any she'd ever known." (225)
So true it is, and that's what truly struck me with this series. There's friendship, the type that highlights loyalty in all caps, but it's much more than that. It's a promise, a promise that held true to each of these men's hearts, and in turn representative of the promise from our Lord to us.
The mystery aspect was interesting, and had provided the catalyst for the story to move forward, and the chance for us to see our main characters get to know each other, and for us to meet the rest of the unit again. I am so looking forward to Major Kelly and Captain Devin's story! I love how the author easily woven in a little background of the unit, Thomas' and Laurel's backstory and bring forth the story as a whole. In all, a wonderful Book 2 in a series, that can easily be read as a standalone. I really enjoyed An Uncommon Protector, and even more so than book 1, The Loyal Heart! (That says a lot considering it's on my 2016 Historical fiction favorite reads list!)
One of my favorite scenes:
"Miss Tracey, I would have paid good money to have you at my side when I gave Thomas orders during the war. Your presence would have saved us from many hours watching him pace and fidget." (228)
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the author/publisher. I was not required to write a positive review, and have not been compensated for this. This is my honest opinion.
For my review policy, please see my Disclosure page.
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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.