Shannon McMurphy travels to Asherville, Texas as a mail order bride expecting to marry a rancher. Instead, her intended is a saloonkeeper. Her refusal to marry enrages John Hardy and he slices her cheek with a knife so no other man would want her. She runs into the street and no one helps her until Cinders comes along.
Sexy, Rancher Cinders saves Shannon and offers her a job. To protect her reputation he marries her. They both agree it's a marriage of convenience. He admires her spunk and willingness to learn everything about surviving the Texas frontier. He waits for her to ask to go home but she never does.
They learn a lot about each other through, stolen horses, Indian troubles, a cattle drive and the busybodies of the town. Their attraction for each other grows, but can they learn to trust enough to love?
Shannon's introduction to her new husband to be is not what she expected, and the rowdy saloon is certainly not what she envisaged when she answered the advert for a 'mail order bride'. Shocked that her prospective husband is not the rancher she was led to believe was waiting for her, she refuses to go have anything to do with John Hardly who slashes her face in rage and spite, taunting her that no other man would want her now.
A man called Cinders comes to her rescue. He gets her face sewn up and realises that he will have to take her back to her ranch as there is nowhere in the town for her to stay. The townswomen are singularly unsympathetic. In order to protect her reputation they are obliged to get married. Now Shannon has the rancher husband she wanted, and throws herself into being a hardworking wife, even if they are man and wife in name only, and quickly earns the respect and liking of the ranch hands. She is very naive and innocent in some ways and has to lean on the ranch cook for support and advice when she is too shy to ask her husband.
There is plenty of action and suspense in this story, and a little humour too, as Cinders refuses to reveal his first name to his bride, and she tries unsuccessfully to guess it. The reason for his reluctance is not revealed until the end. Both Shannon and Cinders are well drawn, likable characters, and have to endure a lot of dangerous encounters and some misunderstandings before they achieve their happy ever after. The supporting characters are also well portrayed and easy to relate to. The women of the town are not very likable, and make little attempt to hide their prejudice and misinformed opinions of Shannon. There is plenty of action and suspense, and I found this a thoroughly entertaining and enjoyable short novel. I can recommend it to anyone who enjoys a romantic historical western with a strong but gentle hero and a feisty, but sweet natured heroine.
Rating: Five comets
Finalist in the 2012 RONE Awards.
Top Pick, Five Star Series from the Romance Review.
Kathleen Ball writes contemporary western romance with great emotion and memorable
characters. Her books are award winners and have appeared on best sellers lists including
Amazon's Best Sellers List, All Romance Ebooks, Bookstrand, Desert Breeze Publishing and
Secret Cravings Publishing Best Sellers list. She is the recipient of eight Editor's Choice
Awards, and The Readers' Choice Award for Ryelee's Cowboy.
There's something about a cowboy....
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