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.
When Laurel Tracey inherits her father's ranch, she also inherits her step sister and step brother. Having lost their own inheritance, they now set their sites on Laurel's. Instead of helping her, they are leeches and are pushing her to sell. But Lauren is determined to hold on to her legacy. Even worse, squatters have set up their shacks, threatening to claim the land for themselves.
She soon learns that she can acquire a convict to work on her land for one year. Although wary, she knows this is her only choice to run her ranch profitably. The convict she chooses Sergeant Thomas Baker.
Thomas had a rough life, but had a penchant for doing the right thing. One mistake, a gambling debt, landed him in jail. When he learned he could work off his jail sentence by helping Laurel, he jumped at the chance. Soon after he takes on his duties, Laurel's cattle begins to mysteriously turn up dead - a definite threat. He calls on the aid of a group of long lost military friends who come from various distances to aid him in helping save Laurel's ranch.
I loved this story because of the strong upstanding hero and the good men who are loyal to him. Laurel is a strong, determined heroine who did not hesitate to take a risk to save her legacy. An excellent romance that is not to sweet, but inspirational and filled with real creative characters! This book kept me reading at a furious pace. A true secret pleasure.