***A complimentary copy of this read was furnished by Sourcebooks Casablanca through NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review***
When Houston Legend’s bride was killed at the altar before their vows, he wallowed in agony. As painful rumors and truths came to light, he wallowed in anger moving to adrift as his heart hardened. Unfortunate circumstances left Lara Boone, a damaged mother to a small daughter with no husband and no desire for a man in her life, wallowing in her own anguish.
Over late night cards and too many drinks, Stoker Legend loses half the family holdings to new neighbor Till Boone. The only negotiation Till will entertain is how soon Stoker can convince his son to marry Till’s daughter. An angry Houston’s obliged to do anything to secure his family’s legacy, even if it means marrying a woman he’s never met and claim her babe as his own.
Standing in front of a preacher with a tad of resentment for their fathers neither bride nor groom wanted to celebrate their somber, funeral-like wedding. Afterward, Houston realized the depth of Lara’s personal nightmare and vowed no force on earth would keep him from avenging his new bride or claiming his new daughter as he and Stoker greeted Lara as the new Legend matriarch.
Yuma, the well written villain of the piece was a threat on the page or looming in the distance. The remaining personable and distinct secondary characters supported the story and other characters well. Houston was quite the standout as the swoon-worthy hero women wanted and men wanted to be. Lara was no slouch displaying the type of clarity, grit and steel spine that built a nation.
The broken, damaged leads managed to fall in love as they traversed adventure, danger, deceit, heartbreak, shame and a madman’s revenge to find their way out of the dark to joyful new dreams and a new future as a family. This new to me author pandered to my innate penchant for stoic, protective heroes and weakness for cowboys. It’s a great rainy day read but a tad too intense for the beach.