My rating: 4 stars / I really liked it
Fill-In Father…and Husband
Sweet mail-order bride Nancy Bennett can't believe it when her husband is exposed as a cattle rustler—and killed. And when the banker holding the ranch's mortgage questions whether she can run the ranch on her own, the pregnant widow has nowhere to turn. Until steady foreman Hank Snowden proposes marriage…
Wracked with grief about his role in Lucas Bennett's death, Hank resolves to do right by the man's wife and child. So it's natural for him to step in as Nancy's newly minted husband. But the marriage of convenience may become more than a mere obligation…if only Hank and his bride can brave the first steps toward elusive true love.
I enjoyed the twist of a former mail-order bride entering a new marriage of convenience. Nancy and Hank already admire each other from working together on the ranch, but both have a fear of trusting their heart to another again. Their affection grows to stronger romantic feelings gradually as they unite purposes to save the ranch as an inheritance for her baby. Together they face the threat of foreclosure, more rustlers, the truth of Lucas' death, and demands from Hank's family. The other ranch hands and their friends in the small community provide support and help them see that a true marriage is something of value that is worth striving for. I loved the sweetness and respect in Nancy and Hank's relationship. They helped each other recognize that they deserved love and that they could find it together. While the overall pace was somewhat slow, the descriptions of the setting and details of the time period made it easy to envision, and the romance between Nancy and Hank didn't feel rushed, but had time to develop naturally. The strongest theme of the story is the importance of family.
(Thank you to the author for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review)