When the stagecoach that is carrying Emma Martin to her new job in Denver is attacked and robbed in the wilds of Colorado, she is the only survivor. Alone and terrified, she is rescued by Luke Butler, a rancher who knows only one way. His way.
When Luke Butler finds Emma Martin, he has no other choice but to bring her back to his ranch. Soon, his life is turned upside down by a female who doesn’t know how to mind and who doesn’t know how to stay put.
The battle that follows is a clash of wills, a test of tempers, and a lesson in love.
Lynda Chance is an author who never backs away from writing about uber-alpha males, the kind of men who take charge, hand out dictums and insist on obedience whether a female likes it or not. It’s just the kind of heroes a reader will encounter in her books. This short novel is no exception. Set in the Old West, this story begins with the harsh realities of life in a locality that has little patience with weakness and which sucks the life out of those who are strong enough to survive. Emma was a woman alone and who had fabricated herself as a widow in order to keep from being viewed by strangers as a “loose woman” or a woman on the loose. She was an orphanage raised individual with few employable skills but seeking to have a life with the few she possessed. That her stage coach was robbed and one of the thieves chose to avoid killing her was simply the “luck of the draw.” She was a woman with a lame leg and a very poor self-image to go along with it. She was aware of how unattractive she was, how unwanted by anyone for marriage. Her virginity would remain a carefully guarded secret.
She was totally unprepared for Luke Butler’s overbearing, lustful response to her and she took the opportunity to hide her limp behind a new injury to her ankle sustained when she was running from the stage coach. She was completely surprised that Luke continued to see her as attractive and continued to do everything in his power to protect and heal her. Yet he didn’t want love or marriage and as she was a widow, he knew that no one would think less of him or her if they “indulged” in a bit of a fling. Little did he know what awaited him when he finally bedded her.
This is a really enjoyable short novel, easily read in one sitting, and with characters who are straight out of the history books and whose actions and attitudes accurately reflect those of their times. Luke’s overbearing insistence on Emma’s obedience is really for her protection from nature and surroundings that were hostile to human habitation. She found that out when she went walking by herself and found herself in a den of rattlesnakes. It is a story that also allows the reader to see inside the mind and heart of a man who had come to accept that he would be alone, whose life was ordered and arranged around the demands of his huge ranch and who had come to accept that the “gentle sex” were only there for his occasional needs. Emma took his heart by storm but Ms Chance writes in such a way that the reader can see into the thoughts of a man who didn’t have time for romance, who didn’t take time to “refine” his social graces or who perhaps had never had any such graces. In the same way Luke was a total “education” in dealing with a man who never backed down, who told it like it was, who didn’t play social games. This encounter between the two really was a journey of discovery for both of them.
I like this author and her books are very entertaining. She writes strong gritty characters who are dealing with the realities of living in harsh times, whether historical or contemporary. She has been criticized for the overbearing nature of her heroes but she likes them like that. No matter what, she writes a good story and one that will be a very nice reading experience and won’t take up a huge chunk of the reader’s time. I found this to be a really fine read.
I give it a rating of 4 out of 5.
You can read more from Judith at Dr J’s Book Place.