The sudden death of the town marshal leaves Blue River, Texas, without a lawman…and twenty-five-year-old Dara Rose Nolan without a husband. As winter approaches and her meager seamstress income dwindles, she has three options. Yet she won't give up her two young daughters, refuses to join the fallen women of the Bitter Gulch Saloon and can't fathom condemning herself to another loveless marriage. Unfortunately she must decide—soon—because there's a new marshal in town, and she's living under his roof.
With the heart of a cowboy, Clay McKettrick plans to start a ranch and finally settle down. He isn't interested in uprooting Dara Rose and her children, but he is interested in giving her protection, friendship—and passion. And when they say "I do" to a marriage of convenience, the temporary lawman's Christmas wish is to make Dara Rose his permanent wife….
(Terra's Thoughts) This is my first western romance that I have read and oh what a book to start out with. Linda Lael Miller knows her stuff and makes you feel right at home in the story with her characters.
Dara Rose is a pretty thing with two lovely children. Sad for her though is that her husband was the last marshall of Blue River who was shot with his pants down in the upper floors of the saloon. She is living on the mercy of the town in the house slated for the marshall's family and is wondering how long it will be before the town throw's her out on her cute little tush with two littles ones and not a penny to her name.
Clay McKettrick is about as handsome as they come and he's coming Dara Rose's way. He has been offered the job of Marshall of Blue River and figures he'll take on the job for a bit while building up his own ranch. Little does he know that the last marshall's wife is going to be an uncontiencious theif in the area of the heart.
This story is set just before Christmas and even though it's in Texas they still have snow and plenty of it. What starts out so heart wrenching and innocent will soon grab your heart by the spurs to suck you into an era past that where innocense can get you thrown out in the street with only the stitch of clothes on your back no matter that two little ones are hugging your apron in hopes of staying warm, fed and loved.
I absolutely loved this story. It has all the wonderful qualities of the Christmas spirit as well as the grappling reality of what life was life back in rustic America. Things weren't always coming up roses folks and that's a reality that hopefully we won't have to deal with in today's day and age.
I must say that I will be looking forward to more of Linda Lael Miller now that I've had a wee taste of what was and the simple beauty of true romance in a simplier time.
Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: HQN Books (September 27, 2011)