Ky Archer is trying to save his family’s ranch, but he doesn’t really have the manpower to do the job. Plus, he was accused of murdering the man he loved dearly—in secret—Mason Tyler. Mason died in a barn fire, one that Mason’s father, Jacob Tyler, accused Ky of setting. The residents of Arthur, Texas aren’t sure who to believe, but the courts didn’t find enough evidence to convict Ky, and he’s been holed up in his ranch licking his wounds, with Jacob telling everyone who’ll listen that Ky is a murderer.
Also, Jacob wants Ky’s ranch. He’s hoping to get it for a bargain, if possible, because it has the best water supply in the area. Ky doesn’t want to sell, but someone has been cutting down his fences and making problems Ky really can’t afford to fix. As a bad storm rolls through, he finds squatters camping on his property. Brodie Tyler and his baby sister, Emily, were escaping their cousin, Jacob, and his grasping wife, who’d happily take Emily from him. Destitute, Brodie would rather live in a car than leave Emily with them. Ky takes them in and assures their safety, knowing it’s asking for more trouble with the Tylers, but he wouldn’t leave a stray dog stay in their care—not if he could prevent it. Ky believes Jacob had a hand in Mason’s death, and doesn’t trust his second wife any either.
As Brodie and Emily spend more time on the ranch, Brodie begins to help out with the business side of things, filing papers and balancing accounts—and acknowledging his growing attraction to the stoic and capable Ky. But Ky doesn’t want to take any advantage of the situation, with Brodie so dependent upon his generosity.
I loved that Brodie is so confident of himself and his desires. The brotherly love he shows Emily is so sweet, and they all make an adorable and supportive found family, including Ben, the ranch hand who appreciates the buffer that Brodie is able to create for Ky. The romance develops pretty quickly, and I had to temper my disbelief with the reality these characters faced—neither has any real prospects for love, beyond each other, and they are united in a common mission to save the ranch and thwart Jacob Tyler’s schemes.
The book has a nice balance of Texas flavor, ranch management, and romance. These men find allies in unexpected places, which is nice, because Arthur was looking like a nasty place to live, before then. Emily is a sweetheart, who loves all the dogs Ky keeps on the ranch, and they love her too. It’s a quick read, and a good start to a new western/cowboy romance series. I would read on to the next book for sure.