Monday, May 8, 2017

An Uncommon Protector- Shelley Shepard Gray

My Rating: 3 Stars

Description: Overwhelmed by the responsibilities of running a ranch on her own, Laurel Tracey decides to hire a convict—a man who’s just scary enough to take care of squatters and just desperate enough to agree to a one year post.

The years following the war have been hard on Laurel Tracey. Both her brother and her father died in battle, and her mother passed away shortly after receiving word of their demise. Laurel has been trying to run her two hundred acre ranch as best she can.

When she discovers that squatters have settled in her north pasture and have no intention of leaving, Laurel decides to use the last of her money to free a prisoner from the local jail. If she agrees to offer him room and board for one year, he will have to work for her to pay off his debt.

Former soldier Thomas Baker knows he’s in trouble when he finds himself jailed because he couldn’t pay a few fines. Laurel’s offer might be his only ticket out. Though she’s everything he ever dreamed of in a woman—sweet and tender-hearted, yet strong—he’s determined to remain detached, work hard on her behalf, and count the days until he’s free again.

But when cattle start dying and the squatters damage a barn, Thomas realizes more than just his freedom is on the line. Laurel needs someone to believe in her and protect her property. And it isn’t long before Laurel realizes that Thomas Baker is far more than just a former soldier. He’s a trustworthy hero who’s survived a terrible past. He needs more than just his freedom, he needs her love and care too.

My Thoughts: The story started out really good. It was engaging and easy to read, so I blew through the first quarter of the book in one sitting. At that point, I was pretty sure that it was already much better than the last book in the series (which I had given 3.5 stars) and I was really excited to pick it back up the next day.

But then something changed. The story started become repetitive, with a good portion of the character's interacts being the same argument over and over. I also started to notice certain words were repeated far more than they needed to be. There were four pages in a row in which Thomas was "contemplative" about something. He also managed to say a few times what Laurel was thinking, using the same wording so that the character voices of the two were indistinguishable.

As with many authors who become popular, I think this book suffered from too few drafts. As though the editor trusted we would read it anyway, despite the mistakes. And while the problems with this one were not overbearing, they were still off-putting. The story is there for anyone who loves Gray's books, and I still believe that the story itself was better than the first book. However, I'm frustrate to see a great story hurt by simple fixes. So this time around, I can't give it any higher than a three.

I have provided an honest review after having received a copy of the book through the Fiction Guild.

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