3 Stars"Heart of Stone"
by Ari McKay is a historical western romance with a bit of mystery. Set in the late 1800’s in Nevada, it is a mix of old west with the new amenities that are becoming more common, such as indoor plumbing and an icebox. The story has a nice mix of western ranch life, small town living, mixed with what would be considered a forbidden romance especially during this time period.
Stone Harrison is a cowboy, working on a ranch in Texas when he receives a letter stating that he has inherited a large ranch in Nevada from an Aunt he has never met. He has doubts about being able to manage a large ranch but he is determined to not shrug his responsibilities like his father. Stone’s father was an abusive alcoholic that beat both him and his mother. He also grew up being targeted for his mixed heritage as he is one quarter Pawnee.
Upon arriving at the ranch he is greeted by the foreman Luke Reynolds. Luke feels an immediate attraction to Stone but Stone is not one to trust people, especially with his secrets. As Luke and Stone get to know one another Luke shares his own secret with Stone. Stone is surprised but knows from experience that this is not something he can pursue.
I thought the attraction, friendship and fear of what could happen to Luke and Stone was presented thoughtfully and realistically. The author adds a bit of mystery when a series of accidents start taking place at the ranch as well as the unwelcome visit from a cousin from back east. These events add another element to the story that allows the bond between Luke and Stone to develop.
One of the secondary characters that I enjoyed was Miss Agnes, the daughter of the town physician. Although described as homely, she is intelligent, kind and observant. Her role throughout the story did not lead where I thought it might and the turn was a surprise that I thought maybe not plausible. Her role had a definite impact on Luke and Stone’s life and their future.
I love books with a western theme and this one with romance and mystery was enjoyable. Luke and Stone are likable characters and the development of their relationship satisfying. I had reservations regarding how much scrutiny the two men or women would have had from the town or the hands on the ranch unless they were careless in some way.
Deb's review also posted at Live Your Life, Buy The Book