First Comes Marriage...
Alone in the world and struggling to make ends meet, Texas war widow Sarah Winborne will do anything to keep her two small children safe and her hard-won ranch from going under. She hasn't fought for so long to lose everything... and if that means marrying a stranger to protect her family's future, then so be it.
She never expected anything but a business arrangement, but something about Benton Wheeler's broad shoulders and kind eyes awakens emotions she'd long since buried. He makes her feel beautiful. He makes her feel desired. He makes her feel like a woman again. And even though their marriage was never intended to be more than a matter of convenience, as Benton stands between her small family and the wild and dangerous West, Sarah may just realize that the cowboy she married is the love she never dreamed she would find...
"Readers are guaranteed an emotional, rich, adventurous romance with strong heroes and courageous heroines."-RT Book Reviews on Forever and Always
Rating Clarification: 3.75 Stars
Well surprise, surprise I really enjoyed this book! While this is my first book by Leigh Greenwood it isn't my first Historical Western Romance. I quite enjoyed the pacing and mood of this book and while it wasn't a 5 star read it was pretty solid.
Sarah Winborne is standing on her last leg, she's about to lose her ranch and the only way she can save it is by marrying again. She meets Salty one of George Randolph's hands and they marry. It's a business transaction, they stay married for 5 years and when its over they divorce and he gets half the ranch. This is where I felt like I was missing out on something. In the beginning we're introduced to the entire Randolph brood. The Randolph brothers including a pregnant Rose who is George's wife. So I gathered that Rose had been his housekeeper before they'd married.
I hate feeling like this when reading a book I like to know the complete backstory of all the relevant characters. So I'll probably go back and read George and Rose's story if they have one because I'm quite intrigued. Back to Sarah and Salty, their relationship starts out very slowly. Rose has issues because of her past, specifically with men. Her Father was not an easy man and never saw her as anything but a useless woman. Her husband was the same, he treated her badly even struck her a few times. Until he went to war and never came back.
So when she feels attracted to Salty she's immediately weary and thinks that no good could of it. Sarah was a difficult and emotional character, she was younger than Salty's 27 years so that may have been part of the problem, also she'd only ever had her father and husband as a point of reference so she didn't really know very much about men. She definitely didn't make it easy for Salty to become part of the family even though he had brought so much needed help without even expecting gratification. I felt like she was overly suspicious of him. It was very frustrating.
Salty is your text book beta hero, protective but will cater to the heroines every whim. Not a bad thing at all, I loved his character and how loving and patient he was with Jared and Ellen. I enjoyed the conflict that the author threw in not all of it was predictable and I really enjoyed that. My only gripe would probably be with Arnie (any man who will hurt animals is a write off for me) I just felt like his character didn't deserve any redemption, Salty and Sarah were way too forgiving.
On to the little things I loved. I loved how Ellen loved cows and horses and wasn't afraid to say it, even though she was only 7. I loved Bones, he brought cuteness to the story. I loved how Jared got to show that he could also be strong in the end.
If you love historical Western romance then I'd definitely give this one a go if I were you. As a side note this was my first romance by a male author, I've only ever read fantasy written by men but I was quite impressed!
ARC kindly provided by publisher via Netgalley in return for an honest review