“An Uncommon Protector” is the second book in Gray’s  Lone Star Hero’s Love Story series. During their imprisonment in a Yankee camp on an island in Lake Erie, several Southern officers promised to always be there for each other. Since this volume features Thomas Baker, the second of those officers, I assume (and hope) that future installments will feature each of the other men.

Thus far, life has not been overly kind to Thomas Baker. In fact it has been a huge struggle. Poor choices after the war left him without money and even in jail. His only hope was for a local rancher to hire him for a year but he sure wasn’t expecting to be hired by the lovely Laurel Tracey who was attempting to run her family’s ranch on her own. Laurel’s kindness and determination quickly brings Thomas to the realization that he will do anything it takes to protect and help Laurel.

I absolutely loved this book, especially the way Thomas’ character was portrayed. His humility was endearing but also a bit sad. It was so difficult for him to believe what others saw in him – his integrity, his skill with horses, and the way he cared for others. It was wonderful to read about the emotional healing that he received through his relationships with Laurel and his officer friends. I liked Laurel also and admired her caring and forgiving spirit. I also enjoyed spending a little time with the men I met in “The Loyal Heart”. Flashbacks to Thomas’ time in the prison camp helped to add some insight into his character and the strong bond between the officers.

“An Uncommon Protector” can easily stand alone but I believe it was so much better after reading “The Loyal Heart”. Either way, if you enjoy historical fiction with a Texas setting, you cannot go wrong with this series.

I voluntarily reviewed a digital copy of this book that was provided by Booklook Bloggers. A favorable review was not required and all views expressed are my own.


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 Laurel’s life is threatened, 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, and he needs more than just his freedom—he needs her love and care too.


Shelley Shepard Gray is a “New York Times” and “USA Today” bestselling author, a finalist for the American Christian Fiction Writers prestigious Carol Award, and a two-time HOLT Medallion winner. She lives in southern Ohio, where she writes full-time, bakes too much, and can often be found walking her dachshunds on her town’s bike trail.

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