Published by Penguin Publishing Group on September 4th 2018
I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
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New York Times bestselling author Sarah McCarty returns to her Promise series with this next western historical romance.
As Jackson Montgomery heads across the last mountain range toward home after collecting on a particularly difficult bounty, he isn't looking forward to anything but a good meal, a stiff drink and maybe some female companionship. But as he passes the Bentley place, he can't resist taking a gander at who'd been fool enough to buy the disaster Bentley had created. He expects to see a tenderfoot for sure, because only a tenderfoot would buy a place as poorly placed and poorly built as Bentley's Folly.
He's not far off.
Mimi Banfield thought she was done for when she fell into the well filled with rattlers. Her rescuer has all the survival skills she's missing, and he's exactly the man needed to fix up her new place. As the newly minted guardian for three orphaned children, she could certainly use a hand. Jackson is equally intrigued by Mimi as he is by Mimi's offer of a job. He agrees to stay on, not knowing that she has a deadly secret. By the time she confesses, it may just be too late for salvation.
It was a surprise to find this historical western series. It has been awhile since I read an old western. This was a great choice.
I like my cowboys old school, not Tweeting on the back of a horse, so I was very interested in an offered copy of Sarah McCarty’s upcoming release. This is the fifth book in the series, but a simple reading of the premise of the other four books left me ready for all the other characters that I met.
In Promises Decide, Jackson Montgomery is a bounty hunter on his way home after turning over his most recent bounty. As he passes the Bentley place, he sees smoke rising from the chimney. The old Bentley place is a disaster of a house with crooked floors, land too rocky to grow anything, a dry well and it was built in the middle of a flash flood plain. There is no way Bentley is living there anymore so he must have found some greenhorn to sell it to.
Since he is curious by nature, and everyone likes interesting news to share in town, Jackson decides to swing by and meet the suckers who purchased the house. What he finds is a couple of kids surrounding the (probably) dry well. It looks like their Ma fell in, which is bad enough, by a dry well also attracts rattlesnakes. Jackson is not only curious, but he is chivelrous and there is no way he will leave this greenhorn woman and her kids to their fate.
But Jackson is hurt going down that well to rescue the pretty young woman, a woman too young to have mothered the three kids standing outside the well, all of whom look nothing alike. Jackson ends up staying with them awhile to recover. He knows they need some protection, even if it just from their own foolishness, and he also stays because that curious nature of his is demanding he find out just what is going on.
Jackson isn’t a fool and he can tell that Mimi and the children are city people and are on the run from something or someone. Jackson can’t help falling for Mimi and her three young charges, and even though they haven’t yet come to trust him, he will protect them all with his life.
While the love seems to come a bit quickly, Jackson was thinking as he was riding home that it is about time he starts thinking about settling down and returning to the family ranch permanently. It might have something to do with the fact that four of his friends have found love and are settled down. Then he meets Mimi and likes what he sees. Not only is she pretty, but she has spirit and just needs someone to teach her and the children about survival in the old west.
In a world where it takes three hours to ride into the closest town, talk about a rough commute, I lost a little respect for Mimi that in the year she has been on the run with the children she didn’t even pick up a book on farming or quiz people they met as they traveled out west or offer to work on a homestead to learn. She was trying to avoid being caught by staying away from towns, but spent all of their money buying a property that would have killed them and even if it didn’t, they had no understanding of farming or hunting or anything else to survive in the wilderness. She didn’t run away a week ago. They have been running for a year. What was she doing all that time?
This was a quick read and I was suprised to find out it was 320 pages. This wasn’t a convaluted story. Just a simply romance set in a simpler time.
I liked the family of characters that we met from the prior stories and really want to take some time to read them. Unfortunately, there are no audiobooks for this series which I like to use for playing catch up. I do want to know more about Jenna and Cougar and the Rev. and I am simplying going to have to find some time to squeeze them in.
He blinked through the lingering haze. Oh, yes. She’d asked him where he was going. “I’m going to help Kevin with the privy.”
Her skirts rustled as she rushed into the room. “Oh, no, you’re not.”
His head came up as she approached. He might be sick. He might be hurting. He might be a far pace from his normal self, but it’d be a cold day in hell before he took orders from anyone.
He straightened. “I’m sorry you feel that strongly about it.”
His determination didn’t falter but his strength book a tumble. The room spun. Clutching the back of a chair, he took a deep breath and closed his eyes. The next instant, he felt an arm slide around his waist and a rather delicate, slightly bony shoulder poke into his side.
“Bravado will only get you so far,” Mimi muttered.
He looked down at the top of her head. The part was straight and centered. Her braid was just as neat. “You thinking of holding me up?”
“I appreciate the thought, but if I go down, you’re going to get squashed like a bug.” And he was pretty sure he was going down.
She didn’t move. “I’m not that little and you’re not that big.”
He couldn’t help a twitch of his lips through the nausea. He remembered that about her. The woman had a lot of sass.
“I think you think you’re a bit bigger than you really are.”
“I’m big enough. got you in the house, didn’t I?”
He was careful not to lean on her. “With the help of my horse.”
“How did you–” She huffed as realization dawned. “Melinda Sue has no sense of discretion.”
“She’s what? Three?”
“Not many four-year-olds are big on discretion.”
“So I’m learning.”
Learning? He felt the twitch that went through her shoulder. Interesting.
“Every child’s different.”
He just bet. But not usually as different as her family. There was a story here and when his brain stopped clawing at his head, he’d figure it out.
Her shoulder pressed into his side and her palm pressed against his back. “What you need is to go back to bed.”
“What I need is to help Kevin.”
“Kevin probably isn’t even there.”
“Then I’ll inspect his work.”
“But–” Ther was a pause. She looked up and he had a clear view of her face. It was intriguing as always, with its compelling mix of feminine softness, strong angles, and complete composure, but her eyes were what he wanted to see and it was her eyes that the dim light hid from him. As he watched, she blinked. Comprehension dawned with a blush and a slight hitch in her breath. “There’s a chamber pot in the other room.”
He shook his head and took a step, stumbling forward, taking her with him. Her hand caught the doorjamb a split second before his hand slammed into the jamb above it. “I’m not using a damn chamber pot.”
Melinda Sue gasped and immediately hopped up from the bench upon which she’d sat herself. “I’ll get the soap.”
“Never mind the soap,” Mimi snapped at Melinda Sue before tightening her grip on his waist. “Well, I’m not fighting to get you up those dratted steps again.”
He resisted her tug. “Who asked you to?”
“Your stubbornness is going to force me to force Lady again. Trust me, that’s not pretty.”
“Lady doesn’t belong in the hosue.”
“Well, hereoes don’t belong in the dirt,” she snapped back.
Hero. The term grated his nerves. He didn’t want to be a hero to this woman. Heroes were untouchable. “I’m not a damn hero.”
“What are you then?”
“I’m a man.” He paused and then added significantly, “A man with a need to visit the privy.”
Because everything was so out of control and he couldn’t afford misunderstanding, he added, “Badly.”
He had to give it to her. Even though color flooded her cheeks, she stuck to her guns. With more pressure at his waist, she tried to maneuver him to the pallet.
“I know you’re a man, and I understand your problem, but I don’t think you understand how sick you are. You’ve been in and out of awareness since yesterday.”
“I’m fine now.”
“I’m not a doctor. I’m not even much of a nurse, but I know that’s a load of horse hockey.”
Not to be outdone, Melinda Sue added her two cents. “Yeah. Horse hockey.”
The laugh caught him by surprise. The pain not so much. But it was manageable now that he was used to it and could predict it better. He touched the wound on his head through the bandage. “Did you stitch me up?”
“Ever done that before?”
“No. Did I do it right?”
The wound felt tender to the touch, the stitches even. “Feels like it.”
He looked down in time to catch her studying him, fine white teeth sunk into those full lips. Desire that he had no business feeling hit him like a punch in the gut. Along with understanding. She put up a good front, but if he looked closely, there was a tension at the corners of her eyes and mouth. He wanted to ease that stress with a brush of his fingers. His lips. Damn. “You really don’t know what the hell you’re doing, do you?”
“Not a clue.” She shrugged. “It’s all just one big experiment, mostly.”
Wonderful. “Well, while you’re experimenting, experiment with the notion that you don’t tell me what to do, all right?”
That got him a raised brow. “I prefer to think of it as making sensible suggestions.”
He untangled her arm from around his waist. “Uh-huh. I bet.”
Folding her arms across her chest, she asked. “Do you think by sheer force of will you’re going to be able to get back up the steps?”
She threw up her hands. “Heaven save me from fools and idiots!”
Gritting his teeth, he tottered through the door. “Wasn’t saving you from snakes enough?”
“I’m finding I’m a woman of many needs.”
“Wonderful.” Sunlight hitting his eyes just sent the banshee screaming in his head again, which increased his nausea, which increased his light-headedness, which increased his dizziness.
“Is that a problem?”
“I haven’t decided yet.” Two more steps and he made it to the edge of the porch. Grabbing the rail kept him from pitching face-first down the steps. He took three slow breaths, fighting nausea. This was definitely going to be a sheer-force-of-will trip. He stood there a second, gathering his determination.
From the doorway Mimi fussed. “I’ll come with you.”
He turned. “The hell you will.”
“Me, too,” Melinda Sue chirped.
“You get back into the house, Mellie.”
Melinda Sue pouted and stamped her foot. “I can help catch him.”
Mimi pointed. “Inside.”
Melinda Sue stomped her way into the house, her pout leading the way. When a chair rattled against the floor, signaling her flop into silent protest, Mimi put her hands on her hips. “Now you have no one to catch you if you fall.”
Falling was more likely than not. He started down the steps. One. Two. And a very shaky three. “Then I’ll get my ass back up.”
Her skeptical “uh-huh” sounded remarkably like his.
He cocked a brow at her as she followed him down the steps. “You realize that I won’t always be this weak?”
She blew a strand of hair off her cheek. “You realize I’ll always be this sensible?”