Friday, January 10, 2014
(Guess what? it's not set in Wyoming but three hours from where I live)
Naomi Rawlings brought a rancher to 1890s upstate New York. Luke Hayes runs a sizable family ranch in Wyoming. His mother's health is failing and he has two very important things to take care of in the modern, eastern city of Albany. His grandfather and father were estranged, but Luke has inherited his wealthy grandfather's estate. He can kill two birds with one stone now, because he has to take care of the estate in person (just long enough to get it off his hands), and bring his sister back home to see their dying mother.
Well, you know it's not going to be that easy.
One quick trip to the Hayes Academy for Girls to pick up his sister...
and he meets not only Samantha's refusal to go back home before the end of the school year, but the school's math teacher and biggest proponent of women's education, Miss Elizabeth Wells who is bound and determined to plead her case before him. The Academy will close if he doesn't donate more money.
Does he go against his mother's wishes and share the truth with the unsuspecting Samantha about their ma's failing health? And does he have any reason to help a failing girls' school that is losing money and students and community support---other than the fact Miss Wells is too fascinating to forget?
Luke Hayes is not an uncultured brawny cowpoke, but he has no interest in his grandfather's home, the servants, the lucrative business and investments and especially, grandfather's devotion to philanthropy.
Until he sees just what his grandfather cared about most.
Elizabeth is finely drawn as a woman with high intelligence and little regard for society's restrictions yet she is not hard-edged or out to make a point. She gracefully stands up for what she believes in and finds she might be standing alone.
Luke is pretty set in his ways, and his preference for a ranch life. He's smart and despite his stubbornness, isn't dead set against change, only against the scheming suitor after his little sister.
...who happens to be Elizabeth's brother, the treasurer of the Hayes Academy for Girls! Yes, there's plenty of conflict here!
Luke and Elizabeth are a great pair of leads--characters with a lot of depth and certainly not caricatures of themselves. That's what I liked most about this book. Naomi Rawlings has such a smooth way with characterization. Sometimes you come across characters that felt forced, or pushed to be 'memorable', but certainly not in this book. (I wish I had a better way to describe it!)
I enjoyed their growing friendship and later, their love, as Luke changes his views. There wasn't a moment where the story slowed down--the pages turned quickly with so much going on and Naomi's lovely details and real emotion. A very pleasant read and satisfying ending! I wonder if there's another book coming out of this story (I'm happy to know there's a third Naomi Rawlings book coming, second in her French Revolution series)
I hope you get a chance to read The Wyoming Heir.
THEY WYOMING HEIR:
The Cowboy in the Classroom . . .
Given a choice, Luke Hayes wouldn't ever leave his Wyoming ranch. Yet when his estranged grandfather dies, leaving him everything, he'll travel to Valley Falls, New York—but only to collect his sister and his inheritance. He won't be roped into saving a floundering girls' school, no matter what mathematics teacher Elizabeth Wells says. Elizabeth has defied social convention and her own family for the sake of her beloved Hayes Academy. Luke is pure rancher, from the tip of his Stetson to the scuff on his boots, yet he's also becoming her unlikely ally. Only he can help save her job and school…but how much will she lose when the time comes for him to leave?
Amazon link to the Wyoming Heir