In light of her father’s death, Mariah Malone sends a letter that will forever alter the lives of her family. When Slade Donovan, strong willed and eager for vengeance, shows up on her front porch, Mariah is not ready to hear his truths: her father’s farm, the only home she’s ever known, was bought with stolen gold. With Slade ready to collect his father’s rightful claim and force Mariah and her family out on the streets, Mariah must turn to God for guidance. Though Mr. Frederick Cooper, a local landowner, promises to answer her financial woes if she agrees to be his bride, Mariah finds herself drawn instead to the angry young man demanding her home.
With the ranch now under Slade’s careful eye, he will unearth more than he ever imagined as a devious plot of thievery, betrayal and murder threatens more than the well-being of the ranch, endangering the lives of those who hold it dear. With days dwindling until the rest of the Donovan clan arrive to the Lazy M ranch, Mariah and Slade must rise above the resentment of their fathers and see their true feelings before greed alters their futures forever.
Hillman’s sophomore offering is better than her first. I enjoyed Stealing Jake immensely, but this one, set on a ranch in the west, was a cut above. Easily the best book I’ve read this year [which I know isn’t necessarily saying a ton since it’s early January as I read this], Claiming Mariah should be on your “must buy” list.
I laughed, I cried. I loved Slade. He’s near the top of my list for all-time favorite heroes. He wants nothing more than to take back what was stolen from his father and help his mother and sisters. Have grown-up on the wrong side of the tracks, and on the bottom end of that totem pole to boot, he just wants to make it to his mother who worked long hours for little pay to feed them.
Slade tries to come off as a heartless rancher taking over what he’s owed, but his soft side begins to show through almost immediately when he lets Mariah and her grandmother continue living in the house until his mother and sisters arrive a month or two down the road. They have nowhere else to go.
His kindheartness grows when he meets a little boy and girl growing up much as he did. Their names are completely escaping me at the moment, but I loved the children and how they interacted with both Slade and Mariah.
Slade’s brother comes with him when he rides onto the Lazy M. I would absolutely LOVE it if Ms. Hillman’s next release featured him as the hero [perhaps with Mariah’s sister as the heroine], but I’m not sure what she has in the works.
The only downside to Claiming Mariah is that it is only available as an ecopy. I would love a paperback to hold in my hands, but since that’s not possible, my Kindle will have to do.
Whatever her next work is, I’ll be one of the first in line to grab a copy.
Overall rating: 9.5 out of 10 stars