Dare Riker is a doctor who saves lives, but someone seems determined to end his. It may have something to do with the traitors he dealt with during the Civil War, or it might be related to the recent incident with Flint Greer and the ranch. Whoever the culprit is, he or she seems really fired up, and Dare can't let his guard down for a moment, which is a challenge, since right now he's trying to win the heart of the recently widowed Glynna.
Glynna Greer came west as a mail-order bride and ended up in a bad situation. Now her husband, Flint, is dead, and she's determined to care for her son and daughter on her own. She wants to believe Dare Riker is as decent as he seems, but she's terrified to lock herself into another marriage. She plans to support her small family by opening a diner---never mind that cooking is not her greatest talent. The men in Broken Wheel, Texas, are so desperate for home cooking that they seem willing to overlook dried-out beef and blackened biscuits.
Glynna can't help but notice that danger follows Dare wherever he goes. There's the avalanche. And then the fire. But things really get out of hand when someone plunges a knife from Glynna's diner into Dare's back. Are Flint's cronies still plotting revenge? Is Glynna's son engaged in a misguided attempt to protect his mother? Is a shadowy outsider still enraged over past injustices? And can Dare survive long enough to convince Glynna to take another chance on love?
The men of this story make the series. I generally try not to drool over characters, being quite happy with the one that I'm married to, but these men are the cream of the crop. They're manly men, if you know what I mean: honest, hard-working, protective of others, chivalrous, and kind. They're not afraid of a good fight and they'll do what it takes to defend those they love. That's how they rule in this series - because everyone around them needs defending in some way, and so they're really knights in cowboy hats charging off to save the day.
I don't know a woman alive who wouldn't swoon at that.
Although Glynna's no fainting lily herself. She's been married to two cruel men, and she's had it rough. She knows how to take care of her own, but she's tired of the burden and wants to share it. Her strength but tentative trust makes her a winner here. She doesn't back down when life gets hard, but she still hopes for a better tomorrow, and she's not afraid to work hard to get it.
Plotwise, Connealy always writes winners. The action and drama never stop in this story, except for the occasional one-liner that adds levity to the emotionally-charged pages. I couldn't stop turning pages from the first to the last - once you start, you just can't stop.
Morally, I've always enjoyed the faith lessons in Connealy's books, although that's not necessarily why I read them - I just love the stories. This one's a bit different, though. While there's lots of romantic tension and mystery solving, there are also mentoring lessons between Dare, his Regulator friends, and Paul. I appreciate the way that these men take the time to try to reach this troubled teen and the lessons that they pass along to the reader by proxy. Personally, I can't imagine too many teen boys will reap those lessons from the pages of this book, because while it IS full of masculine fighting, it's primarily a love story. Moms, learn those lessons and pass them along, okay? ;-)
As usual, I'm pretty sure that Vince's story is coming up next, and I can't wait to read it. Connealy teases the reader with the beginning of his story in this one, and it, too, promises to entice.
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Mary Connealy writes fun and lively "romantic comedy with cowboys" for the inspirational market. She is the author of the successful Kincaid Brides, Lassoed in Texas, Montana Marriages, and Sophie's Daughters series, and she has been a finalist for a Rita and Christy Award and a two time winner of the Carol Award. She lives on a ranch in eastern Nebraska with her husband, Ivan, and has four grown daughters.
Connect with Mary: http://maryconnealy.com/
I received a free copy of Fired Up from LitFuse Publicity in exchange for an honest review.