Title: Rustler’s Moon by Jodi Thomas
Ransom Canyon Series Book Two
Publisher: HQN Books
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 368 pages
Book Rating: B
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
On a dirt road marked by haunting secrets, three strangers caught at life’s crossroads must decide what to sacrifice to protect their own agendas…and what they’re each willing to risk for love.
If there’s any place that can convince Angela Harold to stop running, it’s Ransom Canyon. And if there’s any man who can reveal desires more deeply hidden than her every fear, it’s Wilkes Wagner. Beneath the rancher’s honorable exterior is something that just might keep her safe…or unwittingly put her in danger’s path.
With his dreams of leaving this small Texas town swallowed up by hard, dusty reality, all Wilkes has to show for his life is the Devil’s Fork Ranch. Though not one to let false hope seduce him, he can’t deny the quiet and cautious beauty who slips into his world and changes everything.
Lauren Brigman finally has freedom at her fingertips. All she needs is Lucas Reyes’s attention—a look, a touch, some sign that she’s more to him than a girl he rescued one dangerous night. But now it’s her turn to rescue someone, and the life-altering decision may cost her more than a chance with Lucas.
Rustler’s Moon by Jodi Thomas is a sweet romance with an element of suspense. The multiple story arcs feature old and new characters to the Ransom Canyon series but the novel can be read as a standalone.
Following the death of her father, Angela Harold accepts a job as a museum curator and moves from Florida to Crossroads, TX where she soon meets local rancher Wilkes Wagner. Heeding her father’s warnings to keep a low profile, Angela quickly relaxes her guard but it soon becomes apparent she might have cause for concern. When someone begins following her and leaving threatening notes, Wilkes becomes protective of Angela and as they try to discover who is behind the threats, both are surprised by their unexpected attraction to one another.
Until her father’s death, Angela lived a quiet and fairly sheltered life. She is eager to begin her new life in Crossroads and she takes several precautions on her journey to the small town. Feeling safe and protected after her arrival, she sees no reason anyone would find her in Crossroads and she resumes her normal life. Welcomed by everyone in Crossroads, she finds unlikely friendships with Wilkes, Sheriff Dan Brigman, occasional resident Carter Mayes and Yancy Grey. When Wilkes steps in to help keep her safe, their easygoing friendship soon gives way to romance.
Wilkes left the family ranch after joining the military and for a time after his enlistment ended, he wandered a little aimlessly until his parents asked him to return to Crossroads. His only serious relationship ended in heartbreak and while he has casually dated since the break up, he refuses to get involved with anyone long term. Angela is nothing like the women he is usually attracted to and no one is more surprised than Wilkes when he realizes his feelings for her run much deeper than desire.
The secondary storylines feature characters from Ransom Canyon. Lauren Brigman is now away at college where she continues yearning for Lucas Reyes. Lucas remains committed to completing his degree and between his classes, working multiple jobs and spending time with his family, he has little free time for a romance. Lauren soon has something more to worry about than her faltering relationship with Lucas when her troubled roommate Polly Pierce needs help after ending up in the hospital.
Yancy’s storyline continues as he tries to find out more information a dilapidated house that has fascinated him since he first arrived in town. With a little assistance from both Angela and Wilkes, he learns more of the home’s history but nothing really explains why he is so drawn to it. Information from an unexpected source clears up the mystery and leads to a stunning discovery.
With plenty of small town charm and a cast of endearing yet quirky characters, Rustler’s Moon is a delightful addition to the Ransom Canyon series. Jodi Thomas masterfully weaves the three different story arcs into a compelling novel that is engaging and hard to put down. A delightful romance with just a hint of danger that old and new fans are going to love.