With the ranch now under Slade's careful eye, he unearths more than he ever imagined as a devious plot of thievery, betrayal, and murder threatens the well-being of the ranch, endangering those who hold it dear. As the days dwindle until the rest of the Donovan clan arrives at the Lazy M ranch, Mariah and Slade must rise above the resentment of their fathers and see their true feelings before greed changes their futures forever.
My take: A touching story about truth and forgiveness, Claiming Mariah is a very enjoyable historical romance. I enjoyed getting to know both Slade and Mariah and watching their relationship develop throughout the novel. But my favorite character was Buck, Slade's younger brother. He was such a gentile, wounded soul, and I would have loved to spend more time with him.
There was a fitting villain in Mariah's would-be suitor Cooper, and the plot had a few twists I wasn't expecting. I did think that the truth about Mariah's sister's schooling remained a secret for far longer than seemed credible, and the suggestion of who might fall in love with Buck seemed a bit too ... convenient. (Sorry, I don't want to spoil it—but if you read the book, you'll know what I mean!) That said, I would very much enjoy reading Buck's love story, even if it does go in the direction hinted at in Claiming Mariah. I hope Hillman writes that story next!
My rating: 4 stars
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