Book Review: Tougher Than the Rest

Tougher Than the Rest
Book Two: MacLarens of Fire Mountain
By Shirleen Davies
Published July 2013
Avalanche Ranch Press
Available on Amazon

A passionate, fast-paced story set in the untamed western frontier by an exciting new voice in historical romance.

Niall MacLaren is the oldest of four brothers, and the undisputed leader of the family. A widower, and single father, he is focused on building the MacLaren ranch into the largest and most successful in northern Arizona. He is serious about two things—his responsibility to the family and his future marriage to a goal of a wealthy, well-connected widow who will secure his place in the territory’s destiny
Katherine is determined to live the life she’s dreamed about. With a job waiting for her in the growing town of Los Angeles, California, the young teacher from Philadelphia begins a journey across the United States with only a couple of trunks and her spinster companion. Life is perfect for this adventurous, beautiful young woman, until an accident throws her into the arms of the one man who can destroy it all.

Fighting his growing attraction and strong desire for the beautiful stranger, Niall is more determined than ever to push emotions aside to focus on his goals of wealth and political gain. But looking into the clear, blue eyes of the woman who could ruin everything, Niall discovers he will have to harden his heart and be tougher than he’s ever been in his life…Tougher than the Rest.

Note: The author/publisher provided a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

My Review: A traumatic event in Niall's childhood drives him to seek out security at all costs. He's suffered great loss in his life and is willing to sacrifice his own happiness in order to guarantee the continued success of the family ranch--even if it means marrying a cold, calculating widow with good connections and adjoining land. Kate seeks adventure in the west, but her plans are derailed when a carriage accident steals her memory. Now she finds herself attracted to Niall, a rough, tough rancher who tries to fight his own feelings for the stranger who seems to fit into his family's life so easily. But, can Niall risk his plans to give his heart to someone who might already belong to another?

Ms. Davies has created a story with unforgettable characters, a rich setting, and multiple subplots that take this book to a new level. This is historical romance at its best with scenes ranging from sweet to sensual. Even though I don't usually seek out Western romances, I want to grab every book in this genre that I can find and just devour them. Admittedly, I'm already halfway through the next book in the MacLarens of Fire Mountain series. Honestly, I'd recommend you buy both books at once, because once you finish Tougher Than the Rest, you'll immediately want to start on the next book.

I love the MacLaren brothers and their whole extended family. I've grown attached to these wonderful characters and the whole town. I found myself rooting for Niall and Kate and wishing for a true, lasting love between them. They're both believable, likable characters who care about family, children, and community. I don't know what the author has planned for the series, but there are four brothers and I hope to see a book dedicated to each of them. And, then there are other folks in town who deserve a love connection... maybe I'm getting ahead of myself. Regardless, I've found a new author to stalk. I'll definitely buy any book she writes.

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars