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Friday, October 23, 2009

Love thy Neighbor by Patricia Bates

Love thy Neighbor by Patricia Bates
Publisher: Champagne Books
Genre: Historical Western
Length: Full (249 pages)
Heat: Spicy
Rating: 3.5 Books
Reviewed by Camellia

Rylee Parys, like her father and grandfather is a small time rancher with a big time problem. Embroiled in a bitter war over water and land, she stands alone against her neighbors who are dismayed to have a woman in control.

Ex-cavalry officer, Tom Duncan has returned home after the bloody civil war only to find himself in the middle of another war. Pitted against a slim, boyish looking woman, he’s uncertain who to believe. When the hostility boils over and becomes physical, Tom must make a stand.

As the clues add up these two bitter opponents must rely on each other to save not only their way of life – but the love that has grown between them.

Rylee berates herself. “Why did I let him get to me?” Her head doesn’t realize it yet, but her heart says, “You love your enemy, and there ain’t a darn thing you can do about it”.

Rylee Parys, a young, unmarried woman, controls the water that makes the valley around Clearwater, Colorado a prosperous farm and ranch community. She has been shunned all her life because she lives a different life style than most women. However, like her now-dead father, Rylee has never denied water to any of her neighbors. Yet, a few warped males with private agendas set the community against her with a list of “what if’s”.

Tom Duncan, war-weary comes home to his ranch seeking peace, but finds all the makings of a range war brewing with his ranch in the fore of the conflict. His alcoholic brother Darrell and Uncle Richard have let the ranch rundown until it is not the prosperous ranch it once was. However, Sam, the old foremen is still holding things together.

Tom hears Richard, Darrell, and many of the ranch hands grumble about Rylee’s mustang herd and her control of the water. He remembers the little Rylee of his childhood that tagged along after the boys wanting to play and then the Rylee of his youth that he and the other boys treated badly. He wants to right the wrongs of time past, but when he shows up on her property, she meets him with a gun. She tells him his men are the ones who damage her crops and threaten her livelihood when all she wants is to be left along to tend her livestock and crops.

She confesses to herself that she has never gotten over her crush on Tom Duncan. Their encounters are fraught with anger and frustration; yet, the emotionally charged undercurrent of sexual attraction will not subside. It finally boils over. Rylee runs from Tom in shame and he realizes, “In a moment of weakness he’d played with something, with someone who should never have been toyed with… he had to fix it”. However, hurts, anger, distrust, and subterfuge of others threaten to destroy the love both Rylee and Tom feel for each other. Nothing comes easy for them.

While some actions seem redundant and Rylee’s defense of herself and her home is not what I expected, the story is compelling. Finding out who the primary antagonist is brings an intense turn of events that adds a new layer to the story. But, the hope that kept me turning pages was that Rylee would finally be loved and cherished for who she truly is and that Tom would enjoy true love and rest for his soul.

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