My review contains spoilers and they're mostly my thoughts...
Linda Broday’s To Love a Texas Ranger is a brand new western historical romance and book 1 of her Men of Legend series. I’ve been waiting for this one because I read and loved other western historical series, Bachelors of Battle Creek.
Much like Bachelors of Battle Creek, Men of Legend will focus on a family or a ‘band of brothers’ if you can call them. Even though, the brothers of Bachelors of Battle Creek series weren’t brothers by blood, these Legends brothers certainly are! The first book focuses on Sam Legend, a Texas Ranger, estranged from his family for a while because of his job.
Sam Legend always knew he had a wanderer’s soul and the job of a Texas Ranger suited him just fine. Even though his father, Stoker, is one of the richest Ranchers living out there with miles and miles worth of lands and kettle, Sam knew ranching isn’t his call. His elder brother, Houston, was doing great on that regard. However, things weren’t as it seemed. The bond between the father and the brothers were thin, something deteriorated since their mother’s passing some 17yrs. ago. It’s then their father started drinking, becoming way too focused on acquiring more lands and kettle, making more money than caring for his sons. Everyone knew that grief did it to him but that was no excuse. Sam wanted out and even with his father’s protests he got out as soon as he could. Stoker let him, knowing he can’t stop him. After all, he’s a Legend and they are a stubborn lot.
Sam though, didn’t think any of his family approved of what he chose to be his profession until he was well into it. His father wasn’t the type of show off his affection and Sam had a volatile relationship with Houston. The last time he visited family, that was years ago, he had an ugly fight with Houston, who was frustrated being holed up in the Ranch to do his duty as the eldest, rather than seeing anything of the world like Sam was; at least the greater Texas. Stoker does surprise Sam by showing his approval in a way he expected the least. That was quite the bittersweet visit.
But when he’s caught by an unknown enemy while doing his job alone, Sam discovered that his luck has run out. That mean SOB and his men decided they wanted Sam to hang, a fate that’d be theirs if Sam caught them. It would’ve been the most horrible way to go, and Sam was feeling about everything that a dying man probably could; the pain, the confusion, the anger, then the gut-wrenching realization that he’d never see his father and brother again, with that came the regret of not reconciling with them when he had the time. Sam was feeling it all.......
Then, suddenly, came some sort of divine intervention! The enemy left leaving him chocking but someone was watching him from afar, a fact Sam knew. Sam also knew who it was, an outlaw he’s been searching for but was unable to capture—Luke Weston. It was frustrating but he didn’t understand this weird dance he’d been dancing with the outlaw. It seemed, knowing he’s wanted and will hang for his crimes, Luke was always around, somewhere and Sam could detect him with his fine Ranger’s instinct. However, when Sam caught up with him, Luke would always find a way to escape and disappear. Then when times like this, Sam needed help and backup, Luke was helping him from afar. He’d helped him before and he was here today as well. The last thing Sam saw before losing consciousness was a pair of green eyes staring down at him. He knew those eyes quite well.
It’s been a month ad Sam hasn’t forgotten anything about that horrible day. PTSD has set in. Sam felt disoriented, would jump at shadows. There were nightmares causing sleepless nights. And all of these were hampering his performance as a Ranger, a fact his boss had already pointed out. One day, he calls Sam to tell him to take a few days off. He stresses for Sam to go back home and rest. But Sam doesn’t take this easily. He was already in a bad mood because earlier, he thought he’d seen something— a distressed woman pursued by a man. But because it was raining heavily, he couldn’t determine if he really saw something or was it just another false alarm like the ones he’s been having for the past year. His boss’s was an order, something he’s going to have to obey. Like it or, Sam Legend was temporarily dismissed from his duty. Now what will he do? Returning to the Ranch didn’t sound appealing but maybe it’s time to go back and make amends with his father and brother.
But before he could think of anything else, Sam comes across the same woman, as if fate has arranged them to meet again when she’s rather unceremoniously dumped on his lap. And from that moment on, Sierra Hunt becomes Sam’s responsibility in every way possible. Sam figures out soon enough what he’d seen that day wasn’t wrong. Sierra was indeed being pursuit by a band of criminals. Sierra’s brother, Rocky, used to run a newspaper. He went missing before that and Sierra had no idea if he was even alive after all these months. Then they came for her, asking for the copy of a map she had no idea about. Since then, Sierra had tried escaping a few times, finally succeeding. But the criminals weren’t far behind. Sam gets a hold of the situation from his almost infallible Ranger instinct and becomes her protector instantly.
But behind them was another man and Sam couldn’t tell who he was. A man who was trying to help them get away. He seemed familiar but Sam couldn’t figure out who he was...until they’re out of those men’s range and the man catches up with him. His green eyes seemed so familiar that Sam feels a déjà vu coming. All three of them take shelter planning on their next move to get Sierra to safety. And that has to be Lone Star Ranch, Stoker’s place. It would the safest place for anyone with Stoker having his own band of trained men constantly checking the perimeter. Sam was already feeling overprotective of Sierra, who seemed to have the deepest faith on Sam Legend, the famous Ranger. It was also true that people knew Sam by his fabulous work in capturing branded criminals. They also knew he’d cheated certain death. Sam wouldn’t call himself Lazarus but what he’d gone through, he wouldn’t wish it on anyone. He was also hating the other man flirting with Sierra constantly, calling her “dulce” every so often. :D
Soon enough Sam figures out the man accompanying them. It WAS Luke Weston, the criminal he’s supposed to arrest and transport. But he’s also the man who saved his life more than once. Sam was indebted to him. When confronted, Luke readily acknowledges that he’s, indeed, who Sam is looking for. The animosity between them was palpable but it wasn’t laden with acrid hatred. It was something they couldn’t figure out. Sierra comes between them before they could come to blow and requests them to think clearly. They need to move away from here, far from those outlaws. Sam decides it’d be for the best to head towards his father’s Ranch, then figure out what to do about this new situation. But their journey isn’t quite smooth. Those men catch up with them and Luke is injured. When they finally reach the ranch, Stoker had already gotten news that he was coming from his men. The criminals were already in pursuit but backs off seeing Stoker, Houston and their men.
Stoker and Houston couldn’t believe Sam had come home finally, even if he stunk to high heaven! Both were more than eager to resolve their differences, as was Sam. They had heard of his almost hanging and been worried about him ever since.
Things were about to get even complicated for the Legend family. Whereas Sierra was welcomed with an open arm, which she appreciated a lot, Luke wasn’t so good. In fact, Sam didn’t understand his mood all that much. An even bigger, more surprising truth was about to be revealed, an incident Luke himself puts into motion. I already had my suspicions about it and finally got it confirmed when Luke got caught in Stoker’s library, doing something in the night. Sam and Houston were concerned despite themselves about keeping a known outlaw like Luke around for several reasons; one was being robbed by him, which initially what it seemed like. But it wasn’t. In fact, Luke was placing something on Stoker’s desk; a memento Stoker recognized the moment he laid eyes on it.
From there it was confirmed by Stoker himself that Luke had to be his son! That he had a Mexican sweetheart for a while, even wanted to marry her but things weren’t on their side. They were forced to separate, never to see each-other again. A heartbroken Stoker then returned to his ranch and married Sam and Houston’s mother. So, in that regard, Luke is his eldest son, who also happen to possess Stoker’s green eyes. It also makes Luke the heir, not Houston. So yeah, to say it came as a surprise to the bothers was kind of an understatement. Both Sam and Houston had no idea how to react at that point. Questions were swirling in their heads. Did their father cheat on their mother (before Stoker cleared the ‘timeline’ out)? Did he even love their mother, when it seemed his love for his Mexican Senorita was much deeper, whom he even called his true love? What now? Does Luke want his share of the inheritance? Why the hell has he been trailing Sam? Was it only because he already knew of their relationship or was there something else in there?
Whatever it was, the bothers do accept Luke quite easily into their folds. Only he himself wasn’t that easy to deal with. Luke was moody, prone to anger and kept his distance, his deep-seated dislike for Stoker and his money quite palpable. Of course, he was angry! Luke lived in poverty all his life, as his mother had, who worked menial jobs until her death support them when his supposed father was richer than Croesus himself. He had to turn bad to survive, forge his own way into the world whereas his brothers had a home and security he’d never known. It wasn’t something someone takes easily. However, Stoker was repentant and wanted his son back. He wanted to be a father even if it seemed too late to be one to Luke. If only Luke would give them a chance...
Even when Sam and the rest try to find out a way to deal with these outlaws pursuing Sierra, something more intimate begins blossoming between them, which seemed inevitable since their first meeting. But there were also quite a bit of misunderstanding. Sam was determined to carry on as a Ranger, which is not only a difficult job but also quite dangerous. He didn’t want to settle down, then leave a family behind. I thought, from his POV, it was logical. However, Sierra was already halfway in love with him, as was Sam himself. He wanted it, but didn’t know if he can have it so he kept pushing Sierra away. Sierra understood his POV too, yet it didn’t hurt any less. She was quite heartbroken by his behavior.
Stoker and the rest wanted her to be here as long as she felt comfortable after her pursuers are dealt with but Sierra was becoming ever more determined to leave ASAP. She couldn’t endure anymore of Sam’s rejection. She didn’t have a great childhood. A tragedy took 2 lives in her family. Her father was quite aloof and distant. He was also, for some reason, quite mean to Sierra and blamed her for everything which caused hurt and insecurity so deep that she had self-esteem issues. Sam’s behavior didn’t help matters at all. She wanted nothing but to have her own family. She didn’t want a wondering life or a waiting wife always scared of something happening to her husband, exact opposite of the life Sam could give her. So she begins thinking she’s not good enough for anyone, so why would Sam want to settle down with her? It seems odds are always stacked against her.
Trouble following Sierra eventually finds them again, this time they manage to kidnap Sierra. Sam not only had to deal with this, but also watched Luke siding with those outlaws which broke his heart twice in one day. The betrayal of it shocked him. It seemed there was no redemption possible for his new found half-brother. But he needed to save Sierra, whom he knew he had come to love despite everything that had gone on between them and all the things he’d told himself to stay away from her. Sierra grounded him, took away his nightmares. He hadn’t felt this good ever since his almost hanging. Sam knew he needed her in his life and this time, he’d fight tooth and nail to get the love of his life back. And when he does, he’s never letting her go.
With some great actions and twisted revelations, we’re also given a hint of what’s to come next. I’m still not sure if the next book is Luke’s or not but I’d definitely like to find out. He was one hot guy and I find myself wanting to be the object of his intense green stare. Oh boy! :P
As for this one, I liked everything...almost. One thing that bugged me half the story was the dialogue between Sam and Sierra. Since they started falling for each-other, their dialogue and interactions began to sound too cheesy for my liking. :/ I may have rolled my eyes once or twice. But this is definitely a matter of personal preference so don’t let me deter you from trying To Love a Texas Ranger out. Linda Broday writes about very down-to-earth, honorable men who are extremely protective of their loved ones and will do anything for them. I love this trait, which makes all her books worth a shot. As you can see, Sam was no different. :) 3.5 stars.