Like a cliché, Angela Claire's Heart of Stone reminded me of an old country song about a misguided cowboy sworn off love. But much to Claire’s credit, it was well written and an enjoyable quick read. The story is a timeless one and while Heart of Stone is set in the late 1800s, it could just as well been this century. Which I wish it was because like my followers know, I don't like historical romance. So it takes a lot to capture me in the genre.
Jake Stone moved to Colorado from Boston to have his own ranch. He’s a hard-working, hard-loving kind of man who finds himself at a loss and endears himself to the reader fairly quickly. Soon after moving out west, he’s widowed with a small baby to take care of. With no family in the west, he asks his aunt to come help. But instead of making the trip herself, she sends Melinda O'Chauncey who is more temptation than nanny. Jake immediately wants to send her home since he has no intention of marrying again and can’t eradicate the feelings of lust. Back in this time, that leaves him no option but to keep his hands off of Melinda.
As Jake and Melinda begin to adjust to life together – Jake working the ranch, Melinda caring for his child - life isn’t as simple as settling in. Catching glimpses of Melinda continues to tempt Jake, softening his resolve to stay away. And then Jake’s neighbor, who would do anything to possess Jake’s fortune, threatens their safety. But the very thing that threatens to pull them apart just may be what pushes them together.
Heart of Stone is a nice historical western romance. A handsome hero, the beautiful heroine, the evil villain combine with the difficulty of ranch life in a unique enough plot for a story that holds reader’s attention. The interactions between Jake and Melinda are real, charming and humorous which allows readers to connect with the characters. With a fairly even flow, minus a few scenes that had abrupt and awkward endings, the story rolls along until the very end.
RATING: 4 Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries.
A version of this review was originally posted at The Romance Reviews: