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A Lionís Share by Ruby Kennard takes place in the Black Hills of South Dakota, a rather unusual setting for a romance, and one which I enjoyed. Ms. Kennard does a better than credible job describing the scenery and life on a western ranch, but can love bloom and grow on the western plains?
Tamara Hansen has returned to her fatherís ranch, the Timberose Cattle Company in South Dakota, for the reading of his will and disposition of goods after his unexpected death. This was her home as a child, and she had loved it and adored her father. Unfortunately, her mother, a ballet star, didnít find life in South Dakota fulfilling. When Tamara was still a child, her mother left the wilds of the west for the wilds of New York City, taking Tamara with her. Although Tamara longed to live with her father, she found herself cut off totally. No letters came from home, no words of love or desire to see her. Instead, her father took in a half breed boy to live on the ranch. In Tamaraís mind, that boy, Cole Ransome, replaced her in her father's mind and heart. She came to hate him for it. Now she faces him as an adult.
Cole Ransome was taken in by Jake Hansen when he was a young orphan with nowhere else to go. Jake gave him love, stability, and instilled a love for the Timberose to match his love of the land. Cole loved Jake fiercely, and totally resents the women whom he perceives as hastening Jakeís illness and death by heart attack. He blames Leda, Jakeís former wife, for being a selfish, grasping woman who did nothing but cause Jake aggravation, and Tamara for ignoring and forgetting her father, even in his illness. When the two women arrive for the disposition of Jakeís will, he is less than polite. And he knows something about Jakeís will that the women donít.
When itís revealed that Jake had made Cole a full partner in the ranch long before he died, and that he left his half of the business to Tamara, sparks fly. Cole wants to buy Tamara out. When he presents her with a more than fair offer, heís surprised and infuriated that she turns him down. Tamara is determined to stay on the ranch, the place she has held in her memory as ďhome.Ē
There are secondary stories. Cole and Tamara are pulled together by an inexplicable attraction they canít deny, then are pushed apart by the accidental conception of their child. There is a mountain lion encroaching on ranch land and killing stock, and there is a mystery related to illegal traps set on ranch property.
I liked the storyline of A Lionís Share very much. I enjoyed Coleís character and understood his actions more than I did Tamaraís. However, I did find that Coleís and Tamaraís characters became a little tiring after a point. This isnít a short book and I wanted them to come to grips with their feelings long before they did. The mystery of the traps on Timberose was handled well, while I found the mountain lion threat ended a little strangely. Being a romantic at heart, I was happy when Coleís emotional fences began to fall and Tamara came to trust him fully. This part of the story was beautifully handled by Ms. Kennard.
A Lionís Share is a good book that would have been improved with a little better editing, but a good story nonetheless. If you enjoy romance mixed with horses, the open spaces and the wide western sky, then give A Lionís Share a try.