Bridget OíToole is wondering what happened to her husband, there as been no word, and no one has seen him. She is determined to go on and raise their newborn son on her own.
Fast forward twelve years:
Bridget is slowly fading away. There has only been enough money to feed one person; she has made sure her son has received all the food. They have drifted from town to town, people have treated her terribly, and they believe she is a fallen woman, not a widow.
Jamie Ryan is worried sick about his sister Maggie, she was returning with papers he needed to have to prove he was the owner of his ranch; otherwise the bank will take it from him. When he catches Mick, Bridgetís son, trying to rustle his cattle, he learns the reason why Mick did what he did.
Jamie has always taken in strays, just like the former owner of the ranch did for him. He gives Bridget and Mick a place to stay. He hopes it will give Bridget a chance to get well and for Mick to learn there is a better life than being a cattle rustler. When Maggie shows up at long last, she helps take care of Bridget and running the house. Bridget is a proud woman, and after she recovers she takes over the cooking and cleaning chores, even though Jamie didnít like it. He felt she was not strong enough yet, but Bridget needs to earn her keep. Of course, the townspeople think there is more going on than just cleaning.
Bridget does not want to get involved with Jamie or any other man; she does not trust them for good reason. Jamie also does not want to get involved; he was burned once before by a beautiful woman, he is not willing to take a chance again. They circle around each other like cat and mouse. They will both be tested when both of their pasts come face to face with their present.
The Rancherís Heart was an entertaining read. Bridget was an amazing woman; she had to be strong to survive. She had to do what she did in order to raise her son on her own. Jamie was a gentle, kind hearted hero, he was sometimes overprotective, but that was part of his charm. This is a sequel to The Marshalís Destiny. It would benefit the reader to read them in order to get a better sense of the story.