Heart of Stone
Title : Heart of Stone
Author : Ari McKay
Publisher : Dreamspinner Press (BUY HERE)
Genre : M/M, Western, Historical
Length : 200 pages (e-book)
Published : June 3, 2013
Stone Harrison never knew he had an aunt; he certainly never expected her to bequeath him one of the largest spreads in central Nevada. But something about Copper Lake Ranch and its foreman, Luke Reynolds, speaks to him, offering a chance for the home he’s never really had.
Luke wants Stone to succeed as a rancher and put the legacy of his shiftless father behind him, but he’d also like Stone to share his bed. Unfortunately, Stone is convinced that the world is a harsh place that will never accept two men sharing their lives. Much to Luke’s dismay, he refuses to risk Luke’s life despite the intense attraction they share.
The tension between them escalates when a series of calamities strikes Copper Lake. An unexpected and unwelcome visit from Stone’s dandified cousin, James, only makes things worse. Stone’s ability to run the ranch comes into question, but the threat of losing it means less to Stone than the threat to Luke’s life. Stone will do anything it takes to protect the man he loves—even if it makes him a murderer.
Heart of Stone by Ari McKay is a historical western romance with a bit of mystery. Set in the late 1800’s in Nevada, it is a mix of old west with the new amenities that are becoming more common, such as indoor plumbing and an icebox. The story has a nice mix of western ranch life, small town living, mixed with what would be considered a forbidden romance especially during this time period.
Stone Harrison is a cowboy, working on a ranch in Texas when he receives a letter stating that he has inherited a large ranch in Nevada from an Aunt he has never met. He has doubts about being able to manage a large ranch but he is determined to not shrug his responsibilities like his father. Stone’s father was an abusive alcoholic that beat both him and his mother. He also grew up being targeted for his mixed heritage as he is one quarter Pawnee.
Upon arriving at the ranch he is greeted by the foreman Luke Reynolds. Luke feels an immediate attraction to Stone but Stone is not one to trust people, especially with his secrets. As Luke and Stone get to know one another Luke shares his own secret with Stone. Stone is surprised but knows from experience that this is not something he can pursue.
I thought the attraction, friendship and fear of what could happen to Luke and Stone was presented thoughtfully and realistically. The author adds a bit of mystery when a series of accidents start taking place at the ranch as well as the unwelcome visit from a cousin from back east. These events add another element to the story that allows the bond between Luke and Stone to develop.
One of the secondary characters that I enjoyed was Miss Agnes, the daughter of the town physician. Although described as homely, she is intelligent, kind and observant. Her role throughout the story did not lead where I thought it might and the turn was a surprise that I thought maybe not plausible. Her role had a definite impact on Luke and Stone’s life and their future.
I love books with a western theme and this one with romance and mystery was enjoyable. Luke and Stone are likable characters and the development of their relationship satisfying. I had reservations regarding how much scrutiny the two men or women would have had from the town or the hands on the ranch unless they were careless in some way.
Rated 3 stars by Deb