|It isn’t often one picks up a western anymore that creates the feeling of the real West. This entry by Leigh Greenwood, who is known for his westerns, does a decent job of capturing life in Texas after the Civil War, even if it is more about the romance. There is nothing new here, but I enjoyed When Loves Comes and never had a hard time picking up the book when I put it down.
Amanda Liscomb has a lot of responsibility. Her father died and left a ranch to her brothers, Gary and Eddie, and herself. Their mother, Grace, was a southern belle from Mississippi and often thinks the world should treat her like one now. She convinced her husband to buy the ranch so she had a home she could be proud of. It didn’t matter that Aaron Liscomb was more comfortable owning a saloon and diner in town. So Aaron bought the ranch and a bull in an attempt to keep Grace in the manner that she wanted. Then he got himself killed. Now a year has passed and things are not going well. Amanda has to work the ranch and serve as a singer/waitress at the saloon to help make ends meet. Gary is only 17 and he hates the ranch and cows, so is less than helpful. He, too, works at the saloon and if he had any say, they would get rid of the ranch altogether. Eddie likes the horses. and at just 12 years old is really not a big help. To top it off, there are two neighboring ranchers who don’t hide the fact they want the pasture land owned by the Liscombs and these two do everything they can to harass the hired hands.
Amanda doesn’t have many choices. Her only alternative is to marry her father’s old partner, Corby Wilson. Corby is older and Amanda does not love him; in fact she barely likes him.She is proud and is determined to make the ranch work. All they have to do is make it for a few months until the calves from their bull grow big enough to sell. But the bull keeps getting out of its pen, causing problems with the other ranchers. The two hands that have kept on working for her are both younger boys and neither knows a lot about ranching. A stranger has come to town, adding to their stress. It doesn’t help that she is wildly attracted to this stranger despite his scars.
Broc Kinkaid was a Rebel soldier who was disfigured during an ambush. His friends helped him survive and he is now in Texas heading to a friend’s ranch. He was arrested in a nearby town for fighting and sentenced to jail. The judge told him he could avoid jail if he collected a debt for a widow who never got paid for her bull. The debt is owed by the Liscombs.
Broc comes to the Lazy T ranch to discover that the man who bought the bull is dead and his family, primarily his daughter, knows nothing about the debt. They were told that the ranch, including the bull, was theirs free and clear. She had no papers from her father. While Broc sympathizes, he doesn’t want to do jail time. So he suggests she seek out the judge and try to clear up the matter, but meanwhile he would wait so he could collect the payment. Once Broc spends time in town, he realizes that first, there is something fishy about the bull getting out all the time and the two ranchers harassing Amanda. Second he realizes that she is being pressured by Corby and he doesn’t like it. And third, he finds he is attracted to Amanda. He knows his face will keep her from feeling mutual attraction, but he stays to help her out.
Broc and Amanda are a fine couple and their road to love is very much a tame one. They spend a great deal of time getting to know each other and share minimal kisses along the way. The story is at time a little convoluted, especially when one of the ranchers starts acting crazy and openly threatening. But by this time, Broc and Amanda are having a romance and it is one the reader can enjoy. The distractions are many and at times, the story starts to bog down. Luckily, the author keeps pushing the emphasis back to the romance and not on all the distractions, keeping the reader engaged in reaching the happy ending.
When Love Comes is a story that shows some glimpses of Reconstruction Texas, shows some of the hardships of ranching in Texas and offers a look at adversities many had to overcome. Mostly it is a romance that is enjoyable, even if it doesn’t break any new ground.