Rating: 4 stars out of 5
When Connor’s spinster sister, Millie, marries a scheming money-hungry man who immediately takes steps to control the ranch Connor and his sister inherited when their father died a month ago, there’s little he can do to hang on to his share of the ranch. His only choice is to get his share of the cattle to market before his scheming brother-in-law, Percy, takes the rest of the herd. And Percy has already secured passage on the barge that goes to the town where the annual auction will take place, so Connor’s only choice is to take his cattle through Mason Canyon. The problem is that it’s in the territory of the local shifter clan, and the canyon is heavily populated by very large, very venomous snakes.
Keena, his father’s longtime foreman, is half shifter and arranges for the son of the new clan chief to accompany Connor and get him through the canyon safely. Shifters aren’t known for being helpful to others but the new chief sees this as a test for his son’s abilities and finds it an opportunity to help a neighbor who has coexisted peacefully with the clan for years.
Along the journey, the very quiet Rani finally opens up to Connor when Connor offers to teach him to ride his stallion. Can the two men ever find a common ground when it becomes obvious they are attracted to each other? Can they get the herd through the canyon without casualties from snakes or flooding? And more importantly, does Connor have any future without his ranch but with the possibility of having Rani at his side?
It’s amazing that the author was able to build a complex story which took place in multiple locations and still build three-dimensional characters, who were tough, yet gentle, and apparent enemies who manage to become lovers—all within a short 56 pages. All of the above questions are answered and there’s even more drama than what’s mentioned. The shifter population was different from the usual, and the form Rani shifted into is quite unexpected and unique. I really enjoyed this couple and would like to read more about them in the future. This novella could easily serve as the first book in a very interesting series, and if it does, I hope we get to see more of Connor and Rani as they make a commitment to remain together against all odds.
Cover art by Cari Z is a very clever depiction of a cowboy silhouetted against a cloudy, orange-tinted sky. When one looks closely, a very long snake can be seen in the background of the clouds. This is the perfect depiction of Connor who has to make his way through the dangerous snake’s territory.
ebook, 56 pages
Published January 13th 2016 by Less Than Three Press
Edition LanguageEnglishsettingOklahoma Territory (United States)