Joy... she's been in prison since she was 14, taking the rap to save her brother. She been shanked numerous times. Her very own father has sent people to kill her. She's never known love. The only love she's ever known has been for a family that wants her dead. Can you imagine the turmoil this woman goes through?
She's released on a special work program to help on a ranch, owned by Stamos. At first, Stamos wants to send her packing. He only has men on his ranch. But Joy, something about her touches him in the brief amount of time she's waylaid and in his care.
He can't bear to see her back in prison and he marries her to help her out, but he's falling for her and she's falling for him..but then his ex comes back and there's a child to consider and holy smokes, all this stuff happens. Joy is torn. The longer she stays, the worse she makes Stamos's life. He could lose his child because of her. His horses and cattle are being slaughtered as her father and brother try repeatedly to kill her. The only way out of this mess is to clear her name...but she's afraid to talk. Maybe going back to jail would be the best thing...
There's crazy waitress, the ex, the dad, the brother, some real friendly ranchhands, an evil lady intent on proving the marriage is a sham, a horse that steps in front of a bullet, a man falling in love with a woman who doesn't know how to love... and Joy: tough, hardened, and yet, melting inside.
Very strong woman. The crap she faces is unbelievable and yet she stands tall and proud to live and tell about it. I loved how this book showed us so many sides to her personality. The woman who must survive, the mother she longs to be, and how she experiences relationships outside of prison for the first time. I was very easily able to understand what she was feeling.
Quibbles: Stamos seemed bipolar at times. One second he's yelling at Joy in the barn, the next he's wanting to have sex with her. Joy had her moments, but she had a darn good reason for being the way she was. Stamos confused me at times. There were some tiny things I scratched my head over, like them getting married the very next morning (Pretty sure Texas has a three-day wait) but I figure they got a special case.
I must say though, Ms. Ball's ability to weave a tale and throw a reader for a loop (surprise us) is superb.
Four bikes. I bought this on Amazon.