It's always a pleasure to read a novel by Karen Witemeyer, and this book was no exception! The main characters always draw me in and keep me engaged, and the remaining cast of unique people make the story feel so real. Taking place in a historical time frame that was full of turmoil, Karen does an excellent job of educating her readers on the realities of the time while also keeping it light enough where you can also see the joy. With all that is going on in this world, this is something everyone needs a bit more of.
Captain Matthew Hanger has seen death and destruction during his 13 years of Indian fighting, and the last straw was the battle at Wounded Knee Creek. After that, he gathers up men around him he trusts and dedicates himself to keeping people safe to make up for when he couldn't. During one particularly bad dust-up while protecting a ranch, one of his men is badly injured, and the closest doctor is Dr. Josephine Burkett, of Purgatory Springs. Josephine is used to the surprise of men when they realize she is the doctor and not the nurse of her establishment, but what she's not used to is the fierce attraction she feels towards her patient's friend. She has dedicated her life to saving people, and the last person she should be having feelings for is someone who leads a life of violence. However, when her brother is in trouble and she finds she needs help, it's Matthew to whom she turns, and thus begins an adventure neither of them anticipated.
I really enjoyed both Matthew and Josephine as individuals and as a couple - very realistic, flawed, with honest reactions to every situation. I felt very connected to them and loved seeing their relationship grow as they learned more about each other. Josephine, in particular, had a lot of learning to do about Matthew, given her preconceptions about men like him. He had a lot more honor than she expected, and it didn't take much to see how much good he had within him. Once they started on their journey to rescue her brother, it was clear how important they were becoming to each other. Josephine's brother was a good antagonist, as he showed the stark difference between men of honor and men of greed. Both Matthew and her brother were involved in violence, but one was in it to protect others and the other was in it to protect himself. Perfect writing, that was.
As always, eager to see what comes next! Highly recommend reading Karen's other series while you wait.
**I received a free copy via NetGalley and this is my honest review.**