A Heart Renewed
Second book in the Prescott Pioneers series
by Karen Baney
Julia Colter has not had a good life since he father died and left the ranch to Reuben, her oldest brother. Will, the brother she was closest to, was left a share of the cattle and some cash. Julia was left an inheritance too but Reuben held the reigns on that until she became of age. Reuben is a ruthless person and told Will he was no longer welcome living in their ranch so he took his cattle and headed for Arizona, as much as he hated leaving Julia he had no choice. Reuben is a gambler who loses more than he wins, a drinker and can be a violent person.
Will has made a life for himself in in Prescott, AZ, has a large ranch, is married and expecting a child. He is concerned about Julia though because he knows how mean Reuben can be. He is not wrong, Julia soon finds herself facing an arranged marriage to Hiram Norton, a man old enough to be her father, who's as mean, if not worse than Reuben, a drinker, a gambler, and a womanizer. Reuben threatens that if she doesn't go through with the marriage she'll be sorry, she has one month to figure something out. Caroline Larson, her best friend, comes up with a plan. She tells Julia to cause a scene in Church on Sunday accusing Hiram of cheating on her, which he's known to frequent the saloon and 'visit' the ladies so everyone is likely to believe the story, and doing it even before the wedding so she's calling off the engagement. After the confrontation she's to run out jump on Adams's (Caroline's brother) horse and go home. Since it will be a public break up, Reuben can't do anything about it. Julia goes along with the plan not knowing just how Reuben will express his anger.
When Reuben gets his family loaded in the wagon and gets home, Julia pays and it almost costs her her life. If Adam hadn't come for his horse and walked in the house because no one answered the door, Julia would have been choked to death, not to mention the hits she took before that. Adam tries to get Julia to go to the Larson's for safety, but Julia is afraid of what Reuben would do to not only her, but the Larson family. Adam tells her if she ever feels like she needs to leave, day or night, to come to their house and they will protect her.
Some time later Reuben comes up with another rich man he can 'sell' Julia to, so another dinner is planned to announce an engagement. Julia doesn't like Lewis Jamison any better, when they go for their stroll and he gets fresh she fights him off by stomping on the top of his foot and kicking him in the shin then runs into the house and to her room. Mr Jamison tells Reuben that he's not interested so now Reuben has lost two chances to get the money he needs to pay his debts off. Julia is expecting a violent visit from Reuben but instead he goes to town and gets drunk. When he comes home he follows through with the treat to hurt her where people can't see the pain.
Once Julia's sure Reuben is sound asleep she packs a bag, takes a horse and heads to the Larsons. Adam answers her knock and when he sees her he knows that Reuben's worked her over again. Caroline also hears and comes out to comfort her and comes up with a plan. Adam had been getting ready to go to Prescott to work for Will Colter, so Caroline thinks he should get a few things together and with Julia posing as his sister they can travel together to Will's ranch. It takes a little talking but Adam soon realizes that it's the only way to save Julia from Reuben.
When Reuben discovers Julia missing he thinks she's gone to the Larsons so he sends one of his ranch hands to go over there and get her. She isn't there, so then he gives Bates a pile of money so he can go looking for her, suspecting she will try to get to Will in Arizona. Bates locates Adam and Julia Larson in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Bates hearing that they'd married realized he could not kidnap Julia and return her to Reuben and he wasn't sure he'd even get paid if he did, so he gets a wagon and goes along to Prescott in the same wagon train but stays hidden from Julia and Adam.
Julia is so relieved to see her brother, but he looks so much like Reuben will she ever be as close to him as she used to be, will she ever be able to look at him the same again? Will she ever be able to marry and have a family after the way Reuben treated her? Will she ever be able to be 'Julia' again?
I read this on my Kindle and it's the second book in the series, I got hooked on the first page and was hooked for the whole story. I don't think anyone can be disappointed in this book and I would recommend you purchase it right now, you won't be disappointed. There is one more book in the series and a fourth to be released this year, I can hardly wait to see if Karen can top this one.