The Drifter by Anna Schmidt

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Caught between a greedy corporation and a desperate love of the land, Maria Porterfield barely has time to mourn her father’s death. If her family is to survive, it’ll be up to her to take charge – but she can’t do it alone. When a mysterious drifter rides into town, the handsome cowboy seems like an answer to her prayers. But Chet isn’t interested in settling down, no matter how tempting the offer…

Chet made his way West looking for a fresh start-the last thing he wants is to get involved in someone else’s fight. But something about Maria awakens a powerful need to protect the fierce beauty at all costs. He never thought he’d find love, but as danger presses in, he may find there’s more beyond the next horizon than just another long and dusty trail.

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Publisher and Release Date: Sourcebooks Casablanca, September 2015

RHR Classifications:
Time and Setting: 1882, Arizona Territory
Genre: Western Historical Romance
Heat Level: 2
Reviewer Rating: 4 stars

Review by Jill

Chet Hunter has had to leave Florida in a hurry. Working his way to California where he plans to settle down on his own land, he arrives in Arizona Territory looking for work. Troubles are piling up for Maria Porterfield on her Clear Springs Ranch, and now with her ranch foreman leaving, she is trying desperately to keep her late father’s ranch operational.

With water problems, raids, a dead father, an older brother who’s run off, a mentally ill mother, and a younger sister and brother to care for, Maria is as she has to be, a tough and resilient woman. But she’s young and unprepared for the task of running the ranch. Chet may be a quiet, soft-spoken drifter who’s hiding his past, but he’s also a man who can step up and take responsibility when needed.

The large Tipton Brothers Company ranch that borders Maria’s land has already bought up several ranches in the area. With raids on her herd and a dwindling water supply, suspicion falls on the Tiptons. But someone from Maria’s own men may be helping them.

Very much a classic range-wars western, The Drifter is a very well-written, action-packed story. Set in 1882, the descriptions of the setting are vivid and detailed. Anna Schmidt’s descriptions of the ranch and its workings are wonderful, and the story of the tensions in the community and town are realistic. But the romance itself doesn’t quite have enough spark for me. I’m all for a slow build to the relationship, but Chet and Maria’s romance is too slow-moving for my taste; I prefer more of a balance between the romance and the historical setting. Nevertheless, I’ll be lining up for the next in the series, as Anna Schmidt is a very good historical writer and conveys the era and setting of the West with skill and depth.

The Drifter is the first novel by Ms Schmidt that I have read, and I enjoyed it a lot. Recommended for readers who enjoy classic historical western romances.

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