Miracle in a Dry Season    Dangerous Passage

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Petticoat Ranch
by Mary Connealy

Reviewed by April Gardner

"If Connealy continues with this originality of plot and engaging, rollicking dialogue, she'll be a fast rising star among lovers of historical Christian romances."

Clay looked down at her. He was so worried, so kind. Sophie was ashamed of the sneaking she’d been doing. She was going to have to tell the girls she’d been wrong and see that they didn’t learn any bad lessons from their ma. She was going to turn over a new leaf.

She turned her face up, looked at him squarely, and repeated firmly, “I’m going to do as you ask. I promise.”

***

Clay was going to give his wife the spanking she deserved.

He pulled her close up against his chest so she couldn’t see his expression. He was pretty sure that what she’d see was disgust. He was disgusted with himself for tricking the poor, foolish, little female into promising to mind him by using such wily methods as sweet talk and gentle touches.

He was finally figuring it out. Women weren’t really that much trouble to manage. They needed to be handled like a fractious horse for the most part. A firm hand mixed with patience, careful training, and a pat now and then.

~ excerpt from Petticoat Ranch


It is rugged 1860’s Texas, and Sophie Edwards is widowed with a herd of little girls to care for. A band of land-hungry outlaws has chased her from her husband’s ranch and sent her hiding in a shack in the middle of a thicket.

When a stranger takes a spill from his horse in the nearby creek bed, Sophie is on hand to help. In a crazy, yet believable, coincidence the half-dead man turns out to be family.

The theme of this quirky book is the outrageous communication blunders that occur between the sexes. Neither of them knew of the other’s existence previously, but when Clay finds out that his twin brother, by his death, left a wife and three daughters all alone and unprotected, he insists on filling that role.

Much to Sophie’s horror, Clay brings the parson to the shack unannounced. Not feeling she has much choice in the matter, Sophie gives in and decides to go ahead with the impromptu wedding.

Petticoat Ranch is one mind-boggling misunderstanding after another as the two stumble through their first months of marriage. Reclaiming family land and fighting off a gaggle of bandits only adds to the delightful confusion.

Up to this point in his life, Clay has only known men and steers, and he’ll be the first to admit that his new roll of husband and father is more challenging than staying astride a bucking bronco. Can this newfound houseful of females with their chattering and penchant for tears captivate Clay’s elusive softer side?

Sophie’s mulish independence rams headlong into Clay’s chest-full of masculine pride. Being in charge is a hard thing to relinquish, but Sophie really is giving it her best shot. Well…mostly.

So continues this hilarious account of a man and a woman scrambling to understand each other as they sort their hodgepodge marriage into something more doable.

Petticoat Ranch might be humorously described as a fiction version of, Gray’s Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus. Connealy ends most every scene with a glimpse into Sophie’s thoughts and begins the next with Clay’s. The two are always complete opposites.

For being Connealy’s debut novel, Petticoat Ranch is excellent. If she continues with this originality of plot and engaging, rollicking dialogue, she’ll be a fast rising star among lovers of historical Christian romances.

This sidesplitting western begins with a hook certain to satisfy even the fussiest of readers. Personally, you couldn’t have pried it from my clutches through the first three chapters, if you’d waved the “vile-smelling Hector scarf” in front of my nose. What’s the Hector scarf, you ask? You’ll just have to read and find out for yourself.

Believe me. You won’t regret it.

April GardnerApril W Gardner writes adult and middle grade historical fiction. Her first novel, Wounded Spirits, releases with Vintage Romance Publishing in November of this year. She is a member of ACFW and reviews for Title Trakk, At Home With Christian Fiction, and FIRST Wild Card Blog Tours. A military spouse, April has performed the art of homemaking all over the world. Currently, she lives in Georgia with her darling Hubby. A homeschool mom, she fills her mornings talking fractions and phonics with her two sweet kiddos. In her free time, April enjoys reading, gardening, and DIY. In no particular order, she dreams of owning a horse, visiting all the national parks, and speaking Italian. Visit April's Website or her blog, A Writer's Journey. You can also get to know April on Facebook and Twitter.