After a long absence, wounded veteran Brady McAllister returns to his family’s ranch. Once there, he finds his mother and twin brother dead and his surviving brothers none too happy about his return. Despite the loss of his leg and his family difficulties, Brady is determined to find his place on the ranch. There’s one more complication: Gemma, his brother’s beautiful widow. Brady let her go long ago, but he still has feelings for her, and as much as she denies it, she feels the same. Gemma may be just the thing to heal Brady’s wounds, even though it might hurt at the same time.
At first glance, IN HIS BROTHER’S PLACE seems like just another Western romance novel. And in some ways, it is. Fortunately, author M. Lee Lederhos is a competent writer who juggles all the parts in a fresh, appealing way. The story feels new despite its reliance on Western tropes, and the plot moves along at a good pace. It should be noted that there are several small typos, but this does not detract from the reader’s experience.
The characterization is spot-on. Brady is a good brooding hero, honorable, and earnest. Gemma is a gem of a character, and her chemistry with Brady sparkles throughout, making readers root for them to be together. Villains come in the form of Brady’s angry brothers and a veterinarian with his eye on Gemma who won’t take no for an answer. Other strong characters include Gemma’s son Jamie, Brady’s kind brother Tyson, and father figure, Conn, who provides a voice of reason amid all the drama.
Also of note is Lederhos’s treatment of the Colorado landscape. Her descriptions of the rough and rugged Western land gives the reader a real sense of being present. Plus, there’s a lot of great information about horses and building houses that shows she did her research and the rich details of cowboy life and animals makes IN HIS BROTHER’S PLACE a fun read.
M. Lee Lederhos is an excellent storyteller and IN HIS BROTHER’S PLACE is eloquent and elegant where it might otherwise have been trite and cliched.
~Heather McNamara for IndieReader