Claiming Mariah by Pam Hillman

978-1-4143-8095-7In light of her father’s death, Mariah Malone sends a letter that will forever alter the lives of her family. When Slade Donovan, strong willed and eager for vengeance, shows up on her front porch, Mariah is not ready to hear his truths: her father’s farm, the only home she’s ever known, was bought with stolen gold. With Slade ready to collect his father’s rightful claim and force Mariah and her family out on the streets, Mariah must turn to God for guidance. Though Mr. Frederick Cooper, a local landowner, promises to answer her financial woes if she agrees to be his bride, Mariah finds herself drawn instead to the angry young man demanding her home.

With the ranch now under Slade’s careful eye, he will unearth more than he ever imagined as a devious plot of thievery, betrayal and murder threatens more than the well-being of the ranch, endangering the lives of those who hold it dear. With days dwindling until the rest of the Donovan clan arrive to the Lazy M ranch, Mariah and Slade must rise above the resentment of their fathers and see their true feelings before greed alters their futures forever.

I have been looking forward to this book since I finished Stealing Jake back in 2011. It was a long wait, but well worth it.

I don’t have many words. No literary bent on this character or that. No in-depth opinion on the plot or setting. Just, wow!

Okay, so maybe I’ll say a little.

Mariah is such a gentle, watchful spirit. Her discernment and caring heart, along with her grandmother’s wise guidance are what propel this story from beginning to end. Mariah is not an overpowering, full-of-sass kind of character who demands much. In fact, she asks for little and gives her all. And THAT is what makes her one of the most powerful heroines I’ve read in a long while.

She is the perfect balm for Slade’s wounded heart. I love the way Hillman uses a wayward, distrusting cat as an image of Slade.

Slade appears rough on the exterior but turns out to be a very giving, loving man. He’s a quiet sort of man, yet he leads, not with boisterous commands but by example, which earns him loyalty from those who come to know him.

Hillman does a great job using the supporting cast to bring Slade into the true knowledge of Christ, by showing him how to release his resentment and anger, by showing him how to forgive. She also creates such a vivid picture of Wisdom and the Lazy M Ranch it’s as if I was a part of the story, not just a watcher.

I just absolutely loved this book. It kept me up into the wee hours of the morning.

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