ROSA’S LAND is the first installment in the Western Justice series by Gilbert Morris. If you enjoy the old west coupled with romance, this is a series for you. Though the cadence in Gilbert Morris’ writing is a bit unique, with the book broken up into four different sections, it was a quirk I was willing to overlook because the characters drew me in.
Lafayette Riordan is a consummate momma’s boy. Raised by his mother to be an artist and student, he is nothing like his tough and ready brother’s. Though Lafayette shows no outward signs of discontent, inwardly he longs to handle a pistol and work alongside the marshals under Judge Isaac Parker’s leadership. His family is shocked when he strikes out on his own to accomplish his dream. Though Lafayette does join up with Judge Parker’s marshals, his only jobs entail shoveling stalls, washing dishes, and cooking. But Lafayette knows one day he will get his chance.
Rosa Ramirez and her family have left Texas behind hoping for an easier life on the Oklahoma ranch of her grandfather’s. But Rosa finds out life is just as hazardous among horse thieves and renegades. When the ranch is ambushed by outlaws and a ranch hand is killed, Rosa asks Judge Isaac Parker for assistance. Rosa is livid when the only help Parker is willing to offer is a fragile looking stable hand.
Rosa does little to hide her disdain for Riordan. But it doesn’t take long for Riordan to prove there is more to him than meets the eye. Quietly, he establishes himself as quite a gunman and slowly earns not only the respect of the Ramirez clan but more importantly Rosa’s admiration. When an outlaw Riordan has bested decides to take revenge, Rosa becomes the pawn he uses against Riordan. It’s up to Riordan to save her, even if it means walking into a trap no man can survive.
I was a little frustrated at first by the way Gilbert writes in sections. There are four distinct parts to this book and Riordan and Rosa don’t meet up until the end of part two. To me it seemed like glorified backstory. But once our hero and heroine met, I was hooked. Riordan is the strong silent type while Rosa is a firecracker. As these two learn how to interact with each other, a slow, thoughtful romance develops. I loved the way Gilbert created such an unassuming character in Riordan, and grew in him all the elements of a true hero. It was a refreshing twist. It’s easy to make a heroine and readers fall in love with tall, dark, and handsome, but it takes talent to make us fall for the qualities that make up a true man.