Read with: Amazon Kindle
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Hero: Luke Stone
Heroine: Hannah Bluefield
Date of Publication: November 17, 2009
Started On: March 23, 2011
Finished On: March 25, 2011
Romances featuring ex-convict heroes are one of my favorite types to read. I got this title off a discussion thread on Amazon and the promising blurb had me acquiring this book into my to-be-read pile. Eons later I suppose, I finally took the plunge and read Loving Luke, and while there were things that could have made this book a better read all around, I still enjoyed reading about Luke’s journey to happily ever after with Hannah.
The story kicks off with Hannah Bluefield going to visit Luke Stone at Deep Mountain Prison to offer the man she has loved all her life who is up for parole a job at her ranch. Hannah dreads finding a miserable and hopeless Luke and instead finds a bleak and hard version of the Luke who had taken over the reins of his family ranch to skyrocket it from thriving to mega successful in a few years. Sentenced to prison for the murder of his wife Chrissy, Luke had been one of the most successful horse trainers in the country before his arrest.
Luke grabs the lifeline that his childhood friend Hannah throws at him though marriage to any woman or giving up his heart once again to be trampled all over is not on his agenda. Luke is determined to remain celibate throughout their marriage, until he can prove his innocence and walk out of Stone Crossing for good, forever. Hannah dreams of finally achieving her dreams of having Luke in her arms and her life for good when Luke doesn’t even remember what took place between them 12 years back, the night she had given up her virginity to the only man she has ever loved.
Life is far from idyllic when the one man who pursued the avenue of Luke doing time for murder is now the new mayor of Stone Crossing and is determined to send Luke back to where he rightfully belongs. However in Hannah he finds a worthy opponent, who would do anything to keep the man who is her only from going back to prison, even if it means that he would walk out on her once his name is cleared.
A fresh murder in Stone Crossing, similar in M.O. to Chrissy’s have the local police hounding on Hannah’s doorstep making Luke fear that his freedom is going to be a short lived one. Though Luke starts depending on Hannah and considers her his lifeline, Luke has trouble letting go of his past, how he was duped before into loving a woman more than his last breath and continues to reject all his emotions where Hannah is concerned until the very last minute when the turn of events towards the end makes him realize that what he has yearned for since his prison cell door slammed on him 10 years back is right in front of him.
I liked the premise of the story well enough and Luke is a yummy hero to dream about. The horse training business that serves as the backdrop was an interesting one and proves to be something that both Hannah and Luke have an immense talent for. I liked Hannah well enough and considered her mother-tiger-protecting-the-cub routine when it comes Luke an endearing one. Though she wears her heart on the sleeve and would love nothing more than for Luke to return her feelings, that doesn’t stop her from trying to ease Luke’s pain and make him see that if he wants, they could have a wonderful life together. And I reveled in the simmering tension between Hannah and Luke which was of the toe-curling variety and lent the story the spice it so rightfully deserves.
However, even with all those things that I liked, there were a certain things that didn’t work for me in the story. I wanted glimpses of Hannah and Luke’s past which Hannah seems to think about a lot. I wanted to know how she fell in love with him, and I wanted Luke’s fascination with Hannah which had started when he was 20 years old to come to the spotlight as well. These issues were just skimmed over, the momentous night in which Hannah gave herself up to Luke all but forgotten and his proposal to Chrissy the very next day just mentioned. The emotions both Hannah and Luke had felt would have made this story a much better read with insights into their shared past lending the story what it needs to make this a 5-star read. But nevertheless, Loving Luke is a good read, recommended for fans of western romances in a contemporary setting.