The more I read THE RANCHER'S SECRET WIFE the more I liked
it. What could have been a fairly ordinary tale of a
hurried Vegas wedding is lifted by the fact of the new
husband's serving overseas and coming home injured. This
is the third in a series but reads well as a standalone.
Reese Cooper married a pregnant young lady in a spontaneous
act of gallantry. She had been abandoned by her gambling
long-term boyfriend and had no family to fall back on.
Reese was about to be posted to Afghanistan and thought
that if something bad happened to him, some good should
come of it. With no dependents he could put his new wife
down for an insurance payout. The intention was that if he
came back safely, they could annul the marriage and each
start afresh. They married quietly in Las Vegas and he
never told anyone.
Cheyenne Jones isn't sure if she's entitled to the name
Cooper, but she turns up in the ranching town of Dawson
because the soldier she wed and wrote to regularly has been
seriously injured, and she wants to see if he is okay. She
has no intention of staying, but with no place to call home
and a baby a couple of months away, it just seems easier to
accept the townsfolk's offers of help. She smartens up an
old hairdressing and barber's salon but doesn't enlighten
anyone as to her circumstances, guessing that Reese might
now be embarrassed.
Reese has been blinded and suffered an arm and spinal
injury. He also suffers from PTSD and flashbacks to combat.
His life on the family ranch has changed utterly and he
doesn't think he can support himself, let alone a lovely
young wife and child, so he introduces Cheyenne as a
friend. Brave enough not to give in, he is doing physical
therapy and accepting help in sorting out everything from
furniture to clothes to food in order that he can live as
independent a life as possible. Turns out he is better off
in his own apartment, as dropped toys or moved furniture in
the family ranch house are potentially dangerous for him.
But he can't drive.
Neither Reese nor Cheyenne wants to be a burden, but as the
weeks go by they get to know each other and their strengths
come into focus, not their weaknesses. Cheyenne has worked
two jobs for ten years; she's not afraid of hard work.
Reese organizes his brothers to put simple systems in place
so he can feed the horses, deliver a foal and help out
around the corrals. Before too long he's even riding his
trusted quarter horse, whose eyes work perfectly well.
Cheyenne gives her husband a haircut and shave, in the most
intimate moment they have ever spent together. She is
dreading the baby's birth, because then the marriage will
be annulled. But the pregnancy has not been easy and pre-
eclampsia forces her to admit she can't cope alone. Reese's
instincts take over and suddenly he has to be strong and
capable for the two of them.
Brenda Minton has given us strong characters with a depth
of heart and scope for the future. Reading their separate
struggles, we have to admire their stubborn independence
and wish them well. Minton says that in the books preceding
THE RANCHER'S SECRET WIFE Reese was always the good guy,
taking in strays, giving a helping hand, and she felt that
his actions here were exactly in character. She has
explored the routes taken by recovering veterans and added
plenty of fine details.
After knowing the woman for all of three hours, soldier
Reese Cooper married waitress Cheyenne Jones. She was
pregnant and scared, alone in Las Vegasâ€”and he was about to
ship out on a dangerous tour of duty. But months later,
Reese comes home to Dawson, Oklahoma, no longer the strong
cowboy who vowed to help Cheyenne. Shrapnel and a guarded
heart changed everything. But with a wife and baby counting
on him, Reese is about to learn what real courage is all about.