Book Review and Giveaway: Winning Maura’s Heart by Linda Broday | Lone Star Book Blog Tours

The Hangman’s Daughters Series, Book # 1
Western Romance / Clean & Wholesome / Historical Fiction
Publisher: Severn House
Date of Publication: March 7, 2023
Number of Pages: 256 pages
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The Calhoun brothers are identical twins but on opposite sides of the law. Cutter is a deputy Marshal, Jonas an outlaw. When Cutter attempts to break his brother out of a notorious gang, they are shot, and Maura finds one of them wounded, close to the mission – but which brother is it?
Maura Taggart is an outcast, the daughter of a hangman and tainted by association – no reputable man wants her as his wife. And now she is homeless, along with her sister and the group of children in their care. Armed with pure grit, she finds a nearby mission where the nuns agree to take them in and set up an orphanage. But trouble is just around the corner . . .
As the stranger regains his strength under Maura’s care an attraction between them grows, yet how far can she trust him? And why has he brought trouble to their door? With the orphanage under threat can Maura trust this handsome stranger both with their safety and with her heart?
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Maura and Emma Taggart have selflessly cared for victims of yellow fever in San Antonio, Texas. Now that the worst of the threat is past, the fine, upstanding citizens of San Antonio repay them by assaulting Emma and running the sisters out of town. Why? Because they’re the hangman’s daughters. Their father’s profession and reputation has made them pariahs wherever they go. They leave with a group of children orphaned by the epidemic, planning to care for them. The ragtag group finds a haven at an old mission outside of town, where three French nuns and Maura’s alcoholic Uncle Max currently reside.

Cutter Calhoun sets out to rescue his brother Jonas from the clutches of a notorious gang. They’re almost free when Jonas decides to go back for a stash of stolen loot. As they’re fleeing from the gang, one brother is killed and the other is seriously wounded. Maura finds Calhoun when she’s out hunting for food for her charges, and brings him back to the mission to nurse him to health – but which brother has she found?

Linda Broday masterfully weaves multiple story arcs together into a fantastic whole. We have Maura and Emma’s struggles with the burden of their father’s reputation, their care for the orphaned children, Maura’s efforts to help Uncle Max find redemption and recovery, and the mystery man Calhoun.

The French nuns are a lot of fun. They are able to communicate with Maura and Emma, but they have no problems playing up their difficulties with the English language when it will benefit their cause! They see God’s hand at work in everything, big and small, and they’re a treat. The orphaned children are by turns delightful, heart-wrenching, and occasionally exasperating (as children are). They come together to make a marvelous family where there was none before. Max, at first afraid to be too near the children because of his tendency to drink heavily, comes to love them, and they love him, too.

The romance between Maura and Calhoun is an important part of the story, but it isn’t all of the story. Broday kept me guessing as to which brother Maura had saved. Sometimes the evidence pointed to US marshal Cutter, and sometimes it pointed to erstwhile outlaw Jonas. I’m not going to tell you which brother survives – read the book if you want to know that. I will tell you that the romance isn’t insta, but it’s not exactly slow burn, either. The spark flares pretty quickly, and Maura had long given up on the idea that any man could look past her family association and see – and love – her. She sees a good man in Calhoun, whichever one he is, and even though he’s likely to move on when he heals, she wants to know love for as long as it’s in her grasp. Even with the mystery of Calhoun’s identity unsolved, I found myself cheering for them, wanting their relationship to last.

Lucius Taggart shows up, unannounced and uninvited, and he’s brusque and fairly awful to Maura and Emma. I saw glimmers of hope that there may be a redemption for Lucius in a future book, at least as far as his family is concerned, if not society. I hope so! The outlaw gang makes several menacing appearances, trying to reclaim what Calhoun stole from them (which, ironically, they stole from others). And Maura not only works to keep her young charges cared for, she jumps in to correct an injustice, even though it means going back to the town that shunned her and her sister.

This story hits everything I enjoy in a good book. Mystery. Romance. Action. Found family. Redemption. And it places it all in a marvelous historical setting, when Texas was still the Wild West. Linda Broday has done an excellent job of researching her story and bringing all the threads together into a well-written whole. I can’t wait for the next in the series!

I’m a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of western romance novels and short stories. Watching TV westerns during my youth fed my love of cowboys and the old West and they still do. On a still day, I can often hear the voices of American Indians, Comancheros, and early cowboys whispering in the breeze here on the high West Texas plains. We refer to this land as “cowboy” country and men here still ride the range just as cowboys of old. My stories focus on family life and almost all have children.
GRAND PRIZE: tote including signed copy of Winning Maura’s Heart, strawberry & chocolate tea, Cowgirl hand lotion, bath bombs, personalized cup;
2nd Prize: eBook copy Winning Maura’s Heart;
3rd Prize: $15 Amazon gift card
(US only; ends midnight, CDT, 4/14/23)

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4 Responses to Book Review and Giveaway: Winning Maura’s Heart by Linda Broday | Lone Star Book Blog Tours

  1. Isn’t it the best when an author manages to get all your favorite elements in one story, and it works so seamlessly? Thanks for a great review. Sounds like Linda Broday has another winner.

    • Linda Broday says:

      Thank you so much, Kristine! At times this book seemed like a jagged mess and I wasn’t sure how it would all come together. But I think it came out well and I’m proud of it. Love you.

  2. Linda Broday says:

    Thank you so much, Plain Spoken Pen! My heart is happy that you liked the book. It was a challenge to write but well-worth the effort. I wanted to live at Heaven’s Door! I’m so happy that the book satisfied.

  3. Linda Broday says:

    Thank you so much, Kristine! At times this book seemed like a jagged mess and I wasn’t sure how it would all come together. But I think it came out well and I’m proud of it. Love you.

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