1890s – Wyoming
Audra Drysdale grudgingly accepts that the mere presence of a husband will keep her men working on her ranch, and a greedy cattle baron under control. It seems a perfectly reasonable idea, then, to ask her uncle, who is the town attorney and a matchmaker of sorts, to find her a groom–a “proxy” who will take her orders and dish them out to the men. A marriage of convenience seems to be in order …
Dillon Pine is in jail for a conspiracy charge, but because of certain mitigating factors, he’s deemed a good risk for an unusual form of probation: serving as Audra’s husband. After a year, he can abandon her and she won’t tell. By then, she will have proven to the cowboys she’s a competent rancher, and the cattleman next door will be looking elsewhere for a wife. But when word gets out that Dillon came to Audra via Evergreen’s matchmaker, he’s dubbed a “male order bride.” The resulting jokes at his expense are constant and brutal. Just how much abuse can Dillon’s pride stand?
When Audra discovers her father’s death was no accident, she realizes her new husband is in danger, too. And she cares . . . quite a lot, it turns out. To save Dillon, she may have to let go of the one thing she’s fought her whole life to keep.