Lone Star Joy


Joy Courtland's parole officer has organized a work-release program as a horse wrangler for her to serve out the last three years of her jail term for murder. Stamos Walker's ranch is where Joy is assigned, except Stamos only allows male, non-violent offenders into the program on his Texas ranch. With a conviction for the violent murder of her stepmother, single-parent Stamos has no hesitation in sending Joy back to jail if need be.
After eight years in prison Joy is broken but strong, innocent and worldly-wise, fearful yet courageous. Stamos is just the type of man to coax the wary Joy back into experiencing the freedom she deserves.
There are a number of historicals with the heroine as an ex-con and plenty of contemporaries with a male ex-con, but it’s very rare indeed to read a story where the heroine in a contemporary is a convicted murderer. Joy's prison mentality isn't easy to shrug off and Ms Ball writes this effectively and believably. The tragedy of Joy's life is offset with some wonderful touches of humor.
This is such a great story and lovely romance, that it's easy to overlook the quibbles. However, the prose is average with often short, choppy sentences and some scenes could do with fleshing-out with more descriptive detail. Sometimes a story can be so entertaining and satisfying it outweighs any technical issues, and this is what happened here. With a little exposition and attention to prose, this would have easily been a 5.0 star read. Nevertheless, Lone Star Joy is a thoroughly enjoyable romance,  a real delight!
Jill MacKenzie