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This is the story of Adam Westfield and Sage Hammond. As the story opens, Brother Adam, a Franciscan friar, is kneeling before the altar in a small church, dipping his fingers into holy water in front of him, over and over, praying for forgiveness. He waits, knowing what's coming. After hours on his knees, it finally arrives. The police are there to arrest him for the death of his fellow friar, Brother Armand Santiago. Adam feels his guilt deep in his soul and doesn't even consider resisting. The sad irony is that his foster brother, the man he spent most of his teenage years with, Shane Stewart, is one of the arresting detectives. This is almost as hard on Shane as it is on Adam. Adam accepts a plea deal for manslaughter, is sentenced to ten years at Sing-Sing prison. There, although he's resigned from the Brotherhood, Adam attempts to atone for his perceived sin by ministering to the inmates. He's a model prisoner, helps many in the prison, and is released for good behavior a little over five years later. But Adam has never forgiven himself. In fact, nearly everyone involved with the case feels he went to prison unjustly. Adam caught Brother Armand red-handed molesting a young teenage boy. He reacted in the heat of passion and protectiveness. To anyone else's eyes, what Adam did wasn't wrong. In fact, many consider him a hero. It was an accident. But Adam can't get past the fact that, however it happened, he'd killed a man, a man whose life he'd had no right to take. Rather than subject the young victim to a trial, Adam's guilt and remorse led him to take the plea deal and do his time.
Sage Hammond is a widow with two young children, Jenna and Matthew. Her husband, Mark, was killed in a tragic riding accident two-and-a-half years ago, and left her to run Heaven's Pastures, their horse breeding ranch. With the help of the Hammond family's long-time employees, Evan and Maddie Tanner, Sage has barely managed to keep the ranch afloat what with Mark's medical bills and the mortgage she'd had to take on the ranch to pay them. She can't afford to pay ranch hands much, and they just keep leaving, most without notice. She desperately needs help.
After his release from prison, Adam prays, asking for guidance to find his new place in life. Without a clear direction, he starts hitchhiking around the country, moving from place to place, job to job, never staying in one place for long. Then he lands in Rosewood, Oklahoma where he meets the Reverend Stephens. After getting to know each other a bit, the good reverend sends Adam to Sage's ranch. Sage needs help. Adam needs a job and a place to stay. The pay might not be much but the job comes with a small cabin. So Adam walks the six long miles to Sage's ranch to see if she'll take a chance on him. After a convoluted series of events, and with no small amount of hesitation about hiring an ex-con, Sage offers Adam the job.
From here, the story takes the reader through twists, turns, mysteries, unexpected events, people with unclear motives, and emotions of every sort. There's the wealthy neighbor with a very large ranch of his own who seems to desperately want to buy Sage's ranch, Sage's best friend who both approves of Adam but disapproves of the obvious interest between the two, a small town split between typical small town gossip and distrust of strangers and the inherent goodness of people to give others a second chance after a bad break in life. There are others with extreme motives as well. As the relationship between Sage and Adam grows from initial distrust and an uneasy truce between the two, trust, camaraderie, friendship, and perhaps even more, begin to grow. Then events take a dark turn. Someone is out to destroy the ranch and possibly even Sage and her family. Whoever is behind this appears willing to take out anyone who gets in their way. But who has motive for this? The neighbor? The best friend? Both are possible. But there are others. Who could it be? What's the motive? Where will the threats and acts of violence end? With Adam's past hanging over them like a cloud, and Sage's seeming inability to put her past behind her and move forward, do these two even stand a chance at any kind of future, assuming they can survive?
The Friar is, at heart, the story of two damaged souls seeking redemption, acceptance, and love. But it's so much more. There are mysteries, thrills, spills, twists, turns, and above all else, the affirmation of the goodness and kindness present in nearly every human soul. Despite the title and Adam's previous vocation, don't start reading this story with any preconceptions that this is strictly a faith-based story. It is, above all else, a story of human nature, love, hatred, good, evil, and every emotion that humankind can experience. It is a story of redemption but not necessarily in the ways you might initially believe. I was captivated and fascinated by The Friar. Samantha Cole, a former paramedic and police officer, has stepped into a third career as an author, at which she excels beyond belief. She is a master at her craft and I, for one, am extremely impressed with her creativity, research, expertise, and the end product she always produces. She is genuinely talented and truly amazing!
While there is a bit of sexual activity portrayed in this book, it is not explicit. There is some strong language as well. But there are no disclaimers that I need to put out there for The Friar. It stands on its own merits, and Samantha Cole has once again shown her proficiency, cleverness, and command of literary style in her latest book. I give The Friar my highest possible recommendation. Kudos Samantha! You have yet another winner on your hands, and an extremely devoted reader as well!
Thank you for reading my review and happy reading!
This story has it all. You even get to the point that you think " what else can be piled on?" But the end....getting there is so worth it. You have all the emotions and suspense that you always get in her books. It grabs you from page 1 and keeps you there.
Adam Westfield, who has been released from prison, is searching for his way. He wanders on Sage Hammond's farm after being sent there by the Reverend in town. He was hired to help out on the farm. Even though he is being judged, things aren't what they seem. Then things began to happen and it looked like someone was trying to sabotage the farm. What transpired will keep you on the edge of your seat and your heart racing. There is even a twist or two thrown in there. And oh yeah...there is romance too...
In closing, everyone should just open up a Samantha A Cole book and start that adventure. It will be worth it.
I quite enjoyed reading a bit away from her norm, and having a man of faith as a main character was great! I really enjoyed the intimate scenes being a bit more toned down than her usual erotica, it was very fitting for Adam. His restraint at times was very endearing.
Sage is one hell of a woman. She's real and tough and yet still vulnerable. Yet, she's definitely NOT a damsel in distress. She is first and foremost a mother, but she's still a woman. The duality of it makes for an extremely realistic character.
Adam is sent to prison for manslaughter, a former Franciscan brother, he spends time drifting until he comes upon the widow Sage Hammond. He is told she needs help with her ranch, but when she finds out he’s an ex-con, his prospects don’t look so good. But a neighboring rancher shows up with his lackey and threaten Sage into selling her ranch. Adam intervenes. Sage decides to keep him on, and he’s worth his weight in gold to Sage and her 2 children.
Events begin happening at the ranch, and it’s up to Adam to keep her safe, but who from? Ms. Cole has written another 5 star mega-hit that will keep you riveted from the very first page all of the way to the very end.
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