When I read the Author’s Note in the beginning of the book that said she wrote “In The Sheriff’s Protection” in two weeks I was alarmed. You see, I am a fan of Lauri Robinson and I have her on a pedestal. This is my sixth book written by her. More importantly, I am a huge fan of the Oak Grove series. I was afraid to start the book because I didn’t want to be disappointed like I have been in the past by other authors and their series. I had the book for a week before I had the courage to start it.
I was scared for nothing! Seriously, let me quote the first paragraph and see if it captures your interest like it did mine.
“Ma, a rider’s coming’ up the road!” Billy exclaimed, his legs going the same speed they always were. At a run. “A man on horseback! Maybe it’s Pa, MA! Maybe he’s come home!” Clara Wilson squeezed the edge of the table, willing the fire-hot pain in her leg to ease while trying to find the wherewithal to respond to her son. “Shut. The. Door. Billy,” she forced out.
Need I say more?
Lauri Robinson is still number one in my book and so is the Oak Grove series.
It was enjoyable to watch the hero, Tom Baniff, succumb to falling in love with Clara Wilson, the heroine. He tried to resist the attraction for numerous reasons but it was inevitable. Clara lived a hard life and it was rewarding to see her accept Tom’s love. She had her many reasons why she and Tom could never be but with time those reasons became invalid. I really liked Tom because he was a sweet and kind man that possessed the rough and tough qualities necessary to be a respected sheriff. All the qualities I enjoy in a hero. Clara was written as a relatable heroine who loved her son and would do anything for him. As a mother myself I was able to justify her decisions based on my love for my child. Together as a couple, they made for a durable sweet romance.
In the synopsis it mentions that Tom is hunting for Clara’s criminal husband, Hugh Wilson. That plot thread added a bit of suspense. The entire plot as a whole made for a rapid page turner. I was entertained and intrigued with the several plot twists and turns that occurred along the way.
I want to share a recent experience that I had with my sister. She suggested I read a book that was part of a series that supposedly could be read as a standalone. She loved it and thought I would to. I wasn’t as enthralled about it as she was. My reasoning was that I felt lost with all the mentions of other characters. My belief is that only a fan of the series would understand those connections as they’d read the previous books. Therefore that means I felt they were under developed, just tossed into the script. This experience got me thinking about the Oak Grove series that I adore so much.
The Oak Gove series are books that can be read as standalones. However, as I was reading “In the Sheriff’s Protection” I was paying particular attention to honorable mentions from previous books in this series. Would I feel the same way about this story as I did the book my sister recommended if I hadn’t read the previous books about Oak Grove? Each time I read a story from this series I am overcome with comforting and familiar feelings. Lauri Robinson does write a story with a cast of characters that I think about days after finishing one of her books.
This time a character from a previous book, Angus, had a much more developed script in this story. I have to honestly look back and ask myself, would I have enjoyed this book as much as I did without reading the other books? I have to say no, I wouldn’t. Several of the past characters were mentioned as if tossed in but I knew who they were so I didn’t feel lost. I understand it was the author’s intent to establish the sense of community in Oak Grove. These characters actually do need to be mentioned and because they were, I felt embraced by the community I’ve come to love.
This brings me to the conclusion that new readers really do need to read at least some of the previous books in order to be enthralled with In the Sheriff’s Protection as I am. This is especially so since this novel has the feeling of being even more dependent on the world building that’s come before. Since I have, I can claim with authority that I loved it! And, I definitely recommend this novel to fans of this series.
In conclusion, I was satisfied with “In the Sheriff’s Protection” and its happy ever after. I’m looking forward to the next book in the Oak Grove series being released in the Fall of 2018.
Editor's note: This article was originally published at Long and Short Reviews. It has been republished with permission. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.