• The KEEPER Series - Book 3

    Historical Romance Plus Size Novel

      "...a story of survival, pride, love, and strength in the old west..."

    A confirmed bachelor at the age of thirty-nine, Trevor Wilkins has everything he needs or desiresa lavish lifestyle with only himself to answer to, easy money at his disposal and an exciting life racing the Wilkins family horses. He will leave married life to his two brothers. That is until Claire Holcomb and her five wonderfully impish children blindside him.

    Claire will never trust another man and never give her heart away again. Her ogre of a husband is finally gone. Penniless and widowed with five hungry children, she is determined to meet life on her own terms no matter how hard the journey becomes. Beside, she is past the age where any man would look twice at her.

    Trevor doesn't think so. And when she runs he will follow her because suddenly a life with Claire and her five urchins is the only thing to make his world complete.

    Nominated for the 2007 Romantic Times Reviewer's Choice Award for Best Small Press Romance!

    Honorable Mention Winner of the 2007 Best Western Romance by Loves Western Romances Review Site.

     

     
Awarded Two Recommended Reads by Fallen Angel Reviews!

            

 

Book One and Book Two of THE KEEPER Series

 


 

 

 

EXCERPT:

Claire hugged her knees to her chest. Her swollen eyes blinked, causing a tear on each side of her face to trickle down.

Trevor shook open the blanket. Without permission, he draped it around her trembling shoulders. "Are you sure you don't want to go in the house and warm up?"

Her head shook as she clutched the blanket. "I can't," she whispered hoarsely. Claire couldn't face the responsibilities she would find there.

"Well, then we'll sit out here together until you're ready to go in." Trevor leaned against the wooden slats behind him, rested his forearms across his knees and watched the lantern's reflection shimmer across the straw-covered floor. Hearing another quiet hiccup of despair come from her throat, he turned his head and hoped he wasn't pushing her too soon. "You want to talk about it?"

Claire lowered her face to her raised knees. A sudden, hoarse sob echoed in the barn. Trevor waited patiently by her side, stunned though by the complete despair he witnessed as the sob turned into one wretched moan after another. Without thought, he lifted his arm, wrapped it around her heaving shoulders and pressed her head against his shoulder.

Claire came willingly. She needed a strong shoulder. She needed someone to make the horrible pain in her life disappear. She was only vaguely aware of the strong, warm hand that stroked the outline of her arm beneath the woolen blanket as she sobbed against his broad chest.

Trevor's free arm reached out to coax her into his embrace. His fingers caressed the soft hair at her temple. Resting his cheek against the top of Claire's head, he closed his eyes. "I'm here for you."

Her cold fingers curled into the material of his cotton shirt, holding him close, numbly absorbing the warmth of his big body and the sheltering comfort he provided. Years had passed since anyone had put her needs first and didn't force her to stand and be strong. With each reassuring caress of his gentle hands, Claire clutched her fingers tighter and wept harder.

Time passed. How much, Trevor wasn't quite sure, but finally her sobs slowed to small hiccups. Her body ceased to tremble with cold except for random small shudders.

Claire kept her head pressed close to his chest, not yet ready to face the world. Another tender kiss pressed against her hair filled her body with warmth. Her lids fluttered shut. She tucked the moment of safe serenity away. At the moment, if she could, she would stay in his embrace for a lifetime.

But Claire knew she should go back to the house. The future wasn't going to go away. But she couldn't force her physical body to leave the safe haven of the reassuring presence he provided. Not yet. She needed to stay for a while longer.

"Tell me, Claire. What happened?" The soft plea whispered past her ear. "If it's something I can fix, then let me help."

She rubbed her cheek against his shirt, somehow trusting that she could tell him the truth and he would not think less of her. She took a calming breath. "I've tried so hard to make a life for myself and the children," she whispered. "I've worked from sun up to sun down. I've prayed that life would become easier. I worked for it, I deserved it, but it never happened." Her head shook against his chest. "I made such a mess of my life."

"Why do you say that? There are a lot of outside forces you're dealing with, Claire. It's not your fault."

She breathed in the light scent of tobacco that clung to his shirt, finding great comfort in the fact that the odor reminded her of sitting on her father's lap when she was a child. With it came a feeling of complete security. "I remember a time when I was happy, when I never feared the coming day. When I married Frank I was so excited to be his wife, so thrilled at beginning a life with a new husband. We were going to make this farm profitable."

Trevor wondered at her sudden silence, but remained quiet. He would let Claire continue when she was ready.

"Everything went so wrong," she finally whispered. "When I tried to save money, he stole it to buy liquor. He became a different person. As drunk as he always was, somehow he knew when there was money around." Claire paused. She couldn't tell Trevor about the times she'd been forced  to their bed, how she'd cowered in fear, begging him not to beat her. She hated Frank then, and she hated him now. "I should have left, but I stayed. I stayed for Jonah and Sofie, because they weren't able to see what their father was like. They loved him. And after each of the other children were born, I was too frightened to leave. I didn't know what he would do to me if he found us." Her head lifted slightly from his chest as she glanced around the barn. "So, this is what I stayed for. A broken down farm that never amounted to anything no matter how hard I tried. I look in the mirror, and
" she shuddered with a quiet sob in her throat. "I can't find me anymore. Somewhere along the way, I disappeared and a tired, older, weathered stranger took my place."

Trevor used a finger to tip her chin up so she could see the truth in his eyes. "You've worked hard, Claire. Whether it was the right thing to do or not, you hung in there. You tried to be both parents to those five great kids of yours. And don't think you ever disappeared. When I look at you I see a mature, wise woman, someone who possesses a great deal more strength than most men. I also see a woman who doesn't even realize the beauty she possesses."

Her lips parted at his statement, and her eyes widened as she stared up in wonder. Is that how the world sees me? Is that how he sees me?

Light, gray eyes met green ones.

Trevor cupped her cheek, lowered his mouth before thinking further on it, and pressed his warm lips against hers.

Claire's eyelids wavered shut as she relished the warm softness of his lips against her mouth. She didn't respond, but rather marveled at the reverence in his kiss. Breaking the contact of their mouths, she stared into his gentle gaze. In their depths she saw a rare honesty, never encountered before. He actually believed what he had just stated.

Frank had taken advantage of her many times. If not for Trevor, Judd would have demanded the same. Her fingers trembled as she lightly touched the course stubble that darkened his cheek and jaw. She found it strange that nothing was more important at that moment than feeling the safety of this man's tender embrace. He was a stranger, yet she found comfort in his presence.

Trevor saw the question in her gray eyes, dipped his head and captured her mouth once more.

 

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    Reviews:

5 ANGELS/RECOMMENDED READ From Fallen Angel Reviews!


"Ruby Storm has done it again. She's penned a story of survival, pride, love, and strength. She's taken us back to a time where women had so much more to worry about, especially women alone with their children. I was awed by the strength that Claire showed from the very beginning. Nothing could have prepared me for the ending though. I was absolutely floored and it still brings tears to my eyes to think about it. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time with the Wilkins family and look forward to hearing about the second generation. 5 Angels and a Recommended Read!"

Serena, Fallen Angel Reviews

55 ANGELS/RECOMMENDED READ From Fallen Angel Reviews!


"Keeper of the Heart is a tremendous addition to the Keeper series...is a beautifully written, emotionally-packed story that draws readers in as if they were experiencing the story as their own.

This reader has been fortunate enough to read the first two installments in the Keeper series. I loved Tyler in Keeper of the Spirit, Cole staked his claim on my heart in Keeper of the Dream, but Trevor snuck right up on me and earned his place as my favorite in Keeper of the Heart. Trevor is a man that any woman would love to call their own. Women can only wish to be as strong and loving as Claire. The emotions that Ruby Storm has incorporated into this story will leave readers overwhelmed to the point of tears, in love with the Wilkins men, and wishing they were a part of their family. Keeper of the Heart offers a love story that can only be defined as greatness. Ruby Storm is a brilliant author with the ability to tell a story worth reading more than once, sharing with friends, and passing down from generation to generation. If you only add one set of books to your bookcase this year, the Keeper series is the one to buy I assure you. 5 Angels and a Recommended Read!"

Jessica, Fallen Angel Reviews

5 RIBBON REVIEW!


"Ruby Storm's KEEPER OF THE HEART is the perfect addition to her KEEPER series. The characters are fascinating and the plot will have readers glued to the storyline through the entire book. I couldn't help but admire Claire and the inner strength that she'd have to possess in order to continue to keep going even when it seemed like everything is against her. I cheered each of her successes and cried with her when life would get too rough. Trevor's frustration at Claire's stubborn pride is almost laughable, he wants so desperately to step in and save her and the kids from the poverty conditions they're living in. Of course, you also get the opportunity to revisit characters you loved from the previous books in the series. It's not necessary to read previous books to appreciate KEEPER OF THE HEART but I'd really recommend them all, they're beautifully written and well worth investing time in reading as well as a special spot on the keeper shelf."

Chrissy Dionne, Romance Junkies Reviews

5 SPURS!

"The third book in Ms. Storm’s acclaimed Keeper Series is a deeply moving tale of love, honor, and family. This story will grab you right from the start. You’ll be rooting for these characters. I found myself laughing and crying right alongside Clair, Trevor and the children. The fact that Claire and Trevor are slightly older than other heroes and heroines of the genre only added to the depth and strength of their love. It was an added bonus …as if these two people had waited a lifetime to be with one another. Sadly, I have not read the other books in the series. But I am looking forward to them now. I can hardly wait to read more from Ms. Storm! KEEPER OF THE HEART is one buy and cherish!"

Jennifer, Love Western Romance Reviews


"I cannot say enough about Ms Storm's ability to write an emotional and beautiful love story. From the setting to the hardships and the triumphs, she moves the reader to tears both of joy and sorrow. All of her characters are vivid and memorable. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves a good romance with a rugged, yet caring hero, and a heroine with the strength to love him and the wisdom to tame him just enough. This author always makes me cry, and I always go back for more. A wonderful read."

Jenn, Reviewer For Coffee Time Romance
Reviewer For Karen Talk About New Books

"KEEPER OF THE HEART is another excellent story in the Keeper series, and Trevor is the last of the Wilkins family to finally meet his fate. The main characters from the previous two books are now secondary characters, and just as delightful as they were in their stories, KEEPER OF THE SPIRIT and KEEPER OF THE DREAM. Readers will enjoy finding out more about their lives. The author introduces the Merritt brothers, real characters, who lived around the same period of time and were mine owners in northern Minnesota. They add authenticity to the tale."
Marilyn Heyman, Romance Reviews Today

5 HEARTS!


"I have to give a tissue warning for this story; some moments were so heart warming that I went through more than one pack—just wonderful. There are truly too many events to begin to cover but absolutely all make this story complete in the way they shape the characters. Wonderful secondary characters, every single person, add to the depth of the story. A superb reading experience!."

Glenda K. Bauerle, The Romance Studio Reviews

 

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