The Hired Man by Jan Irving

Rating: 9/10 ★★★★★★★★★☆ 
Title: The Hired Man
Author: Jan Irving
Genre: Historical Romance
URL: Dreamspinner Press
Price: US$ 6.99
Summary [from the publisher]:
Reverend Ian Kenyon knows the harsh sting of life and how a man can suffer a loss of faith. The death of his wife and newborn son shook him to his foundations, and he’s been drifting ever since. Bryn Morgan has returned home from prison to the only family he has—an abusive father who abandoned him to the law when Bryn was unjustly accused of rape. Still poor, lost, and shunned, Bryn searches for work, any work that will allow him to survive.

Reluctantly moved by Bryn’s plight, Ian hires the young man to work on his farm despite Bryn’s prickly, defensive nature. Soon Ian fears his growing feelings of grace and compassion might be something else, something more… heated. Whatever the cause, he knows they are impossible to pursue, because Heaven only knows what would happen if a man of God began to have forbidden feelings for his hired man.
My review:
I loved this captivating and beautiful love story about two lonely and broken men, one released from prison for a crime he did not commit, and the other a minister who is suffering a crisis in his faith. The story takes place in a rural western town in 1898. While both men deal with their growing feelings for each other, they must also deal with their own emotional traumas, town prejudice, and moral and religious conflicts.

Bryn and Ian were wonderfully drawn characters, and I enjoyed every moment with them, through their hardships and joys. There were strong supporting characters too, especially Ian’s housekeeper, Mrs. Robson.

The setting was vividly described and effectively captured the rugged landscape, harsh living conditions and violence of the American West. So even though the relationship between Bryn and Ian moved at a leisurely pace, there was plenty here to keep me interested.

There were many gripping and heart wrenching moments that made me wonder whether Bryn and Ian would have their happily-ever-after, but love does find a way.