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3.7 39
by Diana Palmer

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New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Diana Palmer takes readers back to Jacobsville, Texas, where Hayes Carson is a man on a mission—for justice

Bobby Carson had been the only family Hayes had left in the world. A long, tall and serious Texan, Hayes has always suspected Minette Raynor had something to do with Bobby's death, that the bright-eyed


New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Diana Palmer takes readers back to Jacobsville, Texas, where Hayes Carson is a man on a mission—for justice

Bobby Carson had been the only family Hayes had left in the world. A long, tall and serious Texan, Hayes has always suspected Minette Raynor had something to do with Bobby's death, that the bright-eyed blonde gave his brother the drugs that killed him. As far as Hayes is concerned, neither her looks nor anything else will stand in the way of him righting this grievous wrong.

Minette can't get handsome Hayes off her mind, or off her back. But then Hayes gets shot, and the only one who can help him heal is Minette. Soon she finds herself in very close quarters, indeed, with the breathtaking sheriff. Then the tables turn—and Minette finds herself in great danger, and Hayes is the only one who can rescue her. Can she count on Hayes believing the truth—and saving her life?

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Palmer...is the queen of desperado quests for justice and true love." -Publishers Weekly

"The popular Palmer has penned another winning novel, a perfect blend of romance and suspense."—Booklist on Lawman

"Diana Palmer is a mesmerizing storyteller who captures the essence of what a romance should be."—Affaire de Coeur

"Nobody tops Diana Palmer when it comes to delivering pure, undiluted romance. I love her stories."—New York Times bestselling author Jayne Anne Krentz

Product Details

Center Point
Publication date:
Edition description:
Large Print
Product dimensions:
5.89(w) x 8.69(h) x 1.19(d)

Read an Excerpt

Sheriff Hayes Carson hated Sundays. It was nothing against religion, or church or anything spiritual. He hated Sundays because he always spent them alone. He didn't have a girlfriend. He'd dated a couple of women around Jacobsville, Texas, but those dates had been few and far between. He hadn't had a serious relationship since he was just out of the military, when he got engaged to a woman who tossed him over for somebody richer. Well, he had dated Ivy Conley before she married his best friend, Stuart York. He'd had feelings for her, too, but it was not returned on her part.

Besides, he thought ruefully, there was Andy. His scaly pet kept him unattached.

That wasn't strictly true, he mused. The reason for the dearth of women in his life was mostly his job. He'd been shot twice since he became sheriff, and he'd been sheriff for seven years. He was good at his job. He was reelected without even a runoff. No criminal had ever escaped him. Well, one had-that man they called El Jefe, the biggest drug lord in northern Sonora, Mexico, who had a network that ran right through Jacobs County. But he was going to land El Jefe one day, he promised himself. He hated drug dealers. His own brother, Bobby, had died of an overdose years ago.

He still blamed Minette Raynor for that. Oh, sure, people said she was innocent and that it was Ivy Conley's sister, Rachel, who'd been killed a year or so ago, who gave Bobby the fatal dose. But Hayes knew that Minette was connected to the tragedy. He really hated her and made no secret of it. He knew something about her that she wasn't even aware of. He'd kept the secret all his adult life. He wanted to tell her. But he'd promised his father not to reveal the truth.

Hell, he thought, sipping Jack Daniel's, he wished he could get rid of that inconvenient conscience that wouldn't let him break his promises. It would save him a lot of grief.

He put the big square whiskey glass down beside his rocking chair, his long legs crossed as he stared out across the bare, rusty-colored meadow to the highway. It was chilly outside most days. Middle November brought frost even to Texas, but it had warmed up a bit today. He'd had supper, so the alcohol wouldn't affect him very much, except to relax him. He was enjoying the late-afternoon sun. He wished he had someone to share that sunset with. He hated being alone all the time.

Part of the reason for his solitude was sitting on the sofa in his living room, in front of the television. He sighed. His scaly best friend terrorized women. He'd tried to keep Andy secret, even putting him in the spare bedroom on the rare occasions when he brought a date home to ride horses. But inevitably, Andy finally got out when he least expected it. On one occasion while he was making coffee in the spotless kitchen, his pet was sneaking over the back of the sofa where the unsuspecting woman was sitting.

The screams were really terrifying. He dropped the coffeepot in his haste to get to the next room. She was standing up on the sofa, brandishing a lamp at the six-foot iguana who was arched on its back, glaring at her.

"It's okay, he's harmless!" he said at once.

That was when his pet decided to drop his dewlap, hiss and strike at her with his long whiplike tail. She actually sprained her ankle jumping off the sofa. The big iguana was ten years old and he didn't like people very much. And he really hated women. Hayes had never figured out why. Andy mostly stayed on top of the refrigerator or under the heat lamp atop his enormous cage, and ate the fresh fruit and salad that Hayes fixed for him every day. He never bothered anybody. He seemed to like

Hayes's best friend, Stuart York. He'd even let himself be carried around and petted by total strangers; as long as they were male.

But let a woman walk through the door…

Hayes leaned back with a long indrawn breath. He couldn't give Andy up. It would be like giving away part of his family. And he didn't have any family left. He had a few very distant cousins, like MacCreedy, who had become a local legend in law enforcement for leading funeral processions into bogs before he went to work in San Antonio as a security guard. But Hayes had no close relatives living. His only great-uncle had died three years before.

He glanced through the window at the sofa, where Andy was spread out with the television blaring away. It amused him that his pet liked to watch television. Or at least, it seemed that way. He kept a nice thick waterproof sofa cover on the furniture, in case of accidents. Oddly, Andy never had any. He was house-trained. He went on a small stack of wet papers in a litter box in Hayes's huge bathroom. And he came when Hayes whistled. Odd fellow, Andy.

Hayes smiled to himself. At least he had something living to talk to.

He stared off into the distance. He saw a flash of silver. Probably sunlight reflecting off the wire fence out there, keeping in his small herd of palominos. He had a big cattle dog, Rex, who lived outdoors and kept predators away from the equally small herd of Santa Gertrudis cattle Hayes owned. He didn't have time for a big ranch, but he liked raising animals.

He heard Rex bark in the distance. Must see a rabbit, he thought idly. He glanced down at the empty whiskey glass and grimaced. He shouldn't be drinking on a Sunday. His mother wouldn't have approved. He made a face. His mother hadn't approved of anything about him. She'd hated his father and hated Hayes because he looked like his father. She'd been tall and blonde and dark-eyed. Like Minette Raynor.

His face contorted as he processed the thought. Minette was editor-publisher of the weekly Jacobsville Times. She lived with her great-aunt and two children, her brother and sister. She never spoke of her biological father. Hayes was sure that she didn't know who her father really was. She knew her late stepfather wasn't her real dad. Hayes knew about her real father because Dallas, his late father and also the former Jacobs County sheriff, knew. Dallas had made Hayes swear he'd never tell Minette. It wasn't her fault, he emphasized. She'd had enough grief for one lifetime, without knowing the truth about her father. Her mother had been a good woman. She'd never been mixed up in anything illegal, either. Let it go.

So Hayes had let it go, but reluctantly. He couldn't disguise his distaste for Minette, however. In his mind, her family had killed his brother, whether or not it was her hand that had delivered the lethal drug that he died from.

He stretched suddenly, yawning, and suddenly bent over to pick up his glass. Something hit his shoulder and spun him around in the chair, throwing him to the bare wood floor of the porch. He lay there, gasping like a fish, numb from a blow he hadn't seen coming.

It took a minute for him to figure out that he'd been shot. He knew the sensation. It wasn't the first time. He tried to move, and realized that he couldn't get up. He was struggling to breathe. There was the copper-scented smell of fresh blood. He was bleeding. It felt as if his lung, or part of it, had collapsed.

He struggled with the case at his belt to retrieve his cell phone. Thank God he kept it charged, in case any emergency required his presence. He punched the code for 911.

"Jacobs County 911, is this an emergency?" the operator asked at once.

"Shot," he gasped.

"Excuse me?" There was a pause. "Sheriff Carson, is that you?"


"Where are you?" she asked urgently, knowing that it could take precious time to seek out a cell tower near the call and identify his possible location. "Can you tell me?"

"Home," he bit off. The world was fading in and out. He heard her voice coaxing him to stay on the line, to talk to her. But he closed his eyes on a sudden wave of pain and nausea and the phone fell from his limp hand.

Hayes came to in the hospital. Dr. Copper Col-train was bending over him, in a green gown, with a mask pulled down around his chin.

"Hi," he said. "Good to have you back with us."

Hayes blinked. "I was shot."

"Yes, for the third time," Coltrain mused. "I've heard of lead poisoning, but this is getting absurd."

"How am I?" Hayes managed in a raspy tone.

"You'll live," Coltrain replied. "The wound is in your shoulder, but it impacted your left lung, as well. We had to remove a bit of your lung and we're inflating it now." He indicated a tube coming out of Hayes's side under the light sheet. "We removed bone fragments and debrided the tissue, now you're on fluids and antibiotics, anti-inflammatories and pain meds, for the time being."

"When can I go home?" Hayes asked groggily.

"Funny man. Let's talk about that when you're not just out of surgery and in the recovery room."

Hayes made a face. "Somebody's got to feed Andy. He'll be scared to death out there alone."

"We have somebody feeding Andy," Coltrain replied.

"Rex, too, he lives in the barn."

"Taken care of."

"The key."

".was on your key ring. Everything's fine, except for you."

Hayes assumed it was one of his deputies who was helping out, so he didn't argue. He closed his eyes. "I feel awful."

"Well, of course you do," Coltrain sympathized. "You've been shot."

"I noticed."

"We're going to keep you in ICU for a day or so, until you're a bit better, then we'll move you into a room. For now, you just sleep and don't worry about anything. Okay?"

Hayes managed a wan smile, but his eyes didn't open. A few seconds later, he was asleep.

A nurse was bending over him in ICU when he woke again, taking his blood pressure, checking his temperature, pulse and respiration.

"Hi, there," she said with a smile. "You're doing much better this morning," she added, noting her observations on her chart. "How's the chest?"

He moved and winced. "Hurts."

"Does it? We'll ask Dr. Coltrain to up your meds a bit until that passes. Any other problems?"

He wanted to name at least one, but he was unusually shy about mentioning the catheter.

Nevertheless, the nurse noticed. "It's just temporary, and it's coming out tomorrow, Dr. Coltrain said. Try to sleep." She patted him on the shoulder with a maternal smile and left him.

They removed the catheter the next day, which embarrassed Hayes and caused him to mutter under his breath. But he went back to sleep very soon.

Later, when Dr. Coltrain came in, he was barely awake again. "I hurt in an unmentionable place and it's your fault," Hayes muttered at Coltrain.

"Sorry, it was unavoidable. The catheter's out now, and you won't have discomfort for much longer, I promise." He listened to Hayes's chest and frowned. "There's a lot of congestion."

"It's unpleasant."

"I'm going to write up something to clear that out."

"I want to go home."

Coltrain looked very uncomfortable. "There's a problem."


He sat down in the chair beside the bed and crossed his legs. "Okay, let's review the mechanics of gunshot injuries. First is the direct tissue injury. Second, temporary cavitation as the projectile makes a path through the tissue and causes necrosis. Third, shock waves if the projectile is ejected at a high rate of speed. You are the luckiest man I know, because the only major damage the bullet did was to your lung. However," he added quietly,

"the damage is such that you're going to have a hard time using your left arm for a while."

"Awhile? How long a while?" Hayes asked.

"Micah Steele-remember him?-is our orthopedic surgeon. I called him in on your case. We removed the bone fragments and repaired the muscle damage."

"What about the bullet?" Hayes interrupted.

"Did you get that?"

"No," Coltrain said. "Removing a bullet is up to the discretion of the surgeon, and I considered it too dangerous to take it out."

"It's evidence," Hayes said as strongly as the weakness would allow. "You have to extract it so that I can use it to prosecute the…" He held his breath. "Guy who shot me!"

"Surgeon's discretion," Coltrain repeated. "I won't risk a patient's life trying to dig out a bullet that's basically disinfected itself on the way into the body. I'd do more damage trying to get it out than I would leaving it in." He held up a hand when Hayes opened his mouth. "I conferred with two other surgeons, one in San Antonio, and they'll back me up. It was too risky."

Hayes wanted to argue some more, but he was too tired. It was an old argument, anyway, trying to make a surgeon remove potential evidence from a victim's body, and it occasionally ended up in a legal battle. Most of the time, the surgeon won.

"All right."

"Back to what I was saying," he continued, "there was some collateral damage to your left shoulder. You'll have to have an extended course of physical therapy to keep the muscles from atrophying."

"Extended?" Hayes asked slowly.

"Probably several months. It depends on how quickly you heal and how fast your recovery is," Coltrain said. "It's still going to be a rough ride. You need to know that from the start."

Hayes looked up at the ceiling. "Crackers and milk!" he muttered.

"You'll be all right," Coltrain assured him. "But for the next couple of weeks, you need to keep that arm immobilized and not lift anything heavier than a tissue. I'll have my receptionist get you an appointment with Dr. Steele and also with the physiotherapist here in the hospital."

"When can I go home?"

Coltrain stared at him. "Not for several more days. And even then, you can't go home and stay by yourself. You'll need someone with you for at least a couple of weeks, to make sure you don't overdo and have a relapse."

"A nursemaid? Me?" Hayes frowned. "I was out of the hospital in three or four days the last two times."

"You had a flesh wound the last time, and the one before that you were only about twenty-seven years old. You're thirty-four now, Hayes. It takes longer to recover, the older you get."

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
Palmer...is the queen of desperado quests for justice and true love." -Publishers Weekly

"The popular Palmer has penned another winning novel, a perfect blend of romance and suspense."—Booklist on Lawman

"Diana Palmer is a mesmerizing storyteller who captures the essence of what a romance should be."—Affaire de Coeur

"Nobody tops Diana Palmer when it comes to delivering pure, undiluted romance. I love her stories."—New York Times bestselling author Jayne Anne Krentz

Meet the Author

The prolific author of more than one hundred books, Diana Palmer got her start as a newspaper reporter. A New York Times bestselling author and voted one of the top ten romance writers in America, she has a gift for telling the most sensual tales with charm and humor. Diana lives with her family in Cornelia, Georgia.

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Protector 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 39 reviews.
rhonda1111RL More than 1 year ago
It has been awhile since I have read a story about Jacobsville, Texas. A lot of tough guys live and work there. The description of the book is misleading for me. Or maybe it went over my head and I missed that part. It has happened to me before. There are a few love scenes towards the end of the book. Lots of drama and some action. Some interesting characters. Some good, some bad and some really bad guys. And one big iguana. Sheriff is home on his ranch when he is shot. He never saw the shooter, but he had his phone and was able to call 911. When he woke up the doctor told him it would be awhile for him to heal from this bullet injury. He could not stay home alone and they could not get anyone to stay with him because of Andy. His six foot iguana that hated females. Hayes has no relatives, his housekeeper is out of town nursing his sick sister. He has one choice and he is not going to like it. Minette Raynor is raising her little brother and sister. She also lives with her Aunt. Minette runs a newspaper and Hayes hates her. Hayes blames her for his brother dying of drugs during high school. She has never touched drugs or partied. She never gave drugs to his brother. She offered to let Hayes stay with her family and recuperate on her ranch. Hayes knows a secret about Minette that he promised his father that he would not tell anyone about it. It was not anything that Minette did but it is why he blames her for his younger brothers death. Now that secret would be coming out and would be dangerous for Minette and her family it could also save her family. Minette and her Aunt are good cooks and Hayes loves to eat there cooking and it softens his attitude towards Minette. He also realizes that it was not her fault for his brother's death, She is a good mother to her younger sister and brother. Who are cute and like to be with Hayes. There is a new drug lord from Mexico that is moving into Jacobsville. He is not wanted in the U.S. any of his illegal businesses are done in Mexico. He has lots of enemies and brings danger with him. If you are a fan of Diana Palmer's you will enjoy reading Protector. I look forward to seeing what happens next in Jacobsville it is getting interesting there. I was given this ebook to read and asked to give honest review of it when finished reading by Netgalley. 06/25/2013 PUB Harlequin HQN ISBN9780373777716
2cquarterhorses More than 1 year ago
I'm a long time fan of Diana Palmer, but I'm not paying $11.99 for a 384 page Nook book. What are her publishers thinking?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
EXTREMELY DISAPPOINTING. BORING IN FACT. I have been a huge Diana Palmer fan and have waited for a long time for a story about Hayes Carson. I'd rather still be waiting. Enough with the drug lords, and kidnappings. Pretty soon every character ever created is going to have been kidnapped and rescured. This is getting dull and is totally unrealistic. There was almost nothing about Hayes and Minette, nothing about how he overcame his dislike of her. Just bam, they were in love and kidnapped. Please. A very great disappointment and poor treatment of a favorite character. Please please drop the dugs and kidnappings - way overdone!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have been waiting for this story for years....what a letdown! I cannot believe this ismy DianaPalmer who has written these last few books. Where is the romance, the courtship, the believability. And really, $11.00!!!! So disappointed.....
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is my least favorite book. I mean did she have to mention every character shes written about in past books. Geez it was the cheesiest! I normally love her books but this was a waste of 11 bucks.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I liked the story very much. However, I would like to point out a mistake on page 41. Palmer makes mention of a character from previous books named Keely. She refers to her as Keely York as her married name, but Keely married Boone Sinclair. She also miss spelled Keely's maiden name.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Waited so long for hays carson to have his own story that it was kind of a letdown?... still one of diana palmer's greatest fans
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great reading as always.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
While i love Diana Palmer books and am a big fan of hers, this book was a letdown. There was way too much druglord action and not enough tension and romance between Hayes and Minette. Within days they were in love and all was forgiven, what?? Not worth the $11.00 i spent on BN but then again, when it comes to Diana Palmer i will always buy her books, good or bad. Hopefully her next book will better.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love the Long Tall Texans. Keep them coming!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellent Excellent
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Name: icetail. Age: doesnt matter. Gender: female. Description: a pure white lion with ice blue eyes. History: ask. Most of it aint exactly a secret. Personality: cant be described in words.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Name: Fleet | Gender: Male | Breed: White tiger | Mate: None | Rank: Leader
funnylady More than 1 year ago
How can t;he publisher say "New Release" on this book.   I read it before the e-book  units even came out.  I read it paperback back in 2005 or 2006. Seems to me that they should say "Re-Print" !   I can remember most of the books story, and I enjoyed .  I also read everyone of the  Jacobsville series.  I wish she would have continued with the series, there are o many characters, that a few more books could be done.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am about half way through this book. I will try to force myself to finish it, but it will be difficult. It is so hard to believe. Hayes has hated her for so long and now all of a sudden he realizes it it not her fault. Come on. Totally out in left field. Plot is so simple I could probably do better. If I find it better as I go along, I will let you know.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was very disappointed after pre-ordering this book to realize I already owned it on my Nook. A book should not be a pre-order if it is not a new book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My first book by Diana Palmer and it was just ok. I couldn't really feel a connection between the characters. Parts of the story was very unrealistic. Minette's drug lord father is an example. Hayes had treated her terribly for years but that was glossed over as nothing. He should have had to grovel. The book had some interesting parts but was mostly dull.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very excitlng got tears and laughted great story
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
But i agree that there have been enough drug lord stuff in jacobsville time to get back to the romance that was once there. There are lots of plots that can be written about the rest of the people that are in jacobsville. A murder or two men fighting over the same woman. Dianna can do it i know she can.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed the story and loved reading about old friends but where is minetta become dea.
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