Nate Stewart and his Texas Ranger partners return to Austin from their grueling assignment in west Texas, expecting only a few days’ rest before they are sent back on the outlaw trail. Instead, they learn that the state legislature has refused to extend funding for most of the Rangers. All but a few have been given their walking papers—placed on indefinite furlough.
Forced to face an uncertain future without the Rangers, Nate and his best friend and partner, Hoot Harrison, travel to the land Nate still owns outside San Saba. With mixed feelings, the pair heads toward Nate’s family's ranch—now, where Nate’s parents and older brother are buried.
But when they reach San Saba, they’re met with guns and force. Someone is attempting to take over all the ranches in the area—including Nate's. Vowing not to lose the land his father had struggled so hard to tame, Nate is determined to unravel the plot—and the people responsible—for the hostility. The trail to the criminals, ironically, takes him back East—to his own home town of Wilmington, Delaware…and someone he’d have never suspected.
Once Nate confronts the man who means to take everything from him, he and Hoot waste no time in getting back to Texas. There, they’ll stand together once more against outlaw guns as A RANGER RETURNS…
Nate leaned back against the whitewashed west wall of the Salt Flat Café, where the Rangers had been staying. He was seeking the least bit of shade, since the temperature was already well into the eighties, even at this early hour. He stretched out his legs, and pulled his Stetson over his eyes.
Boy howdy, a lot sure has happened to me, includin’ sayin’ stuff like ‘boy howdy’, over the past year, he mused. First, I lost my family, then I gained another one, sort of… my Ranger pards. At least the men who killed my mother and father, and Jonathan, are all dead. Me and my pardners made certain of that. I’ve learned that I don’t hate Texas, like I did when my father first dragged our family here, but love almost everything about it, except maybe the dust. I’ve learned how to care for both myself and my horse, and how to survive as a lawman. I’ve been shot by outlaws, and shot them, been in fistfights….
He shook his head as a soft chuckle escaped his lips. ’Course, I’ve lost more of those than I’ve won. I still have a lot to learn about fist fightin’. I’ve traveled all over most of Texas, and have grown up a whole lot. Gotten a year older, too. I still don’t know what to do with girls, though. Maybe someday. I’ve had to fight white outlaws, Mexican desperadoes, and renegade Indians. Me’n Hoot have had some high times, too. I just hope someday he’ll quit tryin’ to convince me to smoke. I don’t want any part of tobacco. Just can’t stand the stuff. Wonder where we’re headed after Austin. I guess I’ll find out soon enough. Doesn’t make a difference to me. I know it’ll be in Texas, and I sure don’t hanker to ever leave this state again. Might be I’m still only fifteen, but it doesn’t seem like that matters, not any more. Jeb says I’ve proved myself as a man to ride the river with, and that’s good enough for me. Mebbe we’ll be sent…”
Nate drifted off. The next thing he heard was Hoot’s voice, as his partner and best friend kicked at the sole of his boot.
“Hey, Nate, wake up, ya idjit,” Hoot shouted, using his nickname for his partner. “We’re gettin’ ready to pull out. Unless you wanna stay here with the road runners, cactus, dust devils, and rattlesnakes.”