Quick summary Events planner Tess Casari packs up all of her belongings and heads out west to California (from Queens) to start anew following the painQuick summary Events planner Tess Casari packs up all of her belongings and heads out west to California (from Queens) to start anew following the painful demise of her marriage and later, her husband's death. She ends up at the Silver Creek Ranch (sort of an eeny-meeny-miney-mo action with a map). Ward Knowles, the oldest son of the family owning the guest ranch, is the first person she meets and it definitely wasn't insta-love.
The heart of the story Tess is hired on by Ward's mother as her personal assistant and later the events planner for the ranch. She thinks he's arrogant (he is a bit) and he thinks she's too much the city girl (she is). Publicly they trade barbs but privately they acknowledge their attraction. Both think they want a casual relationship (he was seriously burned) with no strings attached.
What works about this story Everyone on that ranch works very hard and Ward is a true cowboy...wrangling cattle, working horses and delivering baby lambs. He always planned to work on Tess and was pretty honest about it. It took time and the development of the relationship is expertly woven into every aspect of the story. I loved both of these characters and their romance. The conflicts they faced related to their pasts, including a nasty ex-fiancée who added some real spice. Part of the charm was experienced through Tess's indoctrination to ranch life, capped off when she transitions from high heels to her first fancy cowboy boots!
The bottom line Despite its slow start, this story was pretty wonderful. Ward is delicious, representing cowboys really well. Tess is no slouch either and shows her skills in adapting with ease from life in the city to that on a ranch. The romance develops nicely without a lot of angst or silly conflicts and when it ramps up...oh, my. You'll learn a lot about how a guest ranch works, too. ...more
Quick summary Jack French just spent two years in prison for a crime he didn't commit. He's back in Beartooth and oOriginally posted on The Book Nympho
Quick summary Jack French just spent two years in prison for a crime he didn't commit. He's back in Beartooth and on his way into town, he encounters Kate LaFond, the new owner of the town cafe, being assaulted. When he comes to her rescue, she's not grateful at all as Kate's used to taking care of herself. This pretty much defines their relationship going forward. Kate's hiding a few secrets and has a murky history. Jack's on a mission to clear his name. Their paths will inevitably converge.
What I enjoyed I really liked Jack and his laid back manner, especially as he seemed to instinctively know how to handle the often prickly, independent Kate. Her story was presented in a series of flashback conversations with someone who was well known in Beartooth. I liked this approach as there were several subplots that connected in someway and this helped provide context, as well as give Kate more layers. In fact, the subplots were just as interesting as the main story!
About the narration Graham Winton's interpretation of Jack was just about perfect. I could picture him just from his tone and style. I liked his performance of all the male characters but some of the female characters unfortunately came off a bit shrewish, which wasn't the intent. However, overall, I enjoyed the performance.
The bottom line The mystery aspect of this series is so well done and this story surpassed the last. There are some mean and nasty characters, some showing up shadowy and others with a nice veneer. I had a tough time weaving everything together (a good thing). The romance meter is low but it's just enough for me as the underlying tension heightens everything. I'm really enjoying the series even if the passion of the romance is understated.
(I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review)...more
Rylan West returns home after an 11-year absence following the murder of his sister. Destry Grant was the love of his life until her brother, Carson,Rylan West returns home after an 11-year absence following the murder of his sister. Destry Grant was the love of his life until her brother, Carson, was suspected to be the murderer. Now he's returned, too, and all the questions and suspicions resurface.
This reads more like mystery/suspense with romantic elements as the romance didn't develop until near the end. I had zero investment in Rylan and Destry's relationship because it was too far in the background. However, I enjoyed the story for the mystery aspect as it kept me intrigued even though there weren't many redeemable characters to hang my hat on.
I do plan to read the next book in the series. 3.5 stars. ...more
I think it was my good fortune that I read the first five chapters of the first book before I remembered this one existed. With some foresight, this sI think it was my good fortune that I read the first five chapters of the first book before I remembered this one existed. With some foresight, this story is a perfect set up for that book and has already answered some developing questions. It succinctly introduces the major characters as well as the mystery that plagues them.
It does end in a cliffhanger and my recommendation would be to have the next book in the queue. I'm much more excited now to get back to Unforgiven. This did what a prequel is supposed to do and it's short and so very not sweet. ...more
Quick summary Jane Middlebourne needs a way out of New York City. As the ward of a distant cousin, she's destined fOriginally posted at The Book Nympho
Quick summary Jane Middlebourne needs a way out of New York City. As the ward of a distant cousin, she's destined for a lonely life of servitude. Morgan Longstreet recently bought a ranch in Bitter Springs and needs a wife to help him manage Morning Star. When Jane answers his ad for a bride, he believed he'd found the perfect solution for both of them.
The conflict When Morgan sees Jane in person, he doesn't mask his disappointment because he thinks she's not going to be tough enough to withstand the rugged life on a ranch in Wyoming. Jane's discouraged as she'd hoped to find a willing partner in Morgan, in time developing affection for one another.
The heart of the story I love western historicals and this was one of the most authentic stories I've read in the genre for quite some time. There was no instant love here and ranch life is tough. Morgan's not an easy man and he doesn't mask his feelings around Jane. She's well educated and forthright, which made them surprisingly a good match. He's not educated but extremely bright and savvy, though very reticent. Both had complicated pasts and Morgan's resurfaced to wreak havoc in a major way.
Narration Unfortunately, this was the weakest part of my reading experience. The narrator didn't seem to have a sense of the tone of the story or understand the characters. I couldn't tell when Morgan was being clever or caustic because no distinctions were made. Most of the performance sounded rote, almost as if it was computer generated. It just didn't work for me and I had to go back and read the prologue from the sample to understand what turned out to be a critical passage.
The bottom line I enjoyed the story in spite of my issues with the narration. I just had to work harder to figure out the nuances provided by the author. I loved how Morgan and Jane's relationship developed and it's the strength of the story. And, the ending was exciting with a strong climax. I'll definitely go back and read the first two books in the series (this one stands alone very well as I didn't discover it was part of a series until I'd finished) and I'll continue it but not with this narrator.
(I received an audio ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review) ...more
I'm going to sound like I can't decide if I like this book or not. Well, that's because there were parts I liked a lot and others that had me raisingI'm going to sound like I can't decide if I like this book or not. Well, that's because there were parts I liked a lot and others that had me raising my eyebrows.
First, what I liked. It's romantic suspense involving cowboys on a ranch and a heroine on the run from a truly diabolical ex-husband. Jenna's fear was well earned and one of the most chilling aspects of the book is when we experience the attacks from her point of view. It was horrific, awful and scary. When she lands at Jack's ranch, I breathed a sigh of relief on her behalf. He and his family were just good people and even though it could be sappy at times, they were a wonderful respite, embracing the battered Jenna and nursing her back to health. If you're in the mood for a sweet romance and small town friendly, this story really works...a great dog, cute 3-year old and a cranky horse all add to the "feel good."
Now, what made me roll my eyes at times. This is truly an "insta-love" that just developed too quickly and it didn't have to. There was a clear and natural path that could have been taken to more slowly evolve the romance but...for some reason it was necessary to have Jenna and Jack speed things up. It was annoying. Then, there was one instance where Jenna's ex got access to her that really stretched credulity. I just rejected the entire scene it was so far off base. Lastly, the number of errors in the book was unacceptable. It was poorly edited by a major publisher. I'm used to reading uncorrected proofs with fewer errors.
The bottom line, though, is I was completely hooked by the story because when it was good, it was very, very good. When it was bad, it wasn't terrible. I liked the story, characters, ranch setting, suspense and the set up for the next books in the series, which I will definitely be continuing. They sound even better. ...more
If you're a fan of the TV show, The Batchelor, this story will probably be a fun read for you.
Ainsley Fairfax comes from a wealthy South Carolina famIf you're a fan of the TV show, The Batchelor, this story will probably be a fun read for you.
Ainsley Fairfax comes from a wealthy South Carolina family with a matriarch from hell. Her mother is adamant that she's going on a cruise with Edward, the man of her choosing, and work on their nuptials when they return (her command was that they get engaged). Ainsley schemes with her black sheep sister to switch places and take her trip to a cowgirls weekend in Wyoming.
It's two weeks of competition with seven other women for the attentions of Riley Pommer, eldest of the four siblings owning the ranch. Of course, some of the women show their catty and nasty sides once it's apparent Riley only has eyes for Ainsley.
There were aspects of the story I really enjoyed, primarily Ainsley's efforts to get a spine and get out from under her mother's outrageous control. She had relapses but her attempts were gutsy and it was satisfying to follow her self discovery. Meagan, her Wyoming roommate, was also refreshing, even though her romance was more satisfying than the main characters' relationship.
Where I fell off the rails was with the competition itself and Riley. Not being a fan of The Batchelor, the whole concept just offended my sensibilities. Riley was a reluctant participant (his sisters concocted the idea to raise much needed money) but often allowed himself to be played by the women trying to undermine Ainsley. It got tiresome and it baffled me when he would take their word over Ainsley's. His rants just made him come off as a jerk. And, the whole Edward storyline was a bit too much for me to swallow. There were too many trust issues that never found a foundation to build from.
It's a well written story that I would have enjoyed more if it didn't involve that 8-women competition. It just turned me off to the hero, Riley and lose interest in the HEA because I can't stand the idea of a group of women jockeying like this for one man's attention, willing or not. But, it was worth it to see Ainsley develop and mature. She never intended to compete and didn't. ...more
I've wanted to read Brylee Parrish's story since she was left at the altar by Hutch Carmody in the second book ofOriginally posted at The Book Nympho
I've wanted to read Brylee Parrish's story since she was left at the altar by Hutch Carmody in the second book of this series (Big Sky Mountain). She's now a businesswoman to be reckoned with as she's the head of a highly successful gift distribution company. But, she's still very much alone and in a small town, it's hard to redefine yourself when everyone remembers your wedding day that didn't happen.
Zane Sutton seemed on the surface to be an unlikely match for Brylee. He's a famous Hollywood western actor though his roots were in the rodeo circuit. What no one seems to understand is the Hollywood lifestyle doesn't fit him well and his heart is in Montana at the property he purchased years ago. When he first lays eyes on Brylee, he sees her at a vulnerable moment and gets that she's not the packaged perfection she projects to the rest of the world.
What's most interesting about this story is the romance is more in the background and the issues in Brylee and Zane's worlds are at the forefront. Surprisingly it works because we get a completely finished canvas for both of them by the time they come together. The secondary characters support them rather than distract, making this a much more interesting story.
If there was one shortcoming it would be Brylee's curious behavior near the end of the book. Her actions seemed out of character and I'm still puzzling over what it all meant. Fortunately, it was a small interlude and I quickly moved on.
I enjoyed the story and the romance as Zane is a really great guy, perfect for the wounded but proud Brylee. She makes him work for it and he rises to the occasion admirably. This is probably my most favorite of the series to date.
I really like this series and like it a lot. It centers around a few men and women in the town of Parable, Montana who individually landed here througI really like this series and like it a lot. It centers around a few men and women in the town of Parable, Montana who individually landed here through one circumstance or another. Each has had issues from their past resurface to create obstacles for romance in the present. There is one constant, however...some of the most delectable cowboys west of the Mississippi River.
The Set Up In this fourth book, Casey Elders, a red-haired, feisty Country & Western singer recently bought a home in Parable. The plan was to give her children, 14-year old Clare and 13-year old Shane, a place to call home after being on the road touring all their lives. She chose this city because it's where Walker Parrish's ranch is located. He's their father but no one knows that, including her children, and Walker is fed up agreeing to keep a secret he never wanted a part of.
The Issues How do you explain to your children that the family friend they've adored is really their father? Especially since having a father and a family has always been their dream. Walker and Casey have a turbulent history but the weight is on Casey for creating the obstacles in their romance and the lie.
What Worked Casey and Walker's relationship was complex, steamy (never had issues between the sheets) and uneasy. She was all about maintaining her independence and Walker was such the confident cowboy he reduced her to a puddle with just a smile. Their kids were pretty interesting, too, and their differing reactions to the news complicated the story even more. The downside of celebrity is also presented, shining a light on issues that never occurred to me and the impact on their daily lives. The couples from the earlier stories appear here with updates on their situations and, although they really don't have substantive roles to speak of, it added to the enjoyment.
What Didn't Work Quite So Well Casey frustrated me quite a bit. While her rationale for hiding the children's paternity was logical, it didn't fit the man Walker was defined to be and she was stubborn to a fault. And, his passivity was annoying at times and seemed out of character.
Bottom Line Loved the story, Casey and Walker as a couple and parents, their children and the conflicts. Everyone involved paid a price for the decisions Casey made and no one gets off easy. When they come together as a family, it's messy, heartwarming and romantic. The bonds between the friends make this series special, along with the Western scene and culture as a foundation. Loving it. I’m ready for Brylee!