Gage by Tess Oliver

A down-on-her-luck singer who decides to make a go of running her grandfather’s Montana restaurant, even though she has no experience in the food industry. Somewhere in the world Gordon Ramsay is having a panic attack.

What’s it About?

418m5w3+trl

After nearly losing his friend in a logging accident, Gage Barringer is convinced now more than ever that he needs to find a different job. But his side business of breaking colts at the small Montana ranch he inherited from his grandfather doesn’t earn him enough money. He has his mind set on running The Raven’s Nest, a popular bar and restaurant near his ranch. The original owner has died and Gage is waiting for it to be put up for sale. But there is a five-foot-four, brown eyed, obstacle in his way, an obstacle with lips made for sin and a voice made for breaking hearts. And Summer Donovan is one road block Gage Barringer won’t be able to find a way around.

First Impressions

A small ranch town in Montana. A local logger with muscles and swagger. A young city-woman attempting to start life anew. A restaurant caught between them as a source for animosity even as they battle their growing attraction for each other? Count…me…in! Just one teeny tiny little problem here though. The synopsis description about Gage being convinced he needs to get out of the logging business, and that he’ll seemingly do anything to gain control of the restaurant that could prove to be his ticket out of a life-threatening job? Pretty misleading. Gage’s interest in the Raven’s Nest seemingly lasts for about 5 minutes as a passing fancy; one which he quickly abandons as soon as Summer comes to town.

whitefish-montana-main-street-in-the-fall

I was kind of looking forward to this restaurant business being a source of tension between the two, especially seeing as it implies that Gage was desperate to remove himself from such a dangerous job as a logger. In the end, we see that Gage really doesn’t put up a fight at all to claim the restaurant, and even turns down an offer from Summer to become part owner of the place. Really makes you wonder if he had gone through with purchasing the Raven’s Nest at the start of the novel how long his interest would have remained. Overall the lust-filled flirtations between Gage and Summer were certainly entertaining, but the story could have benefited from an added layer of depth if this claim to the restaurant had remained as a source of tension throughout more of the plot.

blb13128_32902269535_o.0

Breaking in a Wild Stallion

Summer and Gage may have had a rough introduction to each other at the start of the novel, but it doesn’t take long before their open flirtations turn into something more. An interesting dilemma that they both face though is a hesitancy to voice how much they actually care about the other, as both are afraid the other might flee. In regards to Summer’s possible flight, it’s a bit of a more obvious source for concern. Gage fears that this city girl he’s come to care for won’t be able to handle the difficult travails of a Montana winter, not to mention the complications of running her grandfather’s restaurant which has become a staple of this small mountain town. With the lure of a possible recording contract waiting for her back in California, Gage believes it’s just a matter of time before Summer runs back to California before he’s even had a chance to win her heart.

330c92a0-4070-4fa8-8ced-f2d987e6a7f3

As for Gage, this small town is his home. It always has been, and always will be, so there’s no potential risk of him fleeing in terms of physical distance. However, Summer worries that based on his many past dalliances with other women she won’t be able to maintain his interest for long. She can admit to herself that she’s falling hard for this man, but she’s worried he might walk away from her just as she’s starting to lose her heart to him. How could a bachelor so seemingly set in his non-commitment lifestyle change everything for her? Both Gage and Summer are worried to put their true feelings on the line, as they assume it won’t be long before the other loses interest and turns a blind eye on their newfound relationship

027-mens-medium-length-messy-hairstyles-picture-for-hair-men-style-hairstyle

Cut Out the Drama

Summer has come to this small Montana town in an attempt to leave behind all the drama from her life in L.A. On the cusp of receiving a major record contract, she was devastated to learn that the record company was only interested in signing her rather than the other members of her band. On top of it, a certain media mogul was more interested in getting in her panties than promoting her vocal abilities. As if that weren’t bad enough, she discovered that her boyfriend (and band-mate) was cheating on her with her supposed best friend. Summer was desperate to get away from it all, including her overbearing mother who was only interested in the potential profits her daughter’s burgeoning music career could bring her.

images

When Summer arrives in Montana, she’s desperate to ignore all of the negative forces that are trying to impede on her newfound happiness. You have to admire the fact she’s leaving behind all she knew to break out on her own, as well as cut out the drama of all the people who tried to use her for their own selfish personal gains. The only minor problem with this though is that it left most of the book a bit lacking in drama and excitement, since she was essentially choosing to ignore it all. Summer was determined to not answer any imposing phone calls from her mother, her agent, her ex-boyfriend, and even her mother’s lawyer. Sure, this does eventually come to a boiling point at the very end of the novel, but for the bulk of it we mainly focus on Summer and Gage getting close in the physical sense. A bit more incorporation throughout of Summer’s familial issues back in California, as well as Gage’s supposed dislike of his logging job would have helped lend a bit of struggle to the story.

bozeman_mt_destination_image_673x263

Series: The Barringer Brothers, book 1. Technically this is the first book in this series, but it does reference some people and events from the Rainshadow series involving Gage’s brother. You can definitely get by without having read it, as the events from that novel don’t really play into the overall plot of this one. However, just be forewarned that a few times here and there it was tricky to know what people/events the characters were referencing.

Final Impression: An ok read for the beach, or a mountain cabin escape. Summer’s determination to make her life in Montana a success no matter what was both admirable, yet also ignorant at times. Although I agree that Summer’s mother was a sad excuse for a parental figure, I do wish we’d had a bit more insight into their relationship, and maybe one or two additional scenes of them directly confronting each other. As for Gage, he’s definitely passionate about Summer, but we needed to see more passion in regards to what he was doing with his life. He’s clearly not interested in being a logger long-term, even though he’s still involved with it at the end of the novel, and we get just a brief glimpse of his interest in breaking in horses at his ranch. More focus on his endeavors there would have given us more of an idea of what this mountain man truly cares about in life.

Smut Level: Gage isn’t aware of his own brute strength apparently. At the start of the novel he’s getting down and dirty with a woman in the bathroom of Summer’s restaurant, and the two of them manage to break the sink from the wall.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $0.99 Kindle Price. Sugartree Press. 284 Pages.

Advertisements

Forgotten Hearts by Sloan Archer

Geez, yet another western romance novel that is making me consider a vacation to a cattle ranch in Montana! Not gonna lie, I’m sort of considering the possibility of building it into a work trip of mine next fall. We’ll just have to see if it all comes together!

What’s it About? 

51FJAfDod5L

In the summer of 1991, young love blossomed between Cash Axton and Vanessa Paul in the vast field of forget-me-nots that separated their family homes in small town Dunblair Ridge, Montana. The two became inseparable best friends, and ten-year-old Cash made a vow to Vanessa that he intended to one day carry out: I’m going to marry you. But with autumn came an unforeseen tragedy, resulting in an event that would tear the two apart and divide them by thousands of miles.

As adults, Cash and Vanessa are living separate lives until fate steps in and brings them back to Dunblair Ridge. Cash, haunted by the events he’d witnessed overseas as a photojournalist, comes home to heal and take over the family’s failing ranch. Vanessa, a workaholic financial planner who suddenly finds herself jobless and single, leaves New York City for Montana to claim the farmhouse she inherited.

Vanessa intends to stay in Dunblair Ridge just long enough to fix up her property and sell it, but then she reunites with Cash and a flood of memories comes rushing back. While the two cannot deny their mutual attraction, they struggle to ignore the ticking clock that counts down the days until Vanessa returns to New York. Will Cash’s vow go unbroken?

First Impressions

Vanessa is having a bit of a rough day. It starts off with her being fired from her job under the accusation of embezzlement, which she didn’t actually commit. As if that wasn’t bad enough, when she runs home to what she assumes will be the comforting arms of her boyfriend, she finds him engaged in some naked loofah washing with a young coffee barista. And for the cherry on top of this hot fudge sundae of mayhem, said barista is pregnant, and is engaged to Vanessa’s now ex-boyfriend. Goodness gracious! I need to remember the next time I experience frustration because Trader Joe’s is out of arugula that things can always get worse. Much, much worse.

superthumb

A Series of Unfortunate Events

The misfortunes don’t stop there for our young heroine. Her good for nothing mother certainly puts the “itch” in “bitch”, and has been misusing funds which Vanessa’s been sending her for rent. She then discovers that the only relative to ever show her love and affection one summer back when she was 10 has recently died. Her mother never told her of her Aunt Jeanie’s death, and Vanessa has inherited her entire estate in the small Montana town of Dunblair Ridge. Throughout all of these crippling misfortunes I kept asking myself one question…is she ever going to actually meet the sexy cowboy who is now living across the ranch field from her? This is a romance novel after all, yes?

1

While the series of unfortunate events at the start of the novel definitely help set the scene for Vanessa’s desperation to move from New York City to Montana, I couldn’t help but feel that it went on for a tad too long. It’s not until over 1/3 of the novel is over that Vanessa and Cash actually have a conversation with each other as adults. The prologue of the novel presents us with the briefest of flashbacks from when the two were 10 years old, and Cash vowed that one day he would marry the young lass who became such a close friend over those summer months before her menacing mother whisked her away. The novel definitely could have benefited from a shortened summary of the downfall to Vanessa’s seemingly perfect New York City life, so that we could have more moments involving Cash and Vanessa rekindling their friendship from years before, and seeing it evolve into something even more.

2322040717

A Lost Friendship

Another area where I wish the story had focused a bit more attention was on that summer Vanessa and Cash spent together so many years ago. The initial flashback at the start of the novel is really the only time we see an interaction between Vanessa and Cash as children. Later on we get more information about how Vanessa and her mother ended up staying in Montana all those years ago, how her mother abandoned her to live with her Aunt Jeanie, and how Vanessa and her aunt became remarkably close during those few months together before her cruel mother came to collect her again. Seriously, this mom makes the evil stepmother from Cinderella look like Mother Goose in comparison.

Top-ten-evil-stepmothers-20090322092748487

The scene which describes the crushing moment when Vanessa is literally ripped from the arms of her Aunt was so disturbingly heartbreaking you almost need to take a moment to collect yourself. While I definitely appreciated this glimpse into Vanessa’s past connection to her aunt, the missing component was really her connection with Cash during that time. We get a brief mention of how the two were constantly playing together, but we don’t even see a recap of how it was that the two first met. I feel like if we’d had just one or two additional scenes highlighting their friendship as children, it would have made their eventual meeting again 20 years later so much more special and meaningful.

images

Even though I would have liked to see more of a window into Vanessa and Cash’s time together as children, as well as had their meeting occur earlier on in the book, I must say I really did appreciate the moment the two did finally reconnect. The reason I enjoyed this moment so much is because the two had no initial memory of each other from when they were children. I feel like most authors in a similar situation would have had this heartwarming moment where they both glimpse each other again, and all the memories come flooding back right away. Nope, not here! You can’t help but appreciate the reality of the situation, where neither can immediately recall why there’s a sense of familiarity to the hottie staring back at them. Let’s face it, I know I certainly wouldn’t be able to remember many of the details of someone I only knew for about 3 months when I was 10 years old! Eventually they both remember the time they spent together, but it comes about in such a natural way you can’t help but love it.

back-view-of-young-couple-walking-in-farm-road_u-l-pyf4t50

Coming Back Full Circle

It’s kind of funny, at the start of the novel I kept asking myself if the two leads of this romance were ever actually going to meet, and by the end I was continually wondering whether we would ever see a resolution to some of the misfortunes presented at the start of the novel. It may seem like Vanessa is doomed to never clear her name from the embezzling accusation which ended her financial advising career, but eventually this story line does come back to the forefront. What followed was definitely an interesting progression of events. At first you experience a kind of frustration at Vanessa’s consideration to leave Cash and Montana behind, even though they’ve both come to hold a prominent place of importance in her life. However, you also have to appreciate that she’s not willing to turn her back on her career in order to be with a man. If she had, I think it would have seemed like a break in character from the determined woman we’ve come to know throughout the book. Instead we see a true internal struggle between what Vanessa thought she always wanted, and what she now realizes she wants.

One aspect that didn’t totally come full circle for me was in regards to Vanessa’s familial struggles. After Vanessa’s mother pulled her away from her loving aunt all those years ago, the two lost touch immediately. Her mother cut off all contact between the two, including throwing away any letters Vanessa tried to write her aunt, and sending back any letters her aunt tried to send Vanessa’s way. When Vanessa shows up in Montana, an old friend of her aunt’s presents her with a stack of the letters which Jeanie tried to send Vanessa all those years ago. The emotions are still too raw for Vanessa to confront these letters right away, so she hides them away in a box underneath her bed. I kept hoping throughout the novel that at some point we would get a glimpse into the love these letters undoubtedly contained, but unfortunately we never hear mention of the letters again at the end of the book.

pile-of-letters

Something else which sort of fades to the background is Vanessa’s cold-hearted mother. I kept worrying that one day we’d see her show up on Vanessa’s doorstep in Montana begging for money, or perhaps throwing a wrench into her developing relationship with Cash. However, I was surprised to find that after Vanessa vowed that she was through once and for all with her mother, this vow holds true throughout the rest of the book. Ultimately, I must say I admired Vanessa for finally having the strength to distance herself from such an unloving and unwelcome burden in her life. Again, surprised it never came back into the story, but all in all pretty pleased that this was the case.

tumblr_nkelt5QdsV1rdutw3o1_400

*An ARC of this book was provided for an honest review*

Series: Dunblair Hearts, book 1. I definitely want to continue with this series. We’re introduced to a slew of beloved townsfolk, and I’m interested to see if some of Vanessa’s newfound friends will find love of their own in a future novel.

Final Impression: This is a story of one woman’s determination in the face of adversity. She might be tempted to give up at times, and even have an emotional breakdown or two (who doesn’t?), but when all is said and done she’s a woman with a plan that she intends to stick to. I would actually say this is more a story of Vanessa breaking free and moving on from her previously hectic life in New York City rather than classifying it as a romance, per se. Something which contributed to this feeling of the romance taking a back seat in the plot is the fact that it took quite a long time before Vanessa and Cash reconnected after so many years apart. In addition, a number of the scenes which involve them developing their relationship from acquaintances to friends to lovers are described more in summary rather than in detail. I almost feel like I got to know them more as individuals rather than as a couple.

Smut Level: A clean read from start to finish. Definitely have some flirtations between Vanessa and Cash, as well as one eventual love scene, but it’s passed over without any erotic detail.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $3.99 Kindle Price. Amazon Digital Services LLC. 233 Pages.

Against the Odds by Michele Solano

There’s only a handful of romance novels that make me want to give up city living and move out West to the quiet peace and seclusion of a Wyoming ranch. This is definitely one of those romances.

What’s it About? 

40785715

Jace Nichols is the kind of cowboy every woman wants. He’s sexy, he’s strong, and he knows how to treat a woman to a good time. However, just like a wild stallion who cannot be tamed, Jace makes it a point to keep women at arm’s length, only offering casual dating, and never commits. He gave his heart out only once in his life, and that heartbreak had him promising himself he’d never risk that again. So now his life consists of hard work, time with the Michaels’ clan, and enjoying as many women as he wants without any risk, which suits him just fine. That is, until Scarlet James walks back into his life.

Scarlet James grew up a stone’s throw from Michaels Mob and loved everything about country life. She loved horses, she loved drawing, and she loved Jace Nichols. And when a devastating accident turned her world upside down and ripped her away from everything she knew and loved, including Jace, she never thought she’d set foot on the Mob again. But with her world being turned upside down with an impending divorce and a child to support, she returns to the Mob with the hopes of starting her life over, once again.

Heartbreak returns, secrets are revealed, and first loves reunite in this story of family, love and loss. Can Jace allow the one woman who broke his heart back on the Mob in order to start a new life for herself? Can Scarlet reconnect with the family who helped raise her and heal old wounds with Jace in the process? Can they both be in the same place after all this time and face the pain they caused each other all those years ago or are their wounds too deep to heal?

First Impressions

This series is unbelievably dangerous. Why, you might ask? Because the family matriarch, Grandma E., is so freakin’ adept at cooking and baking, every time I picked up this book I couldn’t help but feel the urge to bake either a casserole, or a pie. The fact I was away from home on work travel without easy access to a kitchen for the majority of this read caused me some rather intense mental anguish. Not to mention severe hunger. In this sequel to Have a Little Faith, we see that the entire clan from the first novel is back, but instead we get a different primary focus on Jace Nichols. He might not be a Michaels, but they’ve basically adopted him into their little family.

Harvest_Various_IoRES

He seems perfectly content to work the Mob with his surrogate family, never becoming tied down or committed to just one woman. But when an unexpected blast from his past comes sweeping onto the ranch to design a race track and stables for a new business venture, both he and Scarlet are forced to confront their former teenage love which ended in heartbreak. Throughout it all we see the couple from the first novel act as a shoulder to cry on, or even vent frustrations, but this tale is really all about Jace and Scarlet finding their way back to each other after so many years apart. The question is, will they be able to overcome the hurdles which separated them all those years ago, or will they prove too strong a barrier? Only one way to find out!

Kiss (2)

Part One: Reconnecting

This book is essentially divided into two parts. The first focuses on Scarlet and Jace coming together again after she is hired to design a race track on his family’s ranch. The animosity between the two is palpable, and I must say it was quite a bit of fun to see them try to tip-toe around avoiding each other. However, in those inevitable moments when they’d come face to face, the bickering between them inflated the sexual tension to a delectable degree. You simply know it’s a matter of time before the two become reacquainted in the physical sense, and I rather enjoyed the suspense of wondering when it was going to come about. We do actually have to wait a while until roughly the halfway point before they go for a roll in the stable loft. Before that though, we are constantly wondering what it was that broke them up so many years ago when they seemed destined to be together.

hay loft

Normally I hate when we’re left in the dark for so long, but I must say the big reveal moment came about naturally and realistically, which was quite refreshing. We first get to see Jace’s take on events, as he relates them to a character from the first book who was so desperate to find out the truth she essentially cornered him and demanded an explanation. Gotta love this woman’s tenacity! And then we get the ultimate climactic moment when Jace and Scarlet finally square off to lay all their cards out on the table, and Scarlet discloses all the tragic details as to why she abandoned him all those years ago. It was an emotionally touching scene, and in that moment you really do feel for the characters.

When-Noah-Gives-Allie-Ultimatum

My one and only complaint was that more attention was focused on the explanation of what split them up years before, rather than having any real focus on the time that they were together as a couple. Sure, we get a few mentions of how they were inseparable for years, and that they had a secret hideout spot on the ranch to connect, but I think the story really could have benefited from a few flashback scenes wherein we could witness the emotional bond these two shared. If we’d had some of these moments interspersed with their bickering, we could have constantly been questioning how things could have ever gotten so bad for them to seemingly hate each other so much before finally building to the inevitable explanation. It seemed like we lost a bit of what brought them together in the first place to instead focus on what was bringing them back together now.

tumblr_m6nr1riXj91ra6bhqo1_500

Part Two: Dropping the Ex

The second half of the book switches focus rather dramatically, and I’m not exactly sure how, but it is both my favorite and least favorite part of the novel (I know, my mind is a scary and weird place where anything is possible). After the reconciliation between Jace and Scarlet, things remain primarily hunky dory between them, and we switch all of our attention to the nasty divorce proceedings between Scarlet and her hopefully soon-to-be ex-husband, Preston. In the middle of it all we find her son, Nicholas, caught in the cross fires of a bitter custody dispute. One way this part of the novel should be applauded is how we see a dramatic building of suspense where we don’t really know what is going to happen in terms of this custody battle, and what lengths Preston will go to in order to ensure Scarlet regrets the decision to try and make it on her own. He’s not afraid to use his son as a bargaining chip, and I was filled with worry and wonder as to how this final courtroom drama would play out.

courtroom-sketch-artist_profile_image

Something that I didn’t quite care for in the midst of all of this though was that for the most part Jace remains in the background as Scarlet tries to resolve this divorce back in Kentucky. He’s still uber supportive through multiple phone calls and FaceTime sessions, but it was kind of a stark juxtaposition to having Jace be such a major part of the first half of the novel, to see him become almost a secondary character in the second part. It’s also kind of an emotional whiplash for the surly and brooding Jace to suddenly transform into a romantic poet. That being said, with Jace remaining back in Wyoming for a portion of this, we do get to see the special connection that Scarlet has with her son, and also see her stand up for herself against her dick of an ex. It was nice to see such a strong female lead not having to lean on her man to solve all her problems for her. It demonstrates this mother-son duo working together as a unit before they can turn all of their attention to moving forward with Jace stoically standing by in their corner.

6033653441_71356c8d07_b

*A copy of this novel was provided for an honest review*

Series: Michaels’ Mob, book 2. There are plenty of sexy cowboys to be found on this here Wyoming ranch. I wouldn’t mind seeing a few more highlighted in future books.

Final Impressions: This was a delightful continuation of the Michaels’ Mob series, and instead of portraying a newfound romance we get to see one that highlights the tumultuous path of having a second chance at love. I did enjoy the build-up we get at discovering what it was that separated Jace and Scarlet back when they were teens, as well as the growing suspense surrounding Scarlet’s bitter divorce with her ass-hat ex-husband. While the reasons behind their split were emotionally heartbreaking, I do wish that we had seen a few more tender moments behind the initial love story between Jace and Scarlet all those years ago. It was fun to see the entire Michaels clan back in action for this sequel, although I will say at times their familial connection seems almost a bit too perfect! I mean, is my family the only one that tends to argue around the holidays? No? Oh…well, never mind then.

Smut Level: Alright ladies and gents, you sort of have to wait a while before we eventually get to the good stuff, but once we do? Holy crap. We have some nookie in front of a fireplace, in a candlelit bathtub, not to mention some decent bedroom action. Seriously, I might need to find a Wyoming cowboy for myself.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $2.99 Kindle Price. Amazon Digital Services, LLC. 260 Pages.

RedRockRanchbydee_2011-1522

Come Home to Me by Peggy L. Henderson

This book seriously makes me wanna play the Oregon Trail computer game. We’ve got river crossings with wagons and animals, cholera sickness, and warnings not to kill too many bison or else it will spoil. Man, that was always the worst part of the game, rotting meat!

What’s it About?

come home to me

Jake Owens is tired of life on his parents’ Montana ranch, catering to city folk who want a taste of old-fashioned country living. He enjoys life in the fast lane, with fast cars and even faster women. When he falls in with the wrong crowd and is accused of murder, a stranger’s bizarre offer at a second chance might be his only hope to clear his name.

Rachel Parker is highly devoted to her family. A tragedy prompts a daring move to the Oregon Territory for a fresh start in a new land. After meeting the wagon train’s scout, the meaning of a fresh start may be more than she ever imagined.

Jake can’t believe he’s been sent back in time to act as scout for a wagon train headed for Oregon, and given the added burden of keeping one emigrant woman safe during the journey. He and Rachel are confused by their attraction to each other. Jake’s ill-mannered, unconventional ways are overshadowed only by his notorious reputation. Rachel’s traditional values and quiet, responsible character are the complete opposite of what attracts Jake to a woman. When their forbidden attraction turns to love, what will happen at the end of the trail?

First Impression

The set up to this second chance romance was superb. Jake Owens is a rancher who fell in with the wrong kind of city girl, and has now been framed for murder. He’s basically given up any hope of ever being free when a mysterious man disguised as his lawyer provides him with an opportunity too good to pass up. If he guides a group of families in a wagon train along the Oregon Trail, all of his misdeeds will be wiped clean. Sounds too good to be true right? Well, this mystery man failed to mention that the wagon train is actually taking place 150 years in the past, so imagine Jake’s surprise when he wakes up in a different time.

oregon trail

Normally the time travel discovery moment is my favorite in these types of romances, not to mention the difficulties of transitioning to a different way of life in another time. However, I was slightly disappointed that for the most part Jake settles into his frontier life rather quickly and seamlessly after an initial mini freak-out. I guess traveling via horse across great distances out west hasn’t changed much in the last 150 years. It definitely made sense that Jake would be chosen as the scout for this expedition considering his previous background as a rancher. If he’d had no wilderness skills to speak of I probably would have questioned why he was selected in the first place. It was just kind of disappointing that for the rest of the novel I had to remind myself that he was from the future. If anything it’s like he’s now in his natural habitat.

Cowboy 2

And You Thought That Was Complicated!

Something which threw me for a bit of a loop with this read was the complexity behind Rachel and Jake’s relationship. Sure, he’s from the future. You could see how that might complicate things slightly, what with being born centuries apart and all that. But hey, we’ve all seen this before with time travel romances! An added complication we get though in this instance is when Jake first sets his sights on Rachel. His loins start to burn, some verbal sparring is exchanged, but he is ultimately made aware of the fact that she is Mrs. Rachel Parker. That’s right, Mrs. She’s not alone in traveling the trail, having a drunk husband and a couple of boys in tow as well. Now for all of you who cringe slightly at the idea of our main romance involving a married woman, let me tell you you’re not alone. I had the same reservations when this little tidbit came to light. However, let me just tell you that all is not necessarily as it seems in this situation. That’s all I’m gonna say!

Passion

Back to the Future

While some aspects of traveling the trail were slightly repetitious, the story really came together for me in the end, and culminated on a high note. Most of us know how time travel romances progress. At the start, our time traveler feels completely lost and shocked at having ended up in a time so different than their own. They usually have one goal in mind throughout the majority of the novel, which is to somehow get back to their own time. There is some kind of end point, some sort of landmark which serves as their window home. Whether it be standing stones in the Highlands, or traversing the Oregon Trail with a wagon train full of emigrants, there is something which our lead character is focused on with the intent of returning to their own time.

What undoubtedly happens at some point in the story is they meet a certain special someone who convinces them to give up their present in order to remain in the past. So romantic. And that is also the case here, although Jake also seems torn between remaining in the past with Rachel, or somehow convincing the man who sent him back in time to transfer Rachel and her children back to the future with him. However, what happens when we realize that end result isn’t possible? How do we resolve a situation where Jake can’t remain in the past, and Rachel is unable to travel to the future? I must admit, it was certainly an interesting twis. Normally the main conflicting feature is when our lead admits to their lover the fact that they are from the future, but in this instance we get the situation where our lead will have no choice but to return to the future without Rachel by his side. Is it possible our lovers won’t find their happily ever after? Seems blasphemous, no?!

no way

Series: Second Chances Time Travel, book 1. Throughout most of the novel I kept thinking to myself, mkay this is enjoyable, but probably not a series I need to continue with. However, seeing how it all came together at the end, and with the epilogue especially I gotta say I’m pretty intrigued to see what might come next.

Final Impression: I wish there had been more of a history lesson involved throughout the novel. One of my favorite things about historical romances is learning more about the time period being featured. There wasn’t really anything covered I couldn’t have gathered from playing the Oregon Trail game for 20 minutes. There was also a missed opportunity when it came to interacting with the Native Americans along the trail. However, overall it was really a fun start to the series, with a final climactic build-up that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Smut Level: You’d think it would be tricky to find any alone time for intimacy on a wagon train with about 30 other families around you all the time. But you can’t help but love all the stops along a lonely river where Rachel and Jake just happen to find themselves alone and separated from the rest of the group.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. FREE. Amazon Digital Services LLC. 253 Pages.

The Deep Well of Love and Murder by Brenda Whiteside

A burly Argentinian rancher with a penchant for cooking and intimate tea ceremonies? Oh yeah, I’ll take me one of those. Looks like this one’s in Flagstaff. Give me a moment whilst I research flight costs, please and thank you.

What’s it About?

40512116

After an abusive childhood and a bad marriage, Laura Katz finally finds a home, stability…and possibly love. But her blissful refuge as nanny on the Meadowlark Ranch, miles from Flagstaff, shatters when her ex is released from prison, determined to reclaim her.

Randy Silva, the ranch’s foreman, has dreams of his own ranch, but a nasty land grab is underway.While the battle escalates, Laura steals his heart, but dangerous outsiders and a criminal ex-husband stand in their way. Randy’s in a perilous fight for his land and the woman he wants by his side.

Stakes are high, as the attacks on Randy and his ranch draw blood. While the vengeful ex-husband stalks Laura, a mob-backed land developer teams with a desperate gambler. Randy can’t be sure where the next attack will come from–or who will be caught in the crossfire.

First Impressions

Hands down this has been my favorite book in the series so far. It’s so cleverly crafted where it really does keep you guessing who our mystery vandal could be. There are three obvious suspects, but you constantly question who might be the ultimate perpetrator. It definitely kept me guessing, which is hard to do, and you’ll wonder if maybe it’ll end up being some unassuming fourth person who will end up being a complete shock. The possibilities are truly endless when we’re dealing with so many smarmy people in such a small town. These top three suspects are obviously people with selfish intentions, but you wonder which one has the stomach to do some of these more dastardly deeds.

PhotoRanchBanner1___Selected

A Villainous Reveal

In my opinion this is where the book was extra clever. We do discover the identity of our perpetrator about half-way through the book. When this came to light, I was immediately a bit let down thinking, well darn! There goes all the mystery and intrigue. As it turns out, I couldn’t be more wrong! I feel like if anything this is when the novel really hits its stride and ramps up the intensity level, especially when our lovable characters are unknowingly in the presence of such a ne’er do well. Another aspect I admired with this read is that the author never tried to rush a scene, specifically when it would come to a suspenseful scene at the end involving our villain and Laura.

taking-lives-wallpapers-29949-1883513

These scenes would always start you off on the edge, and then build and build in intensity, and you can tell our villain’s rage increases in these moments as well. Just when you think the scene will switch to something more mellow, or there will be a break in intensity, it ends up lasting a bit longer than you think it will. In these moments you really find yourself wondering, my goodness how far is this going to go? Will there actually be a happy ending for everyone where justice ultimately prevails? At times it can even bring you to the edge of your own comfort level where you may start to squirm in anticipation, but in a way I feel this almost puts us in the shoes of our lead character. We wonder what fate might befall them in that moment. Well written for sure!

giphy.gif

The Rancher and the Nanny

As for the romance aspect, overall I liked it. Can’t say I fell head over heels with it, but it was definitely good. I appreciated the fact that Randy and Laura’s relationship wasn’t solely about sex, even if it sort of starts out that way. They have both set their sights on each other, and Laura in particular is pretty brazen about wanting to start a physical relationship. However, they are both able to open up with each other about important aspects of their lives which they’d never revealed to another person before.

1982202_640px

For Randy, he shares his desire to start a horse camp for young children on his property, and also opens up about his wife’s death years before. Laura on the other hand delves into the details of her sad childhood and upbringing, as well as the abuse suffered at the hands of her mother’s boyfriend. The one aspect of their relationship that I didn’t particularly care for was when Laura would try to push Randy away. In the beginning, I could definitely understand why she would want to keep things more casual. Her past relationship with her ex-husband didn’t exactly end well, and he’s been stalking her recently. It’s clear why she might not trust her choices in men. But when this theme comes back around again at the end, it was a smidge frustrating, especially considering all the ways Randy has demonstrated his love for her through both his words and actions.

2120d32002e53a95f2bbf8978fc83e08

*A copy of this book was provided for an honest review*

Series: Love and Murder, book 5. Best book in the series so far! Some characters from the previous novels are referenced, but I don’t really feel as though it’s mandatory you read all of the previous books before trying out this one.

Should you read it? For those of you who like a little mystery and suspense thrown in with your romance, I get the feeling you’ll enjoy this one. Prepare to second-guess yourself every time you think you have the villain figured out. You’ll be on the edge of your seat by the end. Again, overall I did enjoy the romance aspect, specifically their emotional connection, but I feel like Laura’s multiple attempts to push Randy away seemed a bit unnecessary.

Smut Level: Apparently Randy needs to write a how-to book when it comes to shower sex. Immediate best-seller for sure.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $3.99 Kindle Price. The Wild Rose Press, Inc. 257 Pages.

Resisting the Rancher by Kadie Scott

Will might be a fictional character, but he is so freakin’ adorable you can just tell he’s hotter than a Texas summer.

What’s it About?

38172618

Rusty Walker has spent her entire life trying to earn her tough, ranching father’s respect and approval by learning the business inside and out. But now her uncompromising parent has decreed she must marry if she wants to inherit. Worse, her husband has to be someone who can help her run the business. As if she needs it!

Williams Hill kissed Rusty in a bar in an act of temporary insanity, and lost his heart to her on the spot. Despite the complications to his own rodeo stock business, he agrees to marry the feisty red-head, hoping to woo her once they’re hitched. But she only views him with suspicion and resentment.

Can this soft-spoken Texas cowboy convince his proud wife, who’s never known unconditional love, that she is everything he wants?

First Impressions

Something I particularly enjoyed about the relationship between Will and Rusty was its tone. In book one there was really a sense of drama and seriousness to Cash and Holly’s relationship. While the relationship between Rusty and Will is not without its complications, far from it, there is also a sense of fun and lightheartedness to it all which I found particularly endearing. Even their meet-cute will have you smiling, as Will witnesses Rusty jamming out to a song in her car while they’re both stopped at a red light. While the marriage agreement between them comes off as more of a business transaction than anything else, the two manage to keep up a flirtatious rapport throughout the whole of the novel which will have you grinning. After all, the two have to put on a convincing show of love and affection in front of Will’s family…might as well make the most of it! Will is definitely more enthusiastic in the beginning about putting on a good show through intimate caresses and passionate kisses. However, he quickly realizes that he’ll have to do everything he can to convince Rusty that the two have a connection which just might make this marriage work for real.

3772194284_29d41063cf

Beyond the Ultimatum

I’ve read many a marriage ultimatum romance in my time, and the majority tend to default towards physical attraction and sexual attention bringing our couple together to realize they want their marriage to last. Living in such close quarters, and oftentimes those performance kisses in front of others sparks a desire to consummate the marriage as soon as possible. And while these two certainly feel those sparks of desire, they still manage to have a strong relationship foundation built on a shared interest. Dare I say it, they can actually have a conversation with each other that doesn’t revolve around sex!

71673_708780017123_57619345_n

They have a mutual love and devotion to horses, and in my opinion this brings them even closer together than their physical connection. After all, it was the impetus for their first meeting, as they were both attending the same rodeo. After spending time together Rusty recognizes the passion and dedication Will holds towards his business, and the responsibility which comes with it. This even extends into his personal life with family, who are always coming to him to seek out his advice. Even Rusty found herself opening up to him about private matters she’d never shared with anyone else before. She can sense he cares for those close to him, and gives them just as much attention as he gives his ranch. For Will, his attraction to Rusty goes beyond just the physical. He admires her ability to ride, her intelligence and wit when it comes to understanding the business, and her prowess at standing up to her father. They’re a match made in rodeo heaven!

featurepic

Battle of the Ranches

For me the one crucial piece missing to this story was the connection between Rusty and her father’s ranch. She has been trying to prove her worth to her father practically her whole life in the hopes of inheriting it. She has now decided to marry basically a complete stranger for it. And yet, she seems to have more of an emotional connection to Will’s family ranch than she ever had to the one she’s going to such great lengths to inherit. It implies that for all this time she hasn’t been trying to win the ranch, but rather her father’s approval along with it.

Outlaw-Josey-Wales-film

That being said, I feel like witnessing a more emotional connection to her father’s ranch really could have added another layer of depth and turmoil to the story which was sort of the hallmark of book one. We could have seen this desire to fulfill the marriage ultimatum complicated even more by having to leave the ranch behind to go to another one instead. Perhaps a struggle to see if there’s a place in her heart for more than one ranch? But instead this other ranch seems to be so much more a symbol of family obligation than anything else.

Ranch157565432.jpg

*A copy of this book was provided for an honest review*

Series: Hills of Texas, book 2. I am really enjoying this series, and can’t wait to see what comes next!

Should you read it? This sequel is definitely distinct from the story style of the first book in this series, yet you’ll recognize and love the familial sentiment which continues throughout both novels. The flirtations between Will and Rusty are also addictive. It’s not hard to see why these two fell in love with each other. Considering how fast they got together, one can’t help but wonder what the likelihood would be of this relationship lasting in the real world. And I must say, I think their chances are pretty damn good! There’s an underlying strength and realness to their relationship which extends beyond the physical component.

Smut Level: Just like with book one, you do have to wait a while for the eventual consummation of our couple’s relationship. However, don’t distress! There’s plenty of kissing, nibbling and panting to keep you entertained until then.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $3.99 Kindle Price. Tule Publishing.

 

Saving the Sheriff by Kadie Scott

A man in uniform, a narrow alleyway, and a steamy kiss in the rain. Yup…sounds like my kind of book!

What’s it About?

36686167

There’s a storm brewing…

The day his wife died, Sheriff Cash Hill discovered she was leaving him for another man, one she’d loved since before their marriage. How could the single dad ever trust another woman again? But when Georgia’s best friend, Holly, comes back to town, something about Holly’s sweet, sassy vulnerability has his protective instincts kicking in hard. Holly Jensen left La Colina, Texas with regrets. She’s returned home to work as the new large animal vet and to watch over her best friend’s daughter. But Holly’s knowledge of Georgia’s past could rip a family apart. And she’s reluctant to go to the sexy…and single…sheriff, as he’s made it clear he wants nothing to do with her. Both are faced with a choice…stay locked in the past or allow their reservations to be silenced by a passion hotter than Texas summer nights. Can they learn to trust their own hearts and each other?

First Impressions

This novel manages to approach a very complicated romance in a brilliantly delicate way. After all, we are dealing with a single father whose wife died just one year before, and he’s starting to fall for his wife’s best friend. Definitely a love story that needs to be dealt with carefully so as not to seem widely inappropriate. And I’d have to say it was handled damn near perfectly, and you never really get the sense that either Cash or Holly are somehow crossing a line by exploring a relationship with each other. While Cash is still reeling from the death of his wife, we quickly discover that all was not perfect in their little family. Yes, they may have had a beautiful daughter together, but their marriage was seemingly one of obligation after an unexpected pregnancy. And on top of it all, on the day of his wife’s death Cash found a letter from her stating that she was leaving him because she had always been in love with another man.

giphy.gif

As for Holly, she’s had a crush on Cash for as long as she can remember, and when her best friend made a move on him which resulted in pregnancy, their friendship almost fell apart. Holly has since moved back to this small Texas town to keep an eye on Sophia, the daughter of Cash and her deceased best friend. Little does Cash know that Holly is aware of another of his wife’s secrets. There’s a chance the darling Sophia might not be his after all. In the beginning both Cash and Holly are wary to start any kind of relationship. They both understand their history is a complicated one, and when Holly reveals the possibility of Cash not being Sophia’s father, things get even worse. However, something that I particularly appreciated with this read was that the two really don’t rush into anything. Sure, they feel a simmering attraction, but they obviously have some things to work out together. While it does prolong their eventual romp in the hay (quite literally!), you also have to admire their ability to talk out some of their issues before jumping into anything too hastily.

61533728-loving-couple-retired-to-the-straw-they-are-happy-

A Shy Extrovert

Something I could really relate to while reading this book was Holly’s demeanor. She can come across to others as very personable and outgoing, but internally she is reeling from shyness. Whether it be with Cash, his family, or even his daughter, Holly has the tendency to use humor as a way to deflect attention away from herself, and avoid having too many personal discussions. My God it’s like reading a description of myself! I could also relate to the internal struggle Holly was experiencing at moving back to her small hometown after going to school in a big city.

151COLSUB004_0

“At a school of over forty-thousand students, it’d been easy to blend in and go unnoticed. She’d forgotten how into everyone else’s lives people got around here. Small-town Texas.” As someone who grew up in a small town in Ohio, I totally understand what Holly is talking about here. There is something about going to a big school, in a big city, where you have the ability to blend into the crowd. You rarely stand out and are able to just go about your life without the worry of others getting up in your space. But when you inevitably go back to small-town life, you go through a kind of culture shock at the suddenness of not being able to stay invisible.

A Bluebonnet Field Under Evening Sky | Texas

A Title of Deception

Since the death of his wife, Cash has become a shell of his former self. His ability to trust others has lessened considerably, especially when it comes to women. His wife hid the fact that she had been involved with another man right before she became entangled with Cash, which has now raised doubt as to the paternity of his daughter. Not only that, but Holly was aware of this other relationship, and kept it a secret from Cash for so long, thereby impeding his ability to trust her as well. However, it is because of Holly that Cash is able to learn to love again. He is able to break out of this shell he’s been suffering in for the past year so he can be a better father to his daughter, and a man that Holly can fall in love with.

videoblocks-young-couple-dream-about-the-future-at-sunset-silhouette-slow-motion-4k-romantic-man-and-woman-kiss-and-share-lifetime-plans-new-family-love-and-affection-cinematic-backlit-s

Although we see how this story encompasses “Saving the Sheriff”, in my opinion the novel has a much stronger focus on saving Holly. Her back story is just as compelling as that which Cash went through with his wife. In her mind, Holly is undeserving of love based on her own actions years before following the death of her grandmother. As the eldest of three children, Holly was suddenly thrust into a caregiver position for her two younger siblings. But rather than put her life on hold, she made the decision to go off to school, and put her siblings in the care of a foster family. The small Texas town felt that Holly had abandoned her family, and Holly came to believe the vitriol they spouted her way. When Cash and his daughter Sophia come along, she doesn’t feel worthy of becoming a part of their lives for fear she might one day abandon them like she did her siblings. Holly is standing on the precipice of living her life alone, and Cash takes it upon himself to prove that she is not only worthy of love, but deserving of his love specifically. As you can see, we’re not just dealing with a tale of “Saving the Sheriff”. These two really come to save each other.

original

*A copy of this book was provided for an honest review*

Series: Hills of Texas, book 1. Cash’s family is delightfully entertaining. With a number of siblings, I can’t wait to discover what romance is in store for each and every one of them!

Should you read it? This is a very well thought-out tale of romance. Normally when dealing with a tale where two leads are dragging their feet to enter into a relationship, you just wanna yell at them to get over it and have sex already. But with this book their hesitancy really does make sense, and you become intrigued to figure out how they’ll be able to overcome all of these obstacles together. And there are definitely a number of hurdles for them to jump. The incorporation of Cash’s daughter into the story was damn near perfect. Not too much, not too little, and she’s pretty freakin’ adorable. I do feel that this first book in the series is really laying the groundwork by introducing us to all the characters of this loving family, and that Cash and Holly are sort of the starting off point for even better things to come. I for one am all in, and am excited to see where this series might take us!

Smut Level: There’s only one sex scene, and it comes pretty late in the story. That being said, it’s in a barn hayloft for crying out loud, so totally worth it. We also get to enjoy plenty of steamy kisses before then!

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $3.99 Kindle Price. Tule Publishing. 206 Pages.