It was the title. And then I read the blurb and the story sounded cute and fun since it had been a while since I read the online dating trope along with small town. Utterly irresistible!
The book turned out to be the fourth in the Bluebonnet, TX series which I wasn’t aware of when I got started. Then I started to get that ‘these pairs all know each other’ vibe and checked. But I was already about a quarter of the way in when it happened so I shrugged and kept reading. Turns out, this one worked fine as a standalone or out of order since truthfully, I’m still not sure who half of Rowdy’s adopted family are.
So, the story starts with an embarrassing scene at the store when Jade is unloading her cart at the register and the guy who gets under her skin the most saunters up just as her four packages of cookies and 40DD bras are being rung up. Rowdy has rubbed her wrong since day one in his Redneck Casanova way. And now she has just made his day as he watches her discomfort.
Good thing she has her on-line romance with ‘Shy Cowboy’ Robbie to help her get past her upcoming thirtieth birthday. After six month of online messages and chats, Robbie wants to meet. What will he think when he encounters plus-size shy Jade instead of the vibrant, flirty Skye?
Rowdy has enjoyed his carefree life of a different girl each night, singing and playing in the band at the dance hall, rebuilding and repairing computers, and spending time with his adopted family. But lately- okay since he encountered Skye online- he starts to dream of something a bit more permanent. He has told nobody about Skye, but now they are finally going to meet up for her birthday. Rowdy hunts up the perfect gift, chooses the best restaurant with music and dancing afterward, and wears his best clothes only to encounter…yes, that is the stuck up Jade Ballard. And yes, she drove off without a word once she realized it was him. Figures!
And let the mayhem ensue as Jade and Rowdy both have to adjust to the fact that their perfect on-line lover is that irritating person in their lives. Impossible! Or maybe not? And now Jade needs Rowdy’s help to fake an engagement to her family and his family wants in on the secrets now? Dares, Girls Nights Out, a threesome or not, BBQs, letters from prison, Lingerie Shopping runs, are they really going to try it on horseback??? Only in Bluebonnet, Texas, right?
Well this one was quite the roller-coaster ride in some ways. When I first started this book, I almost didn’t finish it after chapter one. Jade was depressing and went all whiny about her weight and her life ad nauseum. But then the narration switched and Rowdy took over for chapter two and my interest returned. And when chapter three hit and I realized that these two were anonymous on-line dating and didn’t know their real life personas? Hooked.
The story was told alternate narrators taking over alternate chapters. I really liked that. I also liked that though this had its comedic parts, it was actually a rather bittersweet and heartwarming story, too. Jade and Rowdy come from two different worlds, but their pasts were both sad and lonely. They have several fails and stops and starts as they have to work at personal growth and toward a relationship. It wasn’t easy and I found that made it believable.
The author really made their relationship work even if it got off to a rocky start and had many shaky moments. Neither consider themselves a prize or deserving of something special, but they show each other that they are very much so.
Rowdy said some mean stuff at the beginning when they were sniping at each other, but in truth, he found Jade a physically beautiful woman and very attractive as well as sweet and understanding of others (well, other than the time she put her foot in her mouth and channeled her snob of a mother). And Jade saw past Rowdy’s past to the good, caring, loyal hardworking man he is.
They had some sizzle together and I laughed at their antics as they teased and dared each other. Still not convinced by the sex on horseback, but it was good for a laugh from me. But the money scene was the last one before the epilogue. Rowdy came into his own and had me grinning from ear to ear with his playful cowboy charm.
Beyond the romance were the other connections of friends and family. This is where most of the humor came into play. Jade’s family were the stuffy types though her dad and brother were a hoot. Rowdy’s family were not actual relations, but they were all a close-knit group and several seemed to be the previous books’ characters.
All in all, I enjoyed this fun opposites attract small town romp with a pair that made me sigh and made me laugh before making me do a swoony ah. I would definitely recommend this one to Contemporary Romance fans who prefer some spice.
I received this book from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.
Romance Roundabout #35 CR
Literary Pickers #34 Blind Date
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