This third installment of the Hotel Rodeo series of novellas was one I anticipated after the way things were set up in the last book. The spotlight has shifted from Ty and Monica to Zac and Delaney who were minor characters in the other books. The humor and heat competed in this fun, heartwarming story.
As noted, this is the third book. It really needs to be read in order even if the main characters are different because the story line began in the other books as did the intro to the characters.
This story opens with older bull rider, Zac McDaniel, making the decision that it is time he retired from the rodeo circuit and concentrate on ranching. His ranch needs work and money to get it going after the neglect, but his old friend, Ty, presents him with another couple options. Unknown to Ty, it is the second and more outlandish one that motivates Zac more than the first one which is to sellout and become a partner with Ty at Ty’s Oklahoma ranch breeding rodeo bulls.
Ty’s flippant offer that Zac should put himself forward to Ty’s ex Delaney as a human stud because she wants a baby disturbs Zac and settles deep in him. And this is because, unknown to Ty or Delaney, Zac has carried a torch for her since the night he met her and she chose Ty so he had to step aside and then knowing that for years, for whatever reason, she held him responsible for breaking up her marriage when it was simply a matter of two people making a mistake and not being right for each other. Zac let things lie for years since he believed that trying to be in a committed relationship and raising a family wasn’t a good idea when he was gone nine months of the year. But now? Zac has waited long enough for his dream of settling down and having a family- and having Delaney.
Delaney McCall has her life planned out to the last dot of the ‘i’ and cross of the ‘t’ whether its her plans to breed rodeo bulls or breed herself so she can have a baby since she definitely doesn’t want the problems of having a man around- not after what happened with Ty anyway. But from the moment, tall, quiet, and determined Zac enters her life offering to be her baby daddy along with the temptation of getting off the fence and back into the game of life with another man, her plans start falling by the wayside. Delaney knows the reason she is holding Zac at arm’s length and putting forward her rules and plans for a clinical artificial approach to making a baby is out of fear just like she has the daily, mounting evidence before her that Zac means what he says and says what he means. If she can get over her fears, she might have the chance for something real.
This one started off a little rocky for me, but I feel that is more on me than the story itself. I had to get in the right frame of mind to appreciate what I was getting. A romantic comedy where a woman is determined to have a baby while equally determined to keep a man out of the picture and a man even more determined that she has things all wrong and he’s up to the challenge of proving it to her. Also, a small niggle was the early attitude of the heroine toward the hero. She was harsh and judgmental toward Zac. I was pleased when he called her on her attitude and she owned to her mistake.
Once I settled in and got the feel for this new pair of lovers and their unique story, I found it engaging. Zac has to work so hard to convince a once bitten twice shy woman that he is not her ex and she can trust him. And Delaney needs to work through her fears and coping mechanisms to truly see Zac and appreciate that he respects her and wants her.
When Zac stood in a fertility center waiting room and had a nurse announce in a carrying voice in front of other people the instructions for him to give both his urine and semen samples, I laughed, but I also wanted to drag Delaney there by her hair and point ‘see what this wonderful man is willing to do for you?’ Fortunately, Delaney isn’t dense and she does see and it is her epiphany moment.
The author impressed me with the way she doesn’t write formulaic romance. Here is a pair who have to overcome the damage done by a messy previous relationship that is ticklish because the woman was the one in the relationship and the guy is best buds with her ex. Not that a best friend falling for the ex is unique, but how this played out on top of Delaney’s strong need to prove herself because she came from wealth and was self-taught when it came to ranching work. This is a quick and shorter story, but I felt the author touched on several issues that would arise from that and how they would affect anything coming after.
It’s the little things that can give a story more flavor and depth. I also enjoyed and appreciated the author addressing what a woman would face as a rancher and bull breeder along with the work put into such tasks. It was obvious that this was researched.
And as to my reservations from the last story because there were things needing to be addressed, I felt this story followed up on the last book well reinforcing where things were left with Ty and Monica even as it turned to finishing up Ty’s past with Delaney and Zac. This one tied things off neatly.
The blending of addressing the past, the sparks between the lovers, and the humor made this a real treat to read. I feel the series gets better with each new installment. Again, I would recommend these to those who enjoy modern cowboy romances on the spicy side.
I picked up this book from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.
Romance Roundabout #91 CR