I didn’t really pay attention to the blurb because I saw the book was by an author that I’ve come to enjoy, but I did notice the cute cover in passing. I’ve grown used to a certain formula in the author’s plots and adjusted to her storytelling style so that I easily sink right into her books. This one followed things to a certain extent, but the premise that brought all the characters together and into contact with each other was something new. I think I pondered the inexplicableness of it for as long as the heroine did and still came up short. I really hope there are more books following that might give me some better answers. Now, while the thing that held it altogether left me scratching my head, the story of three sisters meeting for the first time and forming the bonds of family, working a ranch, and a romance with a cowboy sheriff made me kick back and feel right at home.
The story opens with ex-Army sergeant, Abby Malloy, arriving in time for her estranged father’s graveside service and learning from the executor of the will that Ezra Malloy placed some interesting conditions on the inheritance she will share with her newly met younger half-sisters. Old Ezra wanted a boy so he married three times and divorced three times sending each woman away with a settlement when they produced a girl. He never wanted to see or meet any of them. Abby, Shiloh and Bonnie all grew up embittered and angry toward the old man who was their father. Each had hard things to live through- especially Bonnie- and now they not only inherit their share of the money, but the ranch if for no other reason than to prove to Ezra that he missed out on wishing for a boy. To do so, they must all live there for one year. Anyone who gives up and goes home just gets their money share and forfeits the ranch. Abby soon learns that her younger sisters are as stubborn and tough as she is in her own way. Abby had a plan, but now that she’s there, all she has are questions and she is so confused. She wants to understand the man who tossed her aside because she wasn’t a boy and how her mother could have ever loved such a man. She also wants to make sense of that spark and more that stretches between her and the man owning the ranch next door, Sheriff Cooper Wilson.
Cooper eyes all three of Ezra’s girls at the funeral and observes not a sign of grief or feeling toward him. He was friend with the old man, but he had his own opinion about Ezra’s antiquated ideas about the value of men and women. Seeing the strength and steel in each woman particularly the oldest, Cooper knows that Ezra missed out. Abby grabs his attention like no woman ever had, but he knows he can’t doing anything about it since he suspects that she probably won’t be putting down roots here and he’s too rooted to ever consider anywhere else. Rusty, Ezra’s one hand at the ranch, takes on the supervision of the Malloy women’s work and it will be Rusty who gets the ranch if the sisters all quit after seeing what real ranch work is like. Cooper and Abby give into the attraction between them and then step back into the friends category, but it was a mistake because they are destined to be so much more than friends if only Abby will agree to stay and get over her fears of commitment.
The book is pretty easy-going and laid back in its tone and pace mostly relying on the internal struggles caused by an old man’s mistakes to give the book tension and excitement. Oh not to say that nothing happens because it does. Cooper and Abby knock boots pretty early on in the story and then retreat, advance, and retreat again. I enjoyed the meeting and growing relationship between the sisters, the action of every day ranch life and the romance between Abby and Cooper, but overshadowing all that for me was the cruel oddities of old Ezra Malloy.
I was flabbergasted when Abby’s story came out and then Shiloh and Bonnie had similar stories. Abby’s mother came to the area, fell in love with Ezra, they were married about a year and when Abby was born, Ezra divorces her, sends her away with a settlement and tells her not to come back. Then each girl spends the rest of their lives with a single mom knowing their dad rejected his wife and child because the girls weren’t boys. And they end up with more questions and surmises for answers once they lived on the ranch. Ezra had a lot to account for because each girl ended up with issues about getting involved with men and being rejected. I just couldn’t wrap my head around such a thing. People walk away from relationships and their children all the time, but this was just so calculated. I am intrigued in an appalling way so I hope that each of the remaining sisters get their books and maybe more might come out about this situation.
Just as an aside, this one is connected to Long, Hot Texas Summer with shared characters, but can be read standalone.
All in all, it was a cozy Contemporary Western Romance and I would recommend it for those who enjoy spicy cowboy romance in down-home ranch-style setting.
My thanks to Net Galley for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Literary Pickers #80 Uniform
Romance Roundabout #78 CR
Cliché Klatch #16 ‘More nervous than a whore sitting in the front row at a tent revival’
Mt. TBR #49
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