As the holiday season has arrived, I’ve gathered together several books to put me in the mood so to speak. In this instance, I was excited because it was a holiday book, a story set on a horse ranch and the hero is a cowboy.
The story’s focus isn’t really the holidays or a really warm cozy romance per se because the characters are hurting, but lonely people who aren’t in the mood to appreciate the holidays until they can get things sorted.
The book opens with a down-trodden and desperate Missy come to her recently deceased brother’s horse ranch in Oregon hoping to get some money out of it since she has recently lost her job with no prospects forthcoming.
When she arrives, she discovers a morose part-owner in Brent who sees her as a threat to all he has painstakingly built there on the ranch. She is informed that the ranch is new and not doing much better than breaking even at this point. Seeing no other alternative, Missy commits to sticking with the ranch as Brent’s partner even though she knows next to nothing about what it will be like to work a horse ranch.
Seeing no other alternative, Brent tries to work with the closed off woman who is the sister of his late friend. She holds him at arms length, but she does fulfill her promise of working hard and learning quickly. After a time, they both start to act on the attraction that has been simmering on the surface. They form a friendship, but after a time Brent wants more. The trouble is Missy feels the pull of liking and trusting Brent while dealing with the shadows of her past that are pulling in the opposite direction telling her not to trust. Brent is more open with his feelings, but he too feels guilt about something in his past plus he has already had one woman love him and leave him.
The blurb of this one had some promise and I love the idea of a Western-style backdrop with a cowboy hero. The problem is that I got so frustrated with the tug o’ war Missy was pulling on the relationship with Brent. I do get it that she might feel the need to exercise caution in her dealings with men after getting burned once- yes that’s right once, but she gets to know Brent and still watches him like he’s some grenade with the pin already pulled out. And when he finally tells her after so many times of her pulling away or getting angry and cold with him for nothing he has done wrong, that he can’t keep chasing her, she gets hurt and annoyed that he just wants to protect his heart from anymore bruising.
The very end of the story did provide that nice holiday moment when the tall handsome cowboy does something to make her swoon a bit. There are a few good scenes by the tree actually. So in the end, I got a little of my romantic holiday mood read after all.