I swear this series just gets cuter and more heartwarming as it goes and yet there’s still all that heat generated when the hero and heroine knock boots together. The homey tones, the laughter, the playful plots and the passionate romances are like sinfully delicious forbidden dessert.
In this story, Emily Cooper arrives at Lightning Ridge Ranch up in North Texas in search of Clarise Adams nee Barton to fulfill her gramps’ dying wish. A letter was found sixty years after it was posted having never left the post office to be delivered. Emily was tasked to make sure this letter along with several others were to be delivered to the lady they were meant for in the first place. Once upon a time, Clarise and her grandpa had corresponded when he was away at war and had big plans for the future that never came to be when she never heard from him and he never went looking when he didn’t hear back from her.
Greg Adams arrives home from a cattle sale to find Emily established as his grandmother’s temporary assistant. Emily was ordered by her granddad before he died to take some time and ponder her future instead of jumping right back in to make a go of the hundred acre spread she inherited. She has agreed to take that month at the ranch instead of heading on to Florida like she planned. Greg thinks it’s a great plan if only for the sake of convincing Clarise that she needs an assistant in the ranch office with the errands, computer and paperwork along with chauffeuring Clarise around while he’s out doing actual ranch work. It doesn’t hurt that his libido sat up and took notice of the lovely pert lady either.
Emily leaps right into the life at the ranch between running around with Clarise and her old cronies- Dotty, Rose and Maggie- and helping Greg when he’s shorthanded. She fits in and everyone accepts and loves having her there. She loves the ranch and the rest of them too, but her home is back at Shine Canyon in West Texas and that’s where she plans on returning when the month is out. Every day with Greg makes her really struggle to hold to her set plan and it doesn’t escape her notice that she is jealous over the idea of any other woman dancing with him or winning a date with him at the charity ‘win a date with a cowboy’ auction.
Greg comes to the realization that Emily is the only woman he will ever want. He has dreams of her in his bed and dreams of a lifetime spent with her. She’s perfect in every way since she has ranching in her blood and she makes his serious and no-nonsense approach to life jump out the window when she’s around. He has a small plan to convince her to stay, but fortunately he’s not the only one plotting to keep Emily. He has a pair of crafty old women and two adorable kittens on his side, but will it be enough or are her roots sunk too deep into the West Texas dirt?
This is one of those stories that just meanders along at its own pace. There’s a nice plot and all, but it just gets comfortable as it makes its way in the general direction it’s headed. There is conflict, but it’s not deep and angsty. Emily has a decision to make, but her path to that decision isn’t loaded with overthinking and unneeded torture. Quite refreshing for a change after some other books I’ve read recently. The passion between Greg and Emily builds as does the relationship against the backdrop of every day life in a ranching community. Even with the romance, this couple are honest with themselves and each other. Sooo nice to just read about two people enjoying the getting to know you stages of romance and enjoying the use of that twin bed up in the out of the way attic room in the barn. It brings out emotions, but they are mild. The conflicts in the story aren’t huge barriers, but they are there to keep things interesting. It was just sweet and sassy from cover to cover.
The characters and dialogue are probably the best part outside the romance of Greg and Emily. Clarise and her best friend, Dotty live in the ranch house with Greg and now Emily. Clarise just wants to secure Greg’s future happiness and spend her golden years watching him take over ranching operations and starting a family. She’s not above plotting behind his back to achieve this. Dotty cooks and cusses with equal aplomb, but she’s Clarise’s battle buddy in the campaign to hook Emily for Greg. Other characters like the ranch hands, Greg’s best friend Jeremiah and others from the community along with Emily’s cousin, Taylor all just add so much depth to the story when they’re in the scenes. I laughed so hard when all those old ladies got together making up a fake profile and pretending to be Greg on the singles websites (no ladies when the women speak of leather and whips they aren’t talking saddles and quirts).
All in all, I loved experiencing ranch life and romance with Greg and Emily. I look forward to finally getting Mason’s story with his harridan twin girls. I would recommend this book and the series to those who enjoy light contemporary Western Romance with a pinch of spice to the romance. It could be read as a standalone, but there are light connections with each story running through the series.
My thanks to Sourcebooks Casablanca and Net Galley for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.