And it finally comes down to the last story of the Cowboys & Brides series with Mason Harper, the widowed rancher with twin hellcat nine year old daughters. I have been so curious to see what woman would be put with this needing man and his family. Like the others, the author paired up a couple who worked well and were exactly what the other needed. The story was full of laughter, wit, heart-touching moments, food, family and Texas ranch living.
One morning, Mason Harper’s girls find the unexpected on their front porch swing and instantly decide that the sleeping lady in the soiled bridal gown is their birthday present from their daddy who went out and got them a new mama just like they’ve always wanted. No matter what anyone said, they liked this one and they were keeping her.
For the lady in question, she thinks she must have hit her head in that car crash harder than she thought when the twin girls go on and on about her being their mama and marrying their daddy. Annie Rose slept too long on that porch swing and was caught fair before she could continue making her escape from the abusive man who might be following. The rancher with the calm assessing green eyes who calmed his girls and wanted the doctor to look after Annie Rose sent a spark of attraction through her that worried her because she was determined never to fall so fast for a man again after the last bad experience left her on the run for life. She was so terrified of her abusive ex-boyfriend who promised to never let her go that she ran her car into a tree before it slid into a pond. Her nursing experience told her she had a concussion. As she assessed the situation, she learned that Mason Harper needed a new nanny for his girls and he was willing to let her stay a few days until the replacement arrived both to appease the girls and because he really needed someone with them while he was out working the ranch. She’d play it cool and get back on the road as soon as possible though a part of her really wanted to stay with these folks.
Mason knew he was crazy to let a stranger into his home, but there was something about her that he wasn’t ready to see leave. She came clean that night about her past and how she ended up on his porch and the detective said her story checked out. This was good because for the first time his girls liked their new nanny who they were persuaded was a hybrid mama-nanny and they were blossoming under Annie Rose’s care as was he. Others were more skeptical of Annie Rose’s presence, but he didn’t care other than she made him feel guilt about betraying his wife. She was nothing like his dead wife in appearance, but she was the first woman to really attract him, who truly cared for his girls, who loved ranch life, and was beautiful inside and out. He struggled hard against the guilt, but he was determined that he would keep her around. He had his work cut out for him too because Annie Rose still cringed and flinched if he moved wrong after enduring her last relationship and some of those closest to him thought she wasn’t genuine and had ulterior motives for coming to the ranch. He would just have to show Annie Rose ‘How to Marry a Cowboy’.
The plot on this one doesn’t involve any brilliant fast-paced action. The conflicts are nearly angst-less and easily solved making this a relaxing feel-good read. It’s just a gentle love story between two hurting, lonely people involving a pair of feisty, determined girls, goats, a cat, a porch swing, home-made how to manuals, and life in a small Texas ranching community. I love the down home feel and laughed at the twins’ antics. The romance begins with instantaneous attraction, but the daily contact of sharing a home and life have it progressing rapidly. There is a lot of sweetness involved, but these two get up to some spicy loving too.
I enjoyed the brief cameos and scenes with the couples and people from the past books. I closed the book with a feeling of loss not wanting to leave this small Texas community, but I was glad when the author’s note at the end indicated that there would be a new series taking up the stories of four more cowboys two of which were minor characters in an earlier book. I did want to point out that the Cowboys & Brides series is rather versatile and can be read in order or each book as a standalone if the reader happens to grab one out of order.
All in all, I enjoyed this book particularly because it was a matter of falling in love with family and not just a couple isolated in their romance. The scenes are bucolic and slow, yet they sparkled too. Those who enjoy easy-going, humorous, slightly spicy Contemporary Romance set in Texas ranch country should definitely give this one a try.
My thanks to Sourcebooks Casablanca and Net Galley for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my honest review.