With this second installment of the Burnt Boot, TX series, the feud is heating up and it’s more than banjos that dual as Sawyer O’Donnell takes the job as foreman for one of the neutral people, Gladys Cleary who owns a small spread and runs the store. He is joined by Gladys’ niece, Jill Cleary, and almost the moment he meets the sassy red head sparks fly. But not between the two newest members of the Burnt Boot community. The feuding families, the Brennans and Gallaghers, want Gladys’ ranch which along with its water rights sits between them. Gladys is willing her spread to Jill when she dies so both feuding factions now treat her as a prize to win or a bone to fight over. Jill isn’t sure which, but thank goodness for Sawyer who stands on the shaky, volatile neutral ground beside her.
I am really getting a kick out of these flirty, feisty, contemporary cowboy romances set in small town ranch country of Texas. This is the second book and in a pinch it can be read as a standalone, but I think the reader would enjoy it a sight more if the books were read in order. The overarcing theme of ‘The Feud’ and scenes with characters that carry over from the first book would make more sense, but admittedly the immediate romance and story of Sawyer and Jill would be okay on its own. I had a good time with their story and enjoy the author’s humor-laced meandering, down home style of writing. It can get silly especially some of the feud scenes, but it also draws me into the story so that I’m disappointed to leave when the last page shows up. Now, I’m eager for the next O’Donnell cousin that is coming to town, the wild cowboy, Rhett.
So, as I said, this one kicks off with the arrival of Jill right behind Sawyer’s almost new arrival on Gladys’ ranch. They don’t even get a chance to sort out ranch responsibilities when Jill’s other aunt, Polly Cleary breaks her leg and has to go through surgery and is laid up. Gladys must care for her so that leaves Sawyer and Jill juggling the ranch responsibilities, Gladys’ store and Polly’s bar. They soon figure out there is safety in numbers when they are individually accosted by members of the two feuding families that plan to win Sawyer and Jill into their respective camps. Sawyer is fought over by Betsy Gallagher and Kinsey Brennan and Jill gets equal attention from Tyrell Gallagher and Quaid Brennan. Meanwhile, the two families stir up their feud to dangerous levels as livestock is stolen, fights, and a kidnapping result. Sawyer and Jill have their reasons for not diving into a relationship, but they are thrown together as allies, then friends, and finally start to feel the draw of love even if both shy away from it. Not that the feud and the hard work they must do gives them much time to do anything about it.
My thoughts on this one were all good. It meanders a bit and ends abruptly while I was thinking there was more to tell- maybe in the next book. I confess that the feuders drive me nearly to insanity with their antics, but I still had a good time. Sawyer and Jill were a good match. They fight it a bit with their own reasons for not thinking a relationship is a good idea, but their scenes together are warm, fun and even passionate. The backdrop of the ranch area/small town feel was almost like a character of its own. It was fun to have the three old ladies present and nice to pop in with Finn and Callie with the kids from book one.
These are like my curl up and relax books that put a smile on my face. I recommend the series and author to Contemporary Romance fans who love their cowboys and modern western settings, who appreciate humor in dialogue and scenes and who like their romance nearer the sweeter end of the spectrum though the passion is there.
My thanks to Sourcebooks Casablanca and Net Galley for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.