Straddling two worlds, a man is forced to choose in this passionate romance set against the world of wild mustang round-ups, ranching, and reconciling a life lived in two worlds. This is the latest release in the Hot Cowboy Nights series and shapes up to be the best yet.
Miranda Sutton, fledgling filmmaker is called by her boss to film a horse whisperer session for a documentary film. She jumps at the chance to film something beyond a commercial and encounters the larger than life and come on strong man who has a way with the horses and the ladies. The encounter unsettled her, but it was brief. Later, a chance gig at the request of a government required documentation comes to film a wild mustang round-up and there she meets him again only now he is hostile Keith Russo who is none too pleased to see her after the documentary destroyed his career. She is captivated by him and equally captivated by the plight of the wild mustangs. Miranda thought she wanted to make films in Hollywood, but a series of encounters with Keith and the horses lead her to rethink her life and find a new purpose that is infinitely more satisfying. Now if only she can get Keith to saddle up and ride with her on this one.
Keith is half-Shoshone and struggling just as much as the wild untamed horses on the range to find his place in a world where he has never belonged. Unsettled by his past failures, struggle with family and his own restlessness, he is ready to lash out when he encounters the camerawoman who worked on that documentary that ruined his career.
But once he can see past that, the woman who hides behind her camera becomes a curiosity for him. Keith doesn’t believe he has it in him to settle down, but he is happy to explore an attraction with Miranda who is so much more than she seemed. He unleashes her passion while she challenges him to dream of something solid and permanent for the first time.
I was very taken with this fourth installment in the series- which by the way could be read as a standalone or even out of order the way it is written. Personally, I read it after books one and two without book three and did alright.
But anyway, yes, this one rivals, Rough Rider, for my favorite. I really like when characters are faced with a crisis that is internal and Keith Russo is. Miranda is a great part of the story and gets half the narration, but truly this is Keith’s story as he has to figure out who he is and then what he really wants, then he has to come up with the courage and trust to go for it. The author heavily compared him to the wild unbroken horses he works with and the mental image really worked for me.
Keith’s internal conflict is only one of the elements. There is some good action with the wild mustang hunt in Nevada and the prison training facilities, the ranch life in Montana, and the sizzling passion between this pair of lovers. There is also Miranda’s much gentler, but still there need to find herself just as much as Keith was working toward the same end.
I really loved this pair – plenty of sizzle- yet mostly for how they were together though they have some real head-butting moments. Miranda comes off as a mousy type at first, but she’s not. Thankfully. She ends up with big dreams that require hard work (and I’m not just referring to her grandmother’s ranch and the horses). Keith was enough to keep her on her toes. In fact, she can get down right pushy when she decides she knows best and it bites her when she pushes too hard at Keith. But then again, he wasn’t doing so well with his staring up into the sky and picking his navel routine so he might have needed her verbal boots up the butt to rile him into action. Their relationship is stormy as a result. I’m truly glad she did a hang in there with him because he wasn’t an easy man to love, but they were so good for each other and worked well together.
The author does her homework when setting up the backdrop for this book (and others, I’ve noticed). I’m actually moderately familiar with the settings she wrote in and the type of people who live there. This story rang true and felt authentic. It added depth and heart beyond the passion of the romance whether it was the wild mustang situation, Native Americans and life on the reservation and outside it, or older folks alone and faced with a family ranch that has been home and they may lose because the younger generation isn’t interested. Just so many things that added layers and provoke a response in the reader beyond the romance.
All in all, this was a hard-fought, passionate and exciting contemporary western romance with an authentic setting, fascinating backdrop, and well drawn intriguing characters. Definite recommend!
My thanks to Sourcebooks Casablanca for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
A little something extra: BEEN THERE!
Once in a while, a book’s settings are places I have been. I thought you might enjoy some pictures I’ve taken from the areas of South Central Wyoming (Wind River Shoshone reservation, wild horses enjoying a picnic shelter near the reservoir) and Northern Nevada that are mentioned in the story.