This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Western Romance
Published by Berkley
Released on October 15, 2019
Source: NetGalley, Publisher
This is a really sweet story grounded in some darkness. Overall, this is almost two sweet and nice. Easy.
Coming into the series without reading books 1 & 2 left me a little confused, but not a ton as I grew to know the characters somewhat. Jason Clements is a former Navy master-at-arms. Things just haven’t been the same since he came back home. PTSD plagues him and for a while he had it under control with his support dog, but since his dogs death, he can’t seem to hold down a job. Getting a job recommendation from his cousin seems like his only chance left, but this green horn knows nothing about cattle ranches. And now he has to prove he can do the job and hide his problems at the same time.
Sage Cooper loves Painted Barrell with all her heart, but it’s time to move on. Her father has passed away, she has sold off most of the cattle and now she is about to put the ranch on sale to move somewhere she can find a life, love and a family. When a man walks into the post office, library, county offices and more, Sage takes it in stride. This has been her job since high school and nothing phases her holiday spirit.
Jason and Sage hit it off and Sage offers to help Jason learn about taking care of a ranch over the weekend. Yeah, that seems a little fast, but she doesn’t dismiss Jason’s fears, protectiveness or his need to keep a job and his life private. When Jason goes to work on Monday, they know he isn’t as experienced as he said he was and now his shifty eyes scanning everything and the sweaty brow give them cause for alarm as they have children, wives and furry pets to worry about.
The story moves along at a looping pace with Jason and Sage becoming friends. She soothes him in ways he didn’t expect and Sage is attracted to him in ways she also didn’t expect. Sage holds his secret close to her heart, but when he might lose his job, she does the one thing she doesn’t want to do.
Jason learns to grow. He starts to suspect some things when suddenly there is a dog thrust upon him, but everything is finally coming to be how he hopes. He’s more at ease, learning to love and doing a job that is rewarding.
The two fall way to fast and easily in love. That is my one complaint. Jason is always with her every chance he gets and Sage thinks of him every time he’s not. They fall into bed, texting, dating and more without much of a bump on the road. So when the big conflict comes around, it feels silly how upset he gets knowing she loved him in ways he could only dream about. This does have love scenes, but also it is kind of sickeningly sweet. Sorry, it just got flirty, dirty and sweet all at once.
As it is Christmas time, this flows through the holiday season with events and gifts. Sometimes we need these kind of uplifting holiday tales. Just to remember what is most important to us and what can be taken away from the ones we love who also serve our country. PTSD is real and I loved that the author didn’t just sweep his condition under the rug with love. Nope, she calmed him, but he didn’t just all get better. This something that will continue through life and I loved she made that clear.
A moving story of love, moving on, learning to accept help and learning not to be a doormat for your best friend. It all made a pretty decent story!
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