Genres: Contemporary Romance
Published by Berkley
Released on October 6, 2015
Ah, guilt can really do a number on a guy especially when he is a tender-hearted, responsible, hard-working Georgia cowboy. He really needed the sassy Jersey girl reporter who came along wanting a story about his horses and in the meantime found a whole lot more than she was looking for in small town Chatham Ridge, the Southern Belles Book Club, Aunt Barbara Jean, and a stubborn hurting man.
This gentle, heartwarming story just hit the spot right at the moment I needed something easy going. I’ve enjoyed this author’s books before. She has a knack for mixing light-hearted secondary characters, warm scenes, and characters who need to heal.
This is the first book in the series, but I was introduced to it previously in a crossover novella in the anthology that came out just prior. I love small town romance so it was an easy grab.
The story opens with Elizabeth Palmer arriving in Chatham Ridge to do a story for a magazine on the recent success of a local quarter horse ranch. It is her first writing job and she is a nervous wreck about succeeding after she chucked her accounting job to follow her dream. This is her first time doing something daring. Her mother was always a dreamer and one to chase such things and Elizabeth paid the price when there was never any stability in her life. Determined never to be like her mother, nonetheless, she was stifling in her old job and feeling a bit bruised when her ex left her for the gal upstairs in their apartment building. The change of scenery and new chance comes with her first encounter with Hunter McCoy. Her prospects aren’t looking good when he announces that he has no intention of doing the interview and it was his aunt who set it up. He has a horse ranch to run and wants no reporter tagging along at his heels.
Hunter has been hurting and heartbroken for the last two years. His fiancée is dead and it was his fault. Her angry, hurting father doesn’t blame him more than he blames himself. Now, all he lives for is his horses and his ranch. His dad’s gambling habits almost ruined it all, but Hunter is determined to bring it back to its former glory. What he doesn’t need is some bubbly, sassy woman from Jersey making him feel things he doesn’t want to feel. She may only be there to do a piece on the ranch, but she sees more than she should. He is torn between wanting her around for the light and laughter she brings to his life and getting rid of her before she gets past his emotional guard.
In the meantime, Hunter’s sister, Amberlee, works to prove to everyone that she is quite grown up, his Aunt Barbara Jean has a chance at a late romance if she has the courage to go for it, and Elizabeth learns from the McCoys and the ladies of the Southern Belle Book Club what home and family really mean.
As I said, this was a gently-paced story. The plot isn’t deep or tangly, but the conflict is there for two people who are trapped by their separate pasts. The pace was slow, but not boring. I loved all the additional details about the ranch, the daily life of the McCoys, and the fun inclusion of the book club ladies. The atmosphere is downhome cozy.
The characters were developed and had a strong backstory that played a part in the present. It is obvious to the reader what the real barriers are, but the hero and heroine are mired in their issues and struggle. Hunter is a good guy buried under pain and guilt which makes him cranky whenever anyone threatens to break through the wall he has put up. Elizabeth is a nice gal who is very busy trying to deny part of who she is out of fear that she will become her mother. I enjoyed seeing them grow internally away from their issues while building a tentative relationship.
[quote]”..You’ll meet the girls, you’ll have fun, you’ll get away from Mr. Grumpyface-“
The backdoor opened and Hunter walked in, as if conjured up merely by the conversation. He doffed his hat and cast an amused glace at his sister. “Did you just call me Grumpyface?”
“You’re my brother. I can call you anything I want…And if you don’t start being nice to Elizabeth here,” Amberlee said, “I’m going to call you far worse things.”
“You have been talking to our aunt. And she has been filling your head with all kinds of nonsense. I’m nice to Miz Palmer, aren’t I?” He raised his gaze to Elizabeth’s.
It was as if someone turned on an electric generator. When the two of them looked at each other, there was a hum in the air…
- 113-114 Amberlee, Hunter, and Elizabeth from When Somebody Loves You[/quote]
As to the romance, this was oh so carefully progressed forward as they first became friendly and started to open up and trust. They had the heat of attraction there all along that they denied and gave into in turn. I confess to getting a little impatient with the back and forth, but it made sense for what was going on with them personally. The expiration date on Elizabeth’s stay is what finally forces the issue for the pair of them.
I loved the setting. I had no idea there were quarter horse breeding and training centers in Georgia since I always pictured that breed as a western ranch horse. But hey, why not. I’ve always enjoyed stories involving horses and those who handle them.
The kitchen at that ranch with Aunt Barbara Jean’s cooking was my favorite place in the book, but the cozy reading area at Noralee’s bookshop ran it a close second. I really want some of her cheesy jalapeno corn bread and chili and I wouldn’t say no to her other dishes, either. There is food on every other page of this one between Barbara Jean and Noralee down at the bookstore with her baked goods.
Had to slip this one in:
[quote]Charlotte sat back in her seat. “Well damn. I really thought we had something juicy to discuss tonight.”
“We do. Their called books.” Suzie held one aloft, a romance novel featuring a bare-chested man wearing dog tags. “We can talk about men afterward. Books before brawn, remember?”
Amberlee sighed. “One of these days we’ll have the books with the brawn.”
“Sexy men to read to us. Now that’s a club I’ll join!” Charlotte laughed.
“That, my dear, would be a whole other kind of bookstore.” Noralee laid the last platter of desserts on the table and took the lone empty seat. “So shall we get started?”
- 126 Charlotte, Suzie, Amberlee, and Noralee of When Somebody Loves You[/quote]
All in all, this was a cozy, satisfying contemporary romance. I look forward to visiting with the Southern Belles Book Club girls again and again. Those who like slightly spice small town romance should give this one a try.
In honor of all the foods presented in this one, I decided to look up a recipe for Cheddar Jalapeno Cornbread. I found one courtesy of Ina Garten on The Barefoot Contessa FoodNetwork Show. Here’s the link if you would like to check it out: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/jalapeno-cheddar-cornbread-recipe.html
Romance Roundabout #327 CR
New to Me #158 series
Cliché Klatch #197 ‘move her boots in’
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