THE CHARMER IN CHAPS by Julia London 

The Princes of Texas, Book 1

From the publisher:

A Texas Prince Meets His Match…

Cimarron County knows the youngest son of the fabled Prince family as a womanizing hell-raiser, but Luca has changed and he intends to prove it. There’s just one problem—a woman with sparkling eyes and more fight than a barnyard cat.

After a childhood of living in foster homes, Ella Kendall has exactly three things to her name: A dog, a pig, and the rundown house she just inherited. Luca may not remember her from high school, but she definitely remembers him. He is as seductive as he was then, but Ella isn’t about to fall for his flirtingShe recognizes a playboy cowboy when she sees one.

Luca knows Ella has learned the hard way to trust no one but herself. Yet the closer he gets to Ella, the more he wants to be the only one she leans on. Because Ella is the only woman for him, and he wants to be the man who finally gives her the home she truly deserves.

https://amzn.to/3L5Qpnt

I do love cowboy romances, and this was a good one that I missed – it came out in 2019. Luca Prince is the second son of a family that owns one of the largest ranches in Texas, near San Antonio. Ella had a big crush on him in high school, but they ran in completely different circles. But at the high school dance, they danced together and he kissed her, and she never forgot. But he did.

Luca has been living the rich playboy life, partying all over the world, and dating supermodels, but never more than twice. His dyslexia causes his mother great disappointment, and instead of getting him help, he was shuffled from school to school with family donations getting him through school. He graduates pretty much illiterate, and very much embarrassed about it himself.

Ella has been in foster care for most of her life, and all she’s ever wanted is a home. When the grandmother she barely knew dies, she leaves her broken-down farmhouse to Ella. It comes with a few wild horses, a pig, and a dog, all of whom adopt Ella. She can barely feed herself but she shares what she can with her menagerie. She’s working part-time as a hostess in a restaurant in this small town and is trying to start up her own accounting business. She has a couple of clients but desperately needs more.

When Luca sees Ella, he is really drawn to her. She’s no supermodel hidden under a ton of makeup and hair extensions; instead, she is naturally pretty and that is very appealing. Ella knows she isn’t good enough for Luca, and she keeps her heart walled off for sure. But they start dating, even if she won’t call it that, and she falls really hard for him. Determined to keep her distance, she pushes him away as much as she can.

Luca inherited a couple of thousand acres of land that is all used up. His best friend is an environmental lawyer, and together they form a foundation to try and bring the land back to the way it was. Luca and Ella keep non-dating and sleeping together until her best friend (Stacy, of all the names in the world) gets into some trouble and Ella feels like she needs to help her.

This is a small-town romance with interesting characters who have a lot of baggage. It seems almost impossible for them to reach their happily ever after, but they do. This was a quick read with a few steamy scenes and lots of swoony romance, but with some emotional depth, too. Now I’m trying to find the next two books in this trilogy.

9/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE CHARMER IN CHAPS by Julia London. Berkley (May 7, 2019). ISBN:‎ 978-0451492357. 368p.

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