A COWBOY STATE OF MIND by Jennie Marts

June 27, 2021

A Single Dad, a Woman Grieving, and a Beautiful Contemporary Western Romance

Creedence Horse Rescue, Book 1

From the publisher:

A brand-new series of sweet, small town cowboy romance from USA Today bestselling author Jennie Marts. The Horse Whisperer meets Hope Floats when bubbly Bryn Callahan and brooding Zane Taylor protect an unwanted horse and end up with an animal rescue operation that they can only handle when they rely on each other.

Scarred and battered loner Zane Taylor has a gift with animals, particularly horses, but he’s at a total loss when it comes to knowing how to handle women. Even though he’s sworn off love, he can’t seem to stay away from Bryn Callahan. He’s known for being a horse whisperer, but can’t seem to find his voice at all where Bryn is concerned.

Bryn Callahan has a heart for strays, but she is through trying to save damaged men. She vows to only date nice guys, which is a category that does not include Zane Taylor. Too bad he’s the only one who sets her pulse racing every time she’s around him.

Starting a horse rescue ranch wasn’t in Bryn’s plan, but try telling that to the assembly of abandoned animals that have found their way to her doorstep. And when a chance encounter with a horse headed for slaughter brings Zane and Bryn together, they find themselves given a chance to save not just the horse, but maybe each other…


I recently read the second book in this series, (When A Cowboy Loves a Woman) and I liked it so much that I sought out this one, the first. And I think this was even better!

Zane is so damaged that Bryn is warned off him repeatedly, but she is a compassionate woman, and she sees the good in him, plus they have chemistry that burns. The heart wants what the heart wants, and even though on paper the local vet is a better choice for her, they have no spark at all.

Bryn is a waitress in this small town, but she lives on the ranch she inherited from her grandpa. So when she sees an obviously abused horse in a trailer outside the diner, she wants to rescue it from the cowboys who tell her the horse is headed for the glue factory (if there was such a place.) Zane comes to the rescue by leaving her a $100 tip so she can buy the animal, then he helps her get it home and take care of it. As soon as word gets out about the rescue, they are sent on a hunt for another abused, abandoned horse which they also bring back to the ranch. Pretty soon the menagerie includes a hog that was a household pet as it was sold to them as a potbellied pig. Then a pair of lovebirds make their way into the house, and an abandoned pregnant dog who soon gives birth to a bunch of puppies. Bryn can’t really afford to feed and care for all these animals, but she has friends in this small town. Soon there are collection jars all over town and a webpage with crowdsourcing funding and the money is pouring in.

Meanwhile Zane is pushing her away as she burrows under his skin. He knows he is wrong for her despite his heart telling him otherwise. He has been abused all his life by his father after being told he killed his mother during childbirth. The man has issues, not to mention some nasty scarring from the abuse he suffered. But Bryn is determined to get her man, despite all the roadblocks he is constantly putting up.

I really loved that this cowboy was a sort of “horse whisperer;” it seems like so many cowboy romances gloss over what cowboys do and I liked that there was some focus on that here. There are some really funny moments and I cried a time or two as well, so it is safe to say that this is a very emotional read, and really good romance. I can’t wait for the next book in this series, but while I’m waiting, Marts has a couple of other series I will be looking for.

6/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

A COWBOY STATE OF MIND by Jennie Marts. Sourcebooks Casablanca (June 30, 2020). ISBN: 978-1492689119. 416 pages.

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WHEN A COWBOY LOVES A WOMAN by Jennie Marts

June 19, 2021

A Single Dad, a Woman Grieving, and a Beautiful Contemporary Western Romance

Creedence Horse Rescue, Book 2

From the publisher:

“I don’t think I could stay away from you if I tried.”
He shook his head.
“And I have been trying. I told myself not to go to your house tonight.
I ordered my hand not to hold yours.
But apparently I can’t control myself when it comes to you, Elle Brooks.”

When a kitchen fire forces young widow Elle Brooks to move in with her friend Bryn and her motley collection of rescue animals, she doesn’t foresee ending up in the muscled arms of handsome cowboy and veterinarian Brody Tate. Spending time with the hunky cowboy and his adorable young daughter as they rehabilitate rescued horses reminds Elle of all she lost in a car crash years ago.

Brody is devoted to being a good dad for his spirited daughter. He hasn’t let romance even enter his head. But now he’s met Elle. Spending time with her is shaking up the calm he’s worked so hard to achieve, and he can’t seem to get this woman off his mind.


This author was new to me and as usual, I missed the first book in this series. But this book stood alone beautifully; I wouldn’t have known I missed anything.

Brody is a vet and a volunteer fireman, not to mention a widower for several years and the dad of a sweet young daughter. He’s visiting a friend when he spots a fire across the street. He saves Bryn from her kitchen fire, and their attraction is palpable. Bryn is a young widow, and neither of them are looking for a relationship, but the attraction is too big to deny.

In addition to being a vet, Brody also runs an animal rehab. (I think he may walk on water in his spare time.) I couldn’t help rooting for this couple to get past all their hurdles and get together. This is a sweet romance, not as sad as it may sound being they both lost their spouses. There is some humor as well. All in all, this book was a good read, good enough for me to go find the first book in the series, A Cowboy State of Mind. I found the ebook on Hoopla, courtesy of my library.

If you like cowboys and animals as much as I do, you will enjoy this romance!

6/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

WHEN A COWBOY LOVES A WOMAN by Jennie Marts. Sourcebooks Casablanca (March 30, 2021) Amara (March 9, 2021). ISBN: 978-1492689140. 336 pages.

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WISHING FOR A COWBOY by Victoria James

June 7, 2021

Wishing River, Book 3

From the publisher:

From New York Times bestselling author Victoria James comes a heartwarming love story about family, forgiveness, and the true meaning of “home.”

Janie Adams has been a single parent to her nephew since he was a baby. Fifteen years later, she’s finally found out who his father might be, so the two of them travel across the country to find him. She’d do anything for this kid. But when they arrive in the small town of Wishing River, Montana, and Janie finally meets the ruggedly handsome cowboy she’d been told had abandoned his son, his shocked response changes everything.

Aiden Rivers can’t dispute this is his kid when he sees his own features staring back at him, but he had no idea Janie’s sister was pregnant when she left him. He didn’t even know she had a sister―clearly they’d all been lied to. Now he has fifteen years of fatherhood to make up for and no idea how to be a dad. This was never in his plans.

Janie sticks around to help him ease into parenting, everything from showing him how to lure a sulky kid out of his bedroom to keeping up with the latest teen-speak. Together, they surprisingly make a good team, this city girl and country boy. But when the past catches up with them, Aiden and Janie must decide what’s best for the boy who’s connecting them, not only for each other…which could mean splitting them apart.

Each book in the Wishing River series is STANDALONE:
* The Trouble with Cowboys
* Cowboy for Hire
* Wishing For A Cowboy


I love a good cowboy romance, and James’s latest entry into her series is a really good one. Janie has raised her sister’s son as if he was her own. Her sister is bad news, and has only appeared sporadically since his birth. But Janie gives up everything to take care of him, so when she runs out of money, she knows she has to do something. She tracks down the father and shows up on his ranch.

Aiden remembers Janie’s sister, and also remembers what a flake she was. But he is still shocked to find out he has a teenage son. Determined to do right by him, and his guardian, Aiden takes them in and starts getting to know them both. Janie is beyond happy that he is willing to acknowledge his son.

While they get to know one another, Janie and Aiden fall in love. There are a bunch of obstacles to get around, including her sister showing up and deciding to “take back” her ex. It’s a mess but everyone gets what they deserve in the end. Another excellent addition to the series.

6/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

WISHING FOR A COWBOY by Victoria James. Entangled: Amara (March 9, 2021). ISBN: 978-1682815670. 364 pages.

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THE BEST COWBOY CHRISTMAS EVER by June Faver

December 7, 2020

The Best Cowboy Christmas Ever, Book 1

From the publisher:

Enjoy a down-home Texas cowboy Christmas!

When handsome town sheriff Derrick Shelton meets Angelique Guillory and her young daughter at the Garrett ranch, he is immediately drawn to the woman who seems to desperately need a true family Christmas. Determined to erase the shadows from her eyes, he decides to give her the best holiday she’s ever had.

Angelique Guillory is a woman with a past, haunted by violence and searching for the family she never knew. When she and her little daughter find their way to the Garrett family and meet Derrick, she hopes to have finally found a safe haven.

But Angelique is still looking over her shoulder. Despite her doubts, with a little Christmas magic and the warmth of the Garretts, Angelique may find more love and acceptance than she ever thought possible.

Also by June Faver, the Dark Horse Cowboys series:
Do or Die Cowboy (Book 1)
Hot Target Cowboy (Book 2)
When to Call a Cowboy (Book 3)
Cowboy Christmas Gold (Book 4)


This is only my second read by this author and I’m not sure why. I really liked the first book I read back in 2018. At least this is the first book of a new series so I can feel good about that. Cowboys and Christmas in one book put this on my must-read list. This was a good story, but it definitely had some issues. To be honest, there are enough holes in this story to drive a truck through. That said, the characters were well developed and I liked most of them. 

Angelique only learns who her father is as her mother is dying. She also lost her husband, whose father is some sort of New Orleans Mafia chief who decides he is going to raise his grandchild himself. She takes off with the kid and escapes to this small town to meet her long lost father. Here come the holes…

She meets the sheriff on her way into town and apparently, it is love at first sight. She shows up at the Garrett ranch, a very rich homestead, and her father just accepts her word that she is the daughter he never knew about. No DNA test required. Her new half-siblings aren’t as gullible and tend to make her life miserable until they figure out all she really wants from them is family. And a place to live. And a job. And babysitting. And you get the idea.

I liked this book well enough to read the next one in the series. I understand it is sometimes difficult to introduce a bunch of new characters and situations but there is a better way than this.

12/2020 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE BEST COWBOY CHRISTMAS EVER by June Faver. Sourcebooks Casablanca (September 29, 2020). ISBN 978-1728214511. 352p.

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IF THE BOOT FITS by Rebekah Weatherspoon

November 17, 2020

IF THE BOOT FITS by Rebekah Weatherspoon. Dafina (October 27, 2020). ISBN 978-1496725417. 288 pages.

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WAITING ON A COWBOY by Jennifer Ryan

November 8, 2020

McGrath Series, Book 1

 

From the publisher:

Meet New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Ryan’s McGraths: a family as untamed as the land they call home. 

Tate McGrath just didn’t get it. Why was Liz Scott, his best friend—and the person he relied on and trusted most—suddenly avoiding him! When he finally tracks her down, he finds her with a man he knows nothing about and she’s been dating for weeks. Suddenly, he can’t make himself ignore her tempting curves and deep green eyes, and all he wants to do is keep her all to himself. What was going on? Could he possibly be…jealous

Liz had made the decision: stop carrying a torch for Tate and find a guy who wants to be her everything. Tate had always seen her as honest, dependable, smart, kind…Best friend, not girlfriend! And she needed to give up the dream of marrying the man she’d loved since preschool and move on. 

But when Liz’s boyfriend turns dangerous, Tate steps up to help and soon realizes he’s the cowboy hero she’s been waiting for him to be all along. 


Ryan writes some of the best cowboy romances, so I was very happy to see a new series in the works. Look at me, starting with the first book! There is some connection to her Wild Rose series, but you don’t have to have read that series to enjoy this book. It is a really good series though!

This story revolves around lifelong friends Liz and Tate. Liz knew she was in love with Tate when she was pretty young, but Tate is a player who has kept Liz firmly in the friend zone. She finally decides to give up and see who else is out there for her.

Liz meets Clint, who seems like a really good guy and she is determined to try and make the relationship work. But fairly quickly his true colors start to show. He becomes abusive and controlling, and Liz is troubled.

Tate slowly realizes that he hasn’t seen Liz in a while. Then he hears she has a boyfriend but he knows nothing about it. They are best friends, and he can’t figure out why Liz is avoiding him. But when Tate sees what’s going on with Clint, it is the wake up call he needed. His protective side rears up, and he starts to realize that he is also feeling jealous. He eventually figures out that Liz is the love of his life. 

Meanwhile, there is a lot of suspense and tension around Clint and his stalker tendencies, which helped make the pages fly by. I really liked how serious problems are addressed here, but no worries, the happily ever after is guaranteed. A great start to a new series!

Just a personal note: I actually read this book back in the summer. Right now I have a list of about 15 books I’ve read that need reviewing. If you didn’t notice, great, but I was having a hard time updating my website for a month or two. Not for any real reason other than the stress of life. I was also having a hard time reading, I couldn’t focus. 2020 can’t be over soon enough for me. So thanks for sticking around anyway, and lots more reviews to come.

11/2020 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

TOUGH TALKING COWBOY by Jennifer Ryan. Avon (August 18, 2020). ISBN 978-0062851932. 384p.

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A COWBOY FOR KEEPS by Laura Drake

August 18, 2020

CLICK TO PURCHASE

Chestnut Creek, Book 3

From the publisher:

From a “fabulous new voice in romantic fiction” (NYT bestselling author Lael Miller): an arrogant cowboy meets a headstrong woman determined to take custody of his niece, only to realize that she may be the family he was always searching for.
There’s not much that could rattle a cowboy like Reese St. James. But when his twin brother dies in a car accident, Reese is stunned to discover he has a six-month old niece, Sawyer. Wanting to make up for lost time, Reese heads down to Unforgiven, New Mexico, to bring her home. He doesn’t plan on Sawyer’s guardian giving him any trouble, but the intriguing, independent woman is turning out to be more than he bargained for.
Lorelei West had given up hope of having a family of her own until her sister’s tragic death brought little Sawyer into her life. And now there’s no way she’s going to let Reese take her away. Lorelei knows hotshot, good-looking cowboys like him — she’s dated enough of them — and she intends to stand her ground. Yet the more time Reese and Lorelei spend together, the harder it is to deny the attraction building between them. But opening their hearts to a baby is one thing — can they also open their hearts to the possibility of a happily-ever-after?

Lorelai is poor as dirt but determined to take of herself, her grandmother, and the ramshackle house they live in. At one time her family owned all the acreage around the house but it was sold off years earlier. Then Lorelai gets some devastating news. Her twin sister has been in a fatal car accident. The only survivor is her baby because she was with the babysitter at the time.

Lorelai didn’t even know her sister had a baby, but she is determined to bring her home and with the help of the social worker in the hospital, she gets Sawyer. Her sister was with a rodeo cowboy and he died as well. Shortly after she leaves, the cowboy’s brother shows up. He didn’t know about the baby either, but he has no other family and he wants her to grow up on the ranch he still lives on.

Reese is not your typical cowboy. For one thing, he owns the ranch and deals more with banking that cattle. He can afford to give that little baby anything and everything, but he quickly realizes that Lorelai isn’t going to be bought.

It takes a lot of time and patience for Reese to break through Lorelai’s walls, and it takes her a lot of time before she decides she can trust Reese. Then it takes a while longer for them to realize they are in love.

This was a good story with lots of drama and the socioeconomic class differences between them was stark. But I couldn’t help hoping that Lorelai would bend just the littlest bit before Reese ran out of patience so they could have their happy ending. And they did.

8/2020 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

A COWBOY FOR KEEPS by Laura Drake. Forever (July 28, 2020). ISBN 978-1538746479. 352pages.

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FIRST KISS WITH A COWBOY by Sara Richardson

July 12, 2020

CLICK TO PURCHASE

Silverado Lake, Book 1

From the publisher:

In national bestselling author Sara Richardson’s first book in the Silverado Lake series, “the pace is fast, the setting’s charming, and the love scenes are delicious” when a risk-taking cowboy convinces a no-nonsense writer to give him a second chance (Publishers Weekly, Starred Review) — includes a bonus story by AJ Pine!
Shy and sensible romance writer Jane Harding’s carefully ordered life is crumbling around her. With her latest novel due and her teaching contract at an end, returning home to help plan her best friend’s wedding is a welcome distraction. Yet when Jane discovers that the too-hot-to-handle boy who once tempted her is now the best man — and the rodeo circuit’s sexiest bull rider — her distraction is in danger of becoming a disaster . . .
Toby Garrett is no stranger to risk. But this latest injury could end his rodeo career for good. Thankfully, his recovery at home isn’t as awful as he’d imagined, especially when he comes face-to-face with Jane. The kiss they once shared still fuels his fantasies, but when she walked away, he let her go. Now Toby is determined to fix his mistakes. Can this sweet-talking cowboy prove that the passion still burning between them is worth braving the odds?

Toby and Jane shared a kiss back in high school, but he was off to join the rodeo, and she was off to college. Unbeknownst to her hometown, Jane has become a romance novelist under a pseudonym. Like many writers, she also has another job as a teacher. But when her contract is up, she heads home to figure out her next move. Her best friend is getting married, and that will keep her busy for a while. But then she finds out Toby is the best man and things start changing.

Unrequited young love is a favorite trope of the romance genre, although it’s not necessarily my favorite. But Richardson does a really good job here, and this was a fun, sexy read. I’m looking forward to the next book in the series.

NOTE:  On the cover of this book it says “includes a bonus story by AJ Pine.” I read the digital galley supplied by the publisher and the bonus story was not included. I cannot comment on that except to say I really like AJ Pine’s books.

5/2020 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

FIRST KISS WITH A COWBOY by Sara Richardson.  Forever (May 19, 2020). ISBN 978-1538717158. 432p.

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MY KIND OF COWBOY by R.C. Ryan

May 29, 2020

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Wranglers of Wyoming Series, Book 1

From the publisher:

This New York Times bestselling author delivers a “page-turning romance” (Nora Roberts) about a city girl on the run and the strong, protective cowboy who keeps her safe.

Brand Merrick is a take-charge cowboy who considers relax a four-letter word. So when an injury lands him six weeks of physical therapy, he intends to keep right on working-until his grandmother hires a therapist to stay at their family ranch. He’s not used to following orders, or slowing down, but Avery Grant has a way of getting him to do things he’d never thought he’d do . . .

Avery hates to admit it, but this super sexy rancher is testing her patience…and her professionalism. She’s a born-and-bred city girl, yet she finds herself drawn to the rugged wilderness and the equally rugged cowboy she’s here to help. But when a threat from her past follows Avery to Montana, it’s Brand who rides to the rescue-if only she’ll put her trust in him, and the growing feelings in her heart.


I still feel somewhat new to the whole cowboy romance genre as I’ve only been reading them for a couple of years. But even I know that the physical therapist is a common trope and one that I like.

Brand is deeply unhappy since he got hurt. He doesn’t talk unless you count grunting at his family when absolutely necessary. No one has seen him smile for a while. So when his mother hires a physical therapist to come stay at the ranch and work with him, he is determined to chase the guy off quickly. But to everyone’s surprise, Avery turns out to be a woman.

Three generations share this large house and work the enormous ranch. Avery quickly realizes she is not going to have it easy, but she manages to figure out a way to help Brand despite his best efforts to thwart her. Of course the fact that he is attracted to her helps a bit!

Not everything is paradise though. Avery has been having an issue with someone who appears to be threatening her. She had a few incidents at home before she came to the ranch, but once there she starts getting threatening texts from an unknown number. That adds another layer to this story.

Once his family sees how much Brand has improved, both physically and emotionally, they are all on board with Avery. And Avery and Brand get their happily ever after. A very enjoyable read.

NOTE: This book is billed as “Two full books for the price of one.” I read the digital galley supplied by the publisher and I did not have two novels, just the one story. So I cannot comment on whatever else is supposed to be included, which according to the cover is “a  bonus novel by Carolyn Brown.”

5/2020 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

MY KIND OF COWBOY by R.C. Ryan. Forever (April 28, 2020). ISBN 978-1538716847. 656p.

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TOUGH TALKING COWBOY by Jennifer Ryan

April 7, 2020

CLICK TO PURCHASE

Wild Rose Series, Book 3

From the publisher:

Return to Montana as a tough-talking cowboy meets his match in Jennifer Ryan’s newest Wild Rose Ranch novel.

Ex-Army Ranger Drake McGrath has come home to Montana, locked in a battle with himself, lashing out at those who love him most—driving away his ex-fiancée and alienating his family. But Adria Holloway sees beyond Drake’s tough talk to the raw pain beneath.

Raised with her twin sister Juliana by a neglectful mother at the Wild Rose Ranch, Adria also struggles to put the trauma from her past behind her. To help them both, she makes Drake a shocking deal—a no-strings relationship that’ll help them both face down their demons. Maybe it’s a way for her and Drake to heal each other, one sizzling night at a time…

The heat between them is instant and incredible. But the biggest challenges are yet to come. With Juliana battling her addiction and Drake working on his issues, Adria realizes she can’t save everyone. But Drake and Adria discover love can survive tragedy and loss—and they can have the life they never thought possible if they just hold on.


This is the third book in a series that has turned into one of my favorites, and this may be the best book yet.

Drake is a veteran suffering from physical ailments after being shot up while overseas. He is also suffering from PTSD, has hallucinations, paranoia, you name it. And need I say he is not exactly a joy to be around? Luckily, his brothers love him and are putting up with his grunting instead of talking, and his hair-trigger temper.

Adria also has survived trauma and recognizes that bit of herself in Drake. They have an immediate connection and decide on a relationship that will help them overcome their issues in the bedroom, but with no strings. As if. Adria is also dealing with her identical twin sister, who she gets into rehab after she almost dies. Drake is a good distraction from worrying about her sister.

All these characters need to overcome a lot and the struggle is real – or at least, it feels real. This was a very layered story and one that will be staying with me for a long time. Highly recommended.

4/2020 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

TOUGH TALKING COWBOY by Jennifer Ryan. Avon (March 31, 2020). ISBN 978-0062851925. 400p.

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