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 flirting. She 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.
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.
Sometimes you find what you need in the most unlikely places…
Charlie Ryan’s cheating fiancé left her with a broken heart and even broker bank account. She’s hit rock bottom, but everything is about to change. Suddenly, she’s inherited a Montana farm named Tucked Away from a grandmother she never knew existed. A fresh start is just what she needs – and no men in her future this time, even if the local vet is as hot as a Montana summer.
Zack Cooper is content with his simple life. Running his veterinary practice and raising his daughter are enough to keep him busy, and he doesn’t need a high-maintenance city girl like his ex who plans to sell her grandma’s ranch and split faster than a setting sun. So why can’t he stop thinking about Charlie and her hot-pink cowboy boots…and the way her eyes say she wants to stay while her lips tease him with plans of leaving?
Just when both start to believe love might be worth the risk…one night will change everything.
My love affair with Jennie Marts continues with a new-to-me-but-older series, The Hearts of Montana. I found this on Hoopla through my library. Marts has written several series and I’m working my way through them. For a change, I’m starting this series with the first book!
Charlie was brought up by a single mother in New York City. When she catches her boyfriend cheating, she dumps him and crawls home to her mom. Then she finds out she has inherited a farm in Montana from a grandmother she never knew existed. Ready for a change, she rents a car and hits the road.
Her first inkling that she’s no longer in New York City is when her driveway is blocked by an enormous bull, intent on goring her car. Trapped, she is grateful when a cowboy stops and gets the bull out of the way. Her high heels and silk blouse give her away as a newcomer to Montana, but she quickly acclimates to the old farmhouse she’s inherited and the sexy cowboy who’s working there. Cash is a big flirt, but Charlie isn’t going for it. Instead, she runs into the town veterinarian (and single dad,) and finds a serious spark. Turns out every unattached woman in town has her eye on the hunky vet, but he only has eyes for Charlie.
This is a small town romance with a hot cowboy, always a good combination! Charlie acclimated much more quickly to the small town than I certainly would have expected, but I went along for the ride and it was sexy, funny, and heartwarming. (I would read the rest of this series, but it’s not available through my library or Kindle Unlimited.)
The Hearts of Montana series This western romance series is about three tough but tender cowboys who find love under the big Montana sky. 1 – Tucked Away (Zack & Charlie) 2 – Hidden Away (Taylor & Cherry) 3 – Stolen Away (Cash & Emma)
Mason James is the responsible one who stayed behind to run the ranch while his brother, Rock, took off to play professional hockey. Women have used him before to get to his brother―and Mason intends never to get burned again. But after he meets quirky Tessa Kane at his brother’s wedding, Mason discovers he’s ready to take a chance on love.
Tessa Kane is a reporter on the verge of losing a job she desperately needs―unless she’s clever enough to snag a story on the famous Rockford James. But when she falls for her subject’s brother, she’s caught between a rock and a hard-muscled cowboy. What will happen when Mason finds out who she really is?
Cowboys of Creedence Series: Caught Up in a Cowboy (Book 1) You Had Me at Cowboy (Book 2) It Started With a Cowboy (Book 3)
This is such an enjoyable series, especially if you like cowboy romance as much as I do. These books are set in Creedence, Colorado, outside of Denver. Creedence is a small, ranching town and I like small town romances, too, so these books are a win-win for me.
Mason is the middle brother and the one that stepped up to run the ranch when his older brother, Rock, followed his love of hockey to the NHL. Rock is home now and getting ready to marry his childhood sweetheart, Quinn, and their romance was in the first book of this series. Even though these books do stand alone, I think this series may be best read in order.
Mason has been burned more than once by women who pretended to be interested in him to get to his older, celebrity hockey player brother. But this whole week of wedding fun is becoming painful for him as he feels like everyone is pitying him for being alone, not to mention pointing it out to him. So not fun. So when he has to go to the supply closet at the welcome dinner, he gets quite an eyeful. Tessa is in there trying to button a clean shirt that isn’t quite fitting across her chest. Mason gets an eyeful and she is embarrassed, but being the nice guy he is, he gets her a shirt that will button. Their chemistry is palpable, and when she tells him she was invited to this dinner by a blind date who has stood her up, he asks her to be his date – for all the wedding festivities.
Tessa has had the day from hell. She just found out her grandmother who raised her after her parents were killed in an accident has fallen for the Nigerian prince scam and is flat broke. That prince hacked into her bank accounts and wiped her out, and now their home is in foreclosure. She’s a writer for a Denver magazine, and her boss just fired her unless she can get him all the dirt on the quickie wedding she’s now attending. She reluctantly agrees.
The more time they spend together, the more they fall in love. Tessa’s guilt is eating at her, and Mason can’t quite believe his feelings. But when he finds out she is a reporter, all hell breaks loose. No worries, they find their happy ending but so much angst before they get there! These were wonderful characters and I loved their story. Can’t wait to get into the next book!
8/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch
YOU HAD ME AT COWBOY by Jennie Marts. Sourcebooks Casablanca (November 27, 2018). ISBN: 978-1492655725. 352p.
This Cowboy Turned Hockey Player Needs to Bring His Game to Win Back the Heart of His High School Sweetheart
Welcome to Creedence, Colorado―where the gossip flows, the chicken is fried, and the cowboys are hotter than a Colorado chili pepper.How do you heal a broken heart?
I play to win…
Raised as a tried-and-true cowboy in a town obsessed with hockey, I’ve always been competitive, whether on a horse or on the ice. I thought my cowboy days were over when the NHL snapped me up, but now injuries have me heading home with a bruised ego to match the damage to my body.
One problem―when I joined the NHL, I left my high school sweetheart behind with a broken heart and not much else. Now, when I finally “cowboy up” and go to ask for a second chance, I’m shocked as hell to find her with a baby and no man around. She thinks she can forget about what we had together, but I’m bound and determined to get her caught up in us once again.
I loved the Creedence Horse Rescue series so much that I went looking for more books by this author and found this series that precedes the one I just finished. Luckily, all the books stand alone so I’m good with that.
I was assigned a book to review for Library Journal, and I’m really not enjoying it so I read a few chapters, then put it down to read something I like. Like Jennie Marts. She is getting me through the book I have to read by giving me a break from it. When I was reviewing for Booklist, I liked that they don’t publish negative book reviews (for the most part) so if I got halfway through a book and didn’t like it enough to finish it, I could tell my editor that and get a different book to review. Library Journal doesn’t work that way; they want all the books reviewed, good or bad. Happily, this book I am reviewing for my blog is a good one!
So cowboys and NHL players? Yes, please! Rock grew up on his family’s ranch with his two brothers. They lost their father when they were pretty young, but his mom is a strong woman and she kept the ranch and family going strong. But Rock’s true love is hockey. And Quinn. They grew up together as best friends, then fell in love and were high school sweethearts. But when Rock left home for the NHL, he also left Quinn and broke her heart. He became known as a playboy and life was great, until he got a serious injury.
Rock is sent home to recuperate, and while he’s at home he sees Quinn again. He quickly realizes that he is still in love with her, but she wants nothing to do with him. Unfortunately, their families live on adjoining ranches and do a lot of work together, so they are constantly thrown together.
Quinn had a one night stand with a real jerk after Rock left, and she ended up pregnant. Luckily, her dad and brother stepped up and she has been raising Max for eight years on her family’s ranch. When Rock meets Max, he falls in love with the little guy, too. But how to get Quinn on board is the real dilemma here.
This is a sweet and occasionally sexy romance, and I loved these characters. My only complaint about this author is her endings always feel rather abrupt. I guess the idea is to leave the reader wanting more, and it works for sure! If you like cowboy romance or sports romance, this is a winner. Moving on to the next book in the series!
8/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch
CAUGHT UP IN A COWBOY by Jennie Marts. Sourcebooks Casablanca (May 1, 2018). ISBN: 978-1492655695. 352p.
For fans of Carolyn Brown, Maisey Yates, and Jennifer Ryan, this steamy, emotional cowboy romance has all your favorites:
A hunky single dad showing his daughter the ropes
A heroine looking for a fresh start
Leaning on each other through hard times
Rescue horses and ranch animals with lots of personality
How do you heal a broken heart?
After one injury too many, Cade Callahan gave up the rodeo for a simpler life working at his cousin’s horse rescue ranch. But his life turns upside down when his estranged daughter is placed in his custody after a tragic car accident. Wanting nothing to do with her father, thirteen-year-old Allie struggles to adjust to her new life.
Newly single and living out of her mother’s basement, physical therapist Nora Fisher doesn’t think twice about taking a job as a traveling therapist for Cade’s daughter. The trouble is, she doesn’t know anything about horses, or hunky cowboys. Now both in way over their heads, can Cade and Nora find a way to help Allie, and trust in the attraction building between them?
I’ve read three books in this series, but somehow missed this one. As soon as I realized that, I hustled over to the library (ok, to the library website!) and found this book on Hoopla. As I’ve pointed out in my reviews of the other books in the series, it is terrific and each book stands alone, so no worries if you can’t get them in order.
Cade chased his rodeo dreams for years until injuries finally forced him to retire. Meanwhile, he had a daughter. He was around for her first few years, but her mother pushed him away and they’ve been out of touch for years as Allie is now a teenager. When her mother dies, Cade is there for her but she doesn’t really want anything to do with him. Forced into the situation is a grieving teenager with a bad injury from the accident that killed her mother, and a whole lot of attitude.
Cade hires Nora Fisher, a physical therapist, to help his daughter. She recently quit her job and is available to move to the ranch to take care of Allie. The three of them grow close just by being in that proximity, but Cade quickly realizes his feelings for Nora go way beyond the professional relationship – and she feels the same. Meanwhile, Allie’s aunt is trying to get custody and of course, there is money involved from a life insurance policy.
This story was compelling between the budding romance and the father-daughter relationship. I liked it so much that I started looking at more Jennie Marts books and found another of her cowboy series that also features hockey players. It’s a win-win for me; reviews to follow.
8/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch
HOW TO COWBOY by Jennie Marts. Sourcebooks Casablanca (December 28, 2021). ISBN: 978-1492689706. 336p.
Fans of Carolyn Brown, Maisey Yates, and Jennifer Ryan will fall head over cowboy boots for this second-chance romance from USA Today bestseller Jennie Marts.
A heartwarming cowboy romance on the ranch…
This lighthearted second-chance romance is filled with:
An independent single mom who’d do anything for her son
The handsome Sheriff’s deputy who can’t stop thinking about her
The undeniable attraction between them
Characters who must learn to trust in love again
Rescue animals who deserve their own second chances
Single mom Jillian Bennett barely has a moment to herself between raising her ten-year old son, volunteering at the horse rescue ranch, and her new job as head librarian of Creedence, Colorado. She doesn’t have the time or inclination for romance, even though she and the cute deputy, Ethan Rayburn, have been doing a little flirting the last few weeks. Still, when Ethan puts out a call out to all the horse rescues to help with a large rescue operation, Jillian jumps in to help.
Ethan doesn’t consider himself the impulsive type, but there’s something about Jillian that calls to him. When he also forms a bond with her son, Milo, Ethan soon realizes that there isn’t anything he wouldn’t do for the feisty librarian who’s won his heart.
I read the first two books in this series (not in order, of course!) but somehow missed the third, which I will be rectifying shortly. I really like this series. The romances are sweet and not too sexy, the characters are interesting and I can’t help but root for them to find their happily ever after. And they do. Throw in animal rescue, in this case horses, and I’m a happy reader.
Jillian reminded me of my mom – single and putting her child first. She is not interested in dating at all, except Deputy Ethan is super hot and even better, super kind. He falls hard and fast for the fiery, gutsy mom but she remains cautious – for a little while, at least. But he is so good with her son that he quickly wins her over.
This was a fun read, but the animal abuse may be difficult for some readers, even though they are rescued. On the other hand, there are a pig, goat, and a miniature horse that absolutely steal the show! This was a quick read for me; I got totally involved with these characters and was so sorry to turn the last page. This is a terrific series, and the books each stand alone so no worries if you can’t get them in order.
8/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch
NEVER ENOUGH COWBOY by Jennie Marts. Sourcebooks Casablanca (July 26, 2022). ISBN: 978-1728226132. 336p.
At the ripe old age of twenty-eight, desperate-to-retire gunslinger Adam Brady has exactly two rules. And one of them is never, ever get married. So he’ll be danged when his dreams of permanently avoiding the bounty hunter on his tail in Desolation, the only town where notorious men like him can find respite, comes with one helluva string attached. The town has a new rule: gunslingers welcome―if they get a job…or marry.
Without realizing it, Adam stumbles into a big town wedding and accidentally marries Nora Schumacher, a sassy-mouthed mountain of a woman with legs as long as his wanted poster. So what’s a gunslinger to do but get himself unhitched and find a job. Any job. Except Adam keeps getting fired, one odd circumstance after another. And he’s running out of options.
Desolation was supposed to be his safe haven. Except, he’s not only running from his past but from the irresistible woman he married. And worse, he’s finding that he rather likes the enticing, if damnably independent, wife of his. But some men just aren’t the marrying kind. Only, if he leaves, his own life won’t be worth living. If he stays, he puts the lives of his newfound family and the woman he loves on the line. So much for Desolation being the answer to all his problems.
This is a very funny book that is sort of anomaly, at least in my reading experience; it’s an historical cowboy romance. All the other cowboy romances I’ve read are contemporary, featuring a lot of rodeo stars or ranch hands or ranch owners. This book is set in the Wild West, and features gunslingers, which you don’t hear much about anymore.
Adam is on the move, trying to escape his past. He’s quick with a gun, so successful at his past occupation, but he’s tired of it. All he wants to do is settle down somewhere and feel safe. When he stumbles into the small town of Desolation, he starts to think he found his place. Much to his surprise, the sheriff is a former gunslinger himself, and he has instituted some rules for the people in his town. They need to either be married or find a job within the first thirty days of arrival, or they need to go.
Adam doesn’t want a wife. He’s had some bad experiences and with the wanted posted hanging over his head, he doesn’t want to endanger any woman. But when he arrives in town, he finds himself in the midst of a crowd, and somehow he ends up married to Nora, the tall, good looking woman standing next to him. He refuses to sign the marriage certificate though, but the preacher says he’s married in the eyes of God, and isn’t sure how to go about ending things.
Nora needs a husband, although just temporarily. Ever since her mother passed away, her father has become a drunk. He takes all the money that Nora earns and drinks it away. He’s sold off part of the farm they live on, and she is afraid he will lose it all in a poker game or sell it off. She inherits the farm but not until she turns thirty, several years off, or gets married. Hence her need for a husband.
Meanwhile, Adam tries very hard to find a job. But the townspeople are all about helping Nora, so every job he gets turns into a disaster and that is the basis of all the humor in this book, and it’s pretty funny. But the more time he spends with Nora, the more his feelings for her grow stronger, and for her as well. But when his nemesis, a marshall, shows up, Adam knows he needs to get away but before he can, Nora is captured.
There is some suspense here, but mostly a lot of laughs and a bit of sex. This is a really fun read and a fast moving story. I did read the first book in the series, Hitched to the Gunslinger, but it is not necessary. These books stand alone and can be read in any order. I enjoyed them both, and hope another book is in the works.
7/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch
THE GUNSLINGER’S GUIDE TO AVOIDING MATRIMONY by Michelle McLean. Entangled: Amara (July 26, 2022). ISBN: 978-1649372123. 368p.
I started reading this series in the middle, as I often do, back in 2018. The first book I read was SURRENDER TO THE HIGHLANDER, and I wasn’t thrilled with it. I picked it up during a Droughtlander (the years between the books in Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series and/or the eponymous TV series.) But when the next book, THE HIGHLANDER’S PROMISE, came out, I read it and liked it a lot. I read the next couple, then somehow forgot about this series.
The most recent book is HIGHLAND WOLF, which I read a few weeks ago and really enjoyed. So I started looking around at the series and realized what I had done, reading those four books in the middle. I found the rest of the series through my library. I received egalleys, advanced review copies, from the publisher for the other books in the series that I read.
These books are historical romance but also romantic suspense. There is some element of danger in all of them, and there is graphic sex in all of them as well. Mostly the same sex scenes, in fact. Only the names are changed, or at least that’s how it appeared to me. I probably wouldn’t have noticed except I read five books over the past week, one after another, so it was quite obvious. There are some gruesome descriptions of torture and murder in some of the books as well, but not overly long and usually just once in each book, if that.
These do not have to be read in order. Like many romance series, each book centers on two characters, at least one of whom we have met or heard about in a previous book. So if you haven’t read the books in order, you may not get the reference but it makes no difference to the plot or understanding the characters, who are all well developed. The later books have a few more references to previous ones, but again, not that you’d notice if you haven’t read them. All that said, they are probably best read in order.
There aren’t a whole lot of historical references other than the fact that Edward III is on the British throne, which puts these books in the 1300’s, and the English and Scots hate each other. Oh, if you didn’t get it from the titles or the book covers, these are all Scottish romances set in the Highlands of Scotland, with occasional forays into England. Amazon calls them “Medieval romances” and I guess that’s true. I did learn a lot about how people lived in that time period: what they ate, how they dressed, how they shopped, their morals and beliefs, all of which I found fascinating.
I really enjoyed this series and I’m sorry I didn’t read them in order. But I am very glad I read them all. And I hope there are more books coming!
Finally, I wanted to add that I read the first four books on Hoopla, and book 9 on Cloud Library, apps that are available through libraries. If your library doesn’t offer these options, ask for them! I don’t love reading in these apps, it’s not nearly as seamless as my Kindle but it works and I read these all on my iPad. Hoopla offers ebooks, audiobooks, comics (graphic novels,) movies, TV series, and music; pretty much any kind of streaming material. Cloud Library has ebooks and streaming audiobooks. My library allows patrons to borrow twenty items per month from Hoopla and seven items from Cloud Library, but your mileage may vary. Oh, just FYI, Hoopla changes their content at their whim; libraries have no say in it beyond making suggestions. So just because I found all these books there now, they may not be there next month or next year. What I like best about Hoopla is that whatever they have is always available. If you are used to borrowing ebooks through Cloud Library or Overdrive, you know you have to reserve popular items and wait. That doesn’t happen on Hoopla – what you see is what you get. All of these books are also available as audiobooks.
From New York Times bestselling author of The Husband Hunt, The Heiress, and other beloved historical romances, comes Lynsay Sands’s An English Bride in Scotland, the first book in a new series set in the wilds of the Highlands.
Annabel had planned to become a nun. But when her mother arrives at the Abbey to bring her home to marry a Scottish laird—her runaway sister’s intended husband—her life takes a decidedly different turn.
And though Annabel isn’t the wife he’d planned for, strong, sexy Ross McKay is taken with his shy, sweet bride.
Annabel knows nothing about being a wife, running a castle—or the marriage bed. But her handsome new husband makes her want to learn. When Annabel’s life is threatened, Ross vows to move the highlands itself to save her and preserve the passion that’s only beginning to bloom.
New York Times bestselling author Lynsay Sands returns to the Highlands of Scotland in her hottest new historical romance yet!
Highlander Campbell Sinclair is no stranger to battle, so when he sees a lad attacked by bandits, he jumps into the fray. He didn’t count on being stabbed. Grateful to the boy for nursing him back to health, Cam offers to accompany Jo safely to his destination. But when he accidentally comes across the lad bathing in the river, Cam discovers that Jo is actually Joan . . . with the most sinful of curves.
Joan promised her mother that she would deliver a scroll to the clan MacKay. But traveling alone is dangerous, even disguised as a boy. When a Scottish warrior lends his aid, she is more than relieved . . . until he surprises her with lingering kisses and caresses that prove her disguise hasn’t fooled him. As their passion ignites, will the secrets of the scroll force a wedding . . . and lead to a love she’s never known?
A bold, seductive laird meets his passionate match in a scintillating Highland romance from New York Times bestselling author Lynsay Sands
Sword fighting, swearing, and riding astride come naturally to Saidh Buchanan. Simpering and holding her tongue— definitely not. Raised alongside seven boisterous brothers, Saidh has little interest in saddling herself with a husband . . . until she glimpses the new Laird MacDonnell bathing naked in the loch. Though she’s far from a proper lady, the brawny Highlander makes Saidh feel every inch a woman.
She has an angel’s looks, a warrior’s temper, and seeks out his kisses with wanton eagerness. Little wonder that Greer is intrigued by his comely guest. When reckless desire overtakes them, he’s more than willing to make an honest woman of her. But Saidh is the target of a hidden enemy, and Greer faces the battle of his life to safeguard the woman he wants above all others.
New York Times bestselling author Lynsay Sands welcomes readers back to the Scottish Highlands, where a gallant warrior vows to protect a beautiful runaway . . .
Lady Murine Carmichael has known her share of bad luck. But when her debt-ridden half brother tries to sell her off in exchange for a few Scottish horses, it’s the final straw. If keeping her freedom means escaping through harsh countryside alone, so be it. She has barely begun her journey when she lands an unlikely escort—the brawny Highlander who just refused to buy her virtue.
Dougall Buchanan was disgusted by Lord Danvries’ shameful offer, but Murine tempts him beyond measure. Even bedraggled and dusty, the lass glows with beauty and bravery. Dougall wants to do more than just help her flee. He wants to protect her—with his life and his heart—if she’ll only let him. For Murine may be pursued by a powerful foe, but nothing compares to the fiery courage of a Highlander in love.
In New York Times bestselling author Lynsay Sands’ captivating romance, a lass targeted by an unknown foe is saved—and seduced—by a bold Highlander
Edith Drummond owes her life to Niels Buchanan and his brothers. Waking after an illness to a castle overrun by rugged Highlanders is disconcerting, but so is learning that she’s slowly being poisoned. Niels insists on staying by her side, and Edith soon discovers that even more dangerous is her wild attraction to the fierce warrior.
Niels has never met a more courageous—or enticing—woman than Lady Edith. The idea of such a bonny lass being forced to enter a nunnery is more than any red-blooded Scotsman could bear. He’ll gladly marry her himself. But while sweeping her off her feet is easy, it’ll take all his skill to defeat her family’s relentless enemies, and convince her to surrender to his sweet embrace. . . .
In a spellbinding new Highlands story from New York Times bestselling author Lynsay Sands, the laird of the Buchanans finds the one woman who is his equal in passion and courage
Aulay Buchanan has retreated to his clan’s hunting lodge for a few days of relaxation. But the raven-haired beauty he pulls from the ocean puts an end to any chance of rest. Though he christens her Jetta, she knows nothing of her real identity, save that someone is trying to kill her. As she recovers, it will not be easy for Aulay to protect her and keep her honor intact when she mistakenly believes they are man and wife…
Jetta sees beyond Aulay’s scars to the brave, loyal warrior she’s proud to call her own. But as the attempts on her life grow more brazen, Jetta realizes that not all is as she believes. And if Aulay is not her husband, can she trust the desire flaring in his eyes, or his promise to defend her with his life?
A laird’s daughter kidnaps a Highlander—and loses her heart… in New York Times bestselling author Lynsay Sands’ new historical romance
Lady Evina Maclean has heard much about Rory Buchanan’s skill as a healer. What she hasn’t heard is how good the brawny Highlander looks bathing in a waterfall. But Evina can’t afford the distraction, for her ailing father urgently needs care. Only when she’s rendered Buchanan unconscious and dragged him back to her family’s castle does the truth emerge—it’s not Rory she’s kidnapped but his brother Conran.
Other ladies try to ensnare Conran with flattery. Evina hits him over the head with the hilt of her sword to save her kin—and Conran likes the spirited redhead all the more for it. He’s learned enough from his brother to heal Evina’s father, but there are other dangers swirling around the Maclean clan. And while the beautiful, independent lady has sworn not to marry, this wrong Highlander may be just the right man for her.
Four Buchanan brothers have found their brides…only three more to go in this scintillating romance from New York Times bestselling author Lynsay Sands…
Lady Dwyn Innes feels utterly out of place among the eligible women who’ve descended on Buchanan Keep, vying for the attention of the last unmarried brothers. She isn’t long-legged and slender like her sisters, or flirtatious and wily like other lasses. Since her betrothed died, Dwyn has resigned herself to becoming an old maid. Yet a chance encounter with a stranger in the orchard awakens her to a new world of sensation and possibility…
After weeks away, Geordie Buchanan returns to find his home swarming with potential brides, thanks to his loving but interfering family. But one lass in particular draws his attention from the moment he spies her climbing a tree. Lady Dwyn is not nearly as plain as she thinks. Her lush figure and eager kisses delight him, as does her honesty. But the real test lies ahead: eliminating a hidden enemy, so that he and Dwyn can seal their Highland passion with a vow.
A Buchanan brother finds a love to treasure in this scintillating historical romance from New York Times bestselling author Lynsay Sands…
After escaping from the English soldiers who attacked her home and imprisoned her in a dungeon, Lady Elysande de Valance is grateful for the rugged Scots who are escorting her to safety in the Highlands. Even with danger dogging their every step, she hadn’t expected to welcome the strong comforting embrace of their leader, Rory Buchanan. They say he’s a healer, but she finds the heat of his touch does so much more…
Let his brothers get married—Rory is too busy tending to the sick to be bothered with wooing a bride. But when he is tasked with accompanying a family friend’s “treasure” to the Highlands, he is surprised to learn the treasure is a beautiful woman on the run—and even more surprised to discover bruises hidden by her veil. Rory makes it his mission to tend to her injuries and protect her, but the thought of losing her makes him realize that perhaps it is his heart that is most in need of healing…
New York Times Bestselling Author Lynsay Sands delivers another sexy historical romance set in the wilds of the Highlands
In all her daydreams about her wedding day, Lady Claray MacFarlane never once imagined being dragged to the altar by her greedy uncle and forced to marry a man she didn’t know. But that’s what happened, or would have, had a Highland warrior not snatched her up at the last minute and ridden off with her in his arms.
They call him the Wolf. The mercenary’s courage and prowess in battle are known throughout the Highlands, and with his handsome face and black-as-sin hair, he is as intelligent and deadly as the wolf he was named for…
But the Wolf is also Claray’s betrothed. Thought to have been killed as a child, he’s been in hiding all these years. Now he’s determined to earn enough coin to rebuild his home, reclaim his birthright, and honor his marriage contract to Claray. For he’s fallen for the tender-hearted lass…and he will do anything to protect her and their future together.
I don’t think I’ve ever reviewed an entire series like this before, but there is always a first time, so here it is. I found this series when another librarian was trying to help her patron find this and she asked on a readers’ advisory listserv I frequent. The patron didn’t remember the author or any of the titles, only the barest facts about it: a small town setting in Wyoming, military veterans, romance. Another librarian suggested this series, and I was intrigued. I recently read another series set in a similar area, Wranglers of Wyoming by R.C. Ryan, which I loved, so I thought I’d check out this one.
I read them all in about two weeks. Sometimes that is not a good thing – I think I would have enjoyed them more with some time between each book. As it was, these books were addicting for me, even though I have some real criticism about them.
The setting is a small town in western Wyoming in the Wind River Valley (a real place.) In the books, this is a small, impoverished town with a few families that are well off; one is quite wealthy. They are about 50 miles from the very wealthy Jackson Hole area, which is referenced regularly.
There are some characters that are in pretty much all the books. Maud and Steve own the largest ranch in the area, over 100,000 acres. Maud runs the ranch, and Steve is a world renowned architect. They mostly hire veterans to work for them. Shay owns another ranch, but a much smaller one that is in bad shape. She inherited the ranch from her mother, who died when she was young. Her father is an alcoholic and quite abusive, and he has run the ranch into the ground. When he has a stroke, Shay gets a hardship discharge from the armed services to go home and take over the ranch. She decides to only hire veterans like herself who are suffering from PTSD.
Most of the books take place on one of these two ranches. There are occasional pointed jabs at the VA and the lack of help they provide for our veterans, but these books are not political in nature, and the author has lived a lot of what she puts her characters through. She’s a veteran, among other things, and you can read all about her here: https://lindsaymckenna.com/about/
While I have a lot of respect for the author, I have some issues with this series. All the characters are the same. Pretty much everyone is a veteran, which I really liked. Almost all have been Black Ops in Afghanistan, which makes them super vigilant and extremely observant. All the men are kind, have old school manners, calloused hands, and are afraid of relationships mostly because of their PTSD. They often display “sour smiles,” whatever that is. They are all tall and well built (these are romances!) and pretty much everyone in these books (and frankly, in most romance novels) have blue, green, or gray eyes with just a couple of exceptions. That’s been bugging me for a while, so I did some research.
Can you guess the rarest eye color in the United States?
The [American Academy of Ophthalmology] surveyed more than 2,000 Americans to determine what color eyes they have. Below are the results of that 2014 Harris Poll survey, weighted to reflect the United States population at that time.
Of the 2014 U.S. population:
45% have brown eyes
27% have blue eyes
18% have hazel eyes
9% have green eyes
1% have eyes a color not listed above (i.e. gray or amber)
The women are mostly tall and thin, usually underweight due to their PTSD. They are also afraid of relationships, same PTSD issues. They appreciate the gentleman-like manners. I loved that all the men treat the women as equals. There is so much respect for the military that it carries through to relationships these veterans have in civilian life. Every man and woman is a team player, works hard, never asks for help, hated and stopped taking the drugs prescribed by the VA, and are open to the physician’s assistant in town who is studying PTSD and offers them help via more natural methods.
Most of them have experienced homelessness, even if they come from good families. Some of the men are divorced due to PTSD, a couple are young widowers. All these veterans experience flashbacks and nightmares, making them feel like they can’t live at home with civilians who don’t understand their symptoms, not to mention they feel like they disturb the household too much to live there. They are all incredibly anxious and find salvation working with animals on these ranches. And they all acknowledge their sexual attraction to one another by feeling “warmth” or “tightness” in their “lower body,” which I found weird.
While some of the female vets did mention how badly a lot of the men in the armed services treated them, it was mostly glossed over. No mention whatsoever of the prevalence of sexual assaults, either, and of course all the men in these books totally respect women, especially those in combat, which I found quite aspirational rather than believable.
After the first book, both ranches offer their employees their own homes to live in on the ranch. At Shay’s ranch, all the wranglers are men. The homes are two bedrooms and when she hires a new wrangler, all women, she assigns them to one of the houses to live with the man who already lives there. How convenient it is that every one of these women and men fall in love with their house partner.
All the relationships take most of the book to come to fruition due to their fears and lack of communication. They all realize they have feelings, usually very strong feelings, for the person they are living with, but are hesitant to express those feelings because they are afraid they are not reciprocated. They are also afraid the other person is dealing with too much stress/psychological issues/PTSD to want to have a relationship.
A couple of these books have strong elements of suspense as well. There is a family in town who are the bad guys. The father abused his entire family. There are four sons and a mother, and all are drug users and violent criminals. Some or all of them feature prominently in a few of the books, are briefly mentioned in others.
A couple of the books center on women who aren’t working on one of the ranches. Kassie’s Cowboy is a novella, hence the addition of “6.5” in the series, and is only available as an ebook. Kassie owns the diner in this small town, and hires veterans for her staff. She is one of the few characters that doesn’t have PTSD, but all her staff do so she understands and knows how to deal with it. Wind River Lawman centers around the sheriff of the county, an odd title considering that Sarah is the sheriff, elected after her father retired. She is a veteran with issues and her love interest is a wrangler hired to work on her family’s ranch.
Finally, sex. Most romances have sex, and while these books definitely lean towards the sweet side of romance, all have one sex scene towards the end of the book. It is not very explicit, and in every book it is as close to being the exact same scene as in every other book in this series. It is the type of sex that I thought indicated a man actually wrote this series. Then, as I learned about the author, I thought ah ha! I’m right, he’s writing under a pseudonym. But her website indicates she is a woman, and the one photo I found is of a woman. Maybe it is an age thing? But that really isn’t an excuse to write bad sex scenes. All the men in these books are assumed to be great lovers by all the women in these books because, from what I can tell, of their good manners?
Worst of all, these are the type of sex scenes that make me want to stop reading; kissing leads to simultaneous orgasms from intercourse over a page or two, and that’s all she wrote. Literally.
Besides the instantaneous & simultaneous orgasms, my other big issue with the sex is that every single character hates & refuses to use condoms. One of the women is on the pill, but everyone else is “clean” and the women are all in a “safe” time of the month. I really wanted to suggest they drive by the nearest parochial school and ask the moms picking up those kids how many of those kids are there despite the “safe” time of the month.
There are so many coincidences sprinkled throughout these books that it makes the mind reel. So many of the veterans in this town were people who served together in Afghanistan. According to the Washington Post, 775,000 men and women served there. Not sure what the odds are that so many of these soldiers would end up in this little town many years later, with some of them having served together, too. It all seems pretty far fetched to me. But what do I know.
There is also a bit of confusion about the wealthy family in town. Early in the series, we are told that over the years they fostered some children who are now grown, and are still helping them out. Later in the series, it turns out these children were adopted. There are four of them, and we really don’t learn anything about them until book 8 when the oldest daughter comes home. Then we learn that three of them are in the military, and the fourth is in drug enforcement (DEA.) He shows up in the last book.
That’s a whole of complaining about a series of books that I still managed to read. I believe these books are best read in order. They are formulaic as hell; change the names, swap out the ranch or occupation, and everything else pretty much stays the same. I never thought I would like a series that is so formulaic with such bad sex scenes, but I overlooked all that because I did like these stories. I liked the respect for the military. I liked how strong these women were, even if they occasionally lapse into helpless female on rare occasion. I always like small town romances, and I really liked this small town that revolves around helping veterans. I liked the men; how strong they were, the work they do, the way they treat one another and their women. There was enough good there to keep me picking up book after book, even if I can’t quantify it exactly.
That said, I doubt I’d read anything else by this author (or any of her pseudonyms.) There is one storyline that hangs over all these books, concerning Shay’s abusive father. As he starts recovering from his stroke, he is determined to take back the ranch from his daughter. He files a lawsuit but it is not resolved; it’s just hanging over all these characters and books. I’m hoping there will be another book that finally resolves that. But it’s looking doubtful – the last book in this series was published in 2020.
Finally, I wanted to add that I read all of these books on Hoopla, an app that is available through libraries. If your library doesn’t offer it, ask for it! I don’t love reading in the app, it’s not nearly as seamless as my Kindle but it works and I read these all on my iPad. They offer ebooks, audiobooks, comics (graphic novels,) movies, TV series, and music; pretty much any kind of streaming material. My library allows patrons to borrow 18 items per month, but your mileage may vary. Oh, and the content changes at the whim of Hoopla, libraries have no say in it beyond suggestions. So just because I found all these books there now, they may not be there next month or next year. What I like best about Hoopla is that whatever they have is always available. If you are used to borrowing ebooks through Cloud Library or Overdrive, you know you have to reserve popular items and wait. That doesn’t happen on Hoopla – what you see is what you get.
First in the series from the bestselling author. “The ever-present sensuality is a magnetic force that propels the novel forward amid simmering suspense.”—Publishers Weekly
From the moment Roan Taggart picks up the pretty redhead at the Jackson Hole airport, his training and experience tells him she is spooked. She’s left New York City to visit the Wind River Ranch, where Roan is a wrangler, and just as he can pick up a horse’s mood, he can feel the tension coming off her body. And that vulnerability is triggering all his protective instincts . . .
A Marine veteran finds a chance for redemption and romance in this novel from the New York Times–bestselling author of Wind River Undercover.
Not so long ago, Reese Lockhart was commanding a company of Marines. Now his life is spiraling out of control. The Bar C ranch outside Jackson Hole, Wyoming may be his last chance to save himself . . .
Shaylene Crawford, an Afghanistan veteran herself, knows all too well the demons of PTSD—that’s why she’s determined to turn her family’s cattle ranch into a place where wounded warriors can work, find a home, and rebuild their souls. Her embittered father nearly drank and gambled the place away, but with help from a small crew of vets—including the newest arrival, the quietly compelling Reese Lockhart—she intends to hold on to her dream. And when someone tries to destroy that dream, Reese will do whatever it takes to defend her . . .
Two veterans reunited at a Wyoming ranch reignite their passion for each other—from the New York Times–bestselling author of Wind River Undercover.
Kira Duval was part of a Special Forces team that got caught in an ambush—leaving only two wounded survivors: herself and Weapons Sergeant Garret Fleming. Losing her team was traumatic, and in the chaotic aftermath, as the Army moved them from hospital to hospital, she lost Garret too. But she never lost her secret yearning for him.
Finally, she gave up trying to track him down back in the States. But as she settles in at the Bar C cattle ranch in Wyoming, a place where veterans can find a home and a place to heal, she’s introduced to her sandy-haired, hazel-eyed housemate: none other than Garret Fleming.
They’re a long way from Afghanistan—and a long way from the people they used to be before tragedy changed their lives. But as Kira earns her keep by caregiving for the ranch owner’s bedridden, alcoholic father—a task that sometimes feels more challenging than any black ops mission—she finds that even in peacetime Garret still has her back, and that in this warm, welcoming place, the passion she resisted in the heat of battle may finally have a chance to flourish…
Two military veterans find solace, and each other, on a horse ranch in this romance from the New York Times–bestselling author of Wind River Undercover.
For Noah Mabry, it’s easier sometimes to relate to the dogs and horses he trains than to other people. Ever since his marriage became a casualty of the war in Afghanistan—torn apart by the PTSD he brought back with him—he prefers to be on his own. At the Bar C Ranch in Wyoming, where he works with a crew of fellow military vets, his gentle patience helps tame even the rowdiest mustang—but he’s about to meet a woman who needs a healing touch he’s not sure he can give.
Dair Wilson, a half-Comanche ex-Marine who lost a foot to an IED, has been hired on to assist Noah, but her deepest wounds aren’t visible. Growing up in an abusive home, she learned not to trust men, even ones who seem nothing but kind. After a wild horse sends her sprawling, the attentive care she receives from the Bar C family—and especially from Noah—is enough to convince her she’s found a place she can finally breathe easy. But one angry, damaged man poses a threat not only to Dair and Noah, but to everyone who’s built a new home at the Bar C…
5. Lone Rider (Wind River Valley Book 5) by Lindsay McKenna
A Wyoming ranch holds the future for a combat medic and a photographer in this romance from the New York Times–bestselling author of Wind River Undercover.
As a combat photographer in Afghanistan, Tara Dalton saw things she won’t ever forget, as much as she would like to. And after returning Stateside, she can’t fight her way past the PTSD that’s haunted her ever since. Desperate to make a change, she joins her old friend Shay at the Bar C Ranch, where a group of ex-military vets are putting their lives back together one step at a time—including one strong, gentle bear of a man who makes her feel safer than she has in years.
Harper Sutton fell farther than he ever imagined after his tour of duty as a medic was up, and he’s not proud of it. But at the Bar C, he’s doing work that means something, and he’s training to be a professional paramedic. That’s enough to concentrate on, until Tara comes to share his place at the ranch. The shadows in her eyes are darker than simply memories of war, and every moment he spends with her opens up parts of himself he’d thought long dead. But as Tara’s troubled past threatens the present, it will take trust in each other to fight for a future together…
A small-town sheriff gets some backup in more ways than one from a Navy veteran turned rancher in this romance from a New York Times–bestselling author.
After serving as a Navy medic, Dawson Callahan is back in the States and ready to start over. Leaving his native Texas, he heads for the wide-open spaces of Wyoming, where he finds work as a wrangler. True, he’ll mainly be wrangling chickens—and wrangling Sarah Carter’s granny, who’s still spry, but in need of a little caregiving. But ranch work is ranch work, and it’s hard to turn down a job offer from the beautiful Sheriff Carter—especially when she deputizes him as one of her lawmen.
Sarah loves her grandmother, but with her law enforcement career keeping her busy, they could both use some help from a strong, steady man. And policing Lincoln County has only gotten tougher since a merciless drug lord arrived in the area. When Sarah takes a bullet on the job, it’s Dawson who comes to her rescue—and though they both thought they left war behind in Afghanistan, they’ll do whatever it takes to protect what’s theirs, even if it means facing down traumas they’ve buried for years. Because love isn’t for the faint of heart…
A Christmas blizzard reunites a Marine veteran with his high school sweetheart in this romance novella from a New York Times–bestselling author.
A brutal blue norther is battering Wind River Valley in Wyoming just in time for Christmas when retired Marine Travis Grant spies a driver spinning out of control on black ice. It’s probably a tourist who doesn’t understand the deadly conditions, and Travis knows he has to help. The last person he expects to find behind the wheel is his childhood love, Kassie Murphy. She’s injured, but alive. And now, for Travis and Kassie, this snowy silent night will be one last chance to put the painful past behind them—and treat the wounds only love can heal.
An ex-Marine and an Army nurse discover the strength to love again on a Wyoming ranch—from the New York Times–bestselling author of Wind River Undercover.
After a harrowing tour of duty in Afghanistan, Army nurse Lily Thompson escapes to Wind River Ranch to find herself once more. Working as a caregiver to foreman Jake Murdoch’s elderly mother, Lily almost feels at peace—except for the unsettling presence of Jake, a tight-lipped, intimidating man everyone calls Bear. But one look in the powerful ex-Marine’s eyes and Lily glimpses a vulnerability that shakes her soul: a hurt she understands all too well—and longs to heal . . .
Jake is ready to rail at the fates when Lily moves into his home. Everything about this captivating woman calls to him, demanding that he abandon his solitary stance and start to live again. But Jake is a man who knows that no one can save him from the past that stalks his heart and mind. Not even sweet, achingly beautiful Lily. Still, that doesn’t stop his longing to pull her into his arms—and keep her there forever. Will time, and patience, bring them the courage to make their connection real?…
The new novel from the bestselling author of Home to Wind River.
Real love is worth every risk . . .
Ex-Air Force pilot Andy Whitcomb loves nothing more than the wide blue skies, but when a helicopter crash fighting forest fires in California leaves her injured and shaken, she’s ready to return home to the peace of Wind River Ranch. The good news is, there’s a chance for her to fly helos for the county sheriff’s department. The bad news? The person in charge is none other than Dev Mitchell, an ex-Army Black Hawk pilot—and the rugged, sharp-eyed man Andy has never forgotten after five days together running from the Taliban after a nerve-wracking near-miss in Afghanistan.
Dev can’t believe his eyes when Andy walks into the interview. She’s as strong and sexy as he remembers, and every bit qualified for the job, which she clearly wants. Unfortunately, if he’s going to be her boss, their relationship has to remain strictly professional—a regret Dev fights to keep hidden as they begin to work together. But when a chance encounter with violent drug traffickers forces them into survival mode, both of them will fight to hold on to the connection they can’t ignore—and the chance of a future together.
)The new novel from the bestselling author of Wind River Protector.
Hide in plain sight.
For native Guatemalan Anna Navaro, nothing is more satisfying than capturing drug traffickers for the U.S. DEA. Her career has always been her focus, but just as she’s beginning to yearn for something more, she’s given a brand-new assignment with DEA agent Gabe Whitcomb. In his well-worn Stetson and boots, he’s part cowboy and part law enforcement, a combination Anna finds irresistibly sexy. But desire has no place on a job as dangerous as this one, because the drug lord they’re after is the violent fugitive who killed her father . . .
Gabe’s worked some treacherous assignments in the past, but this one raises every alarm—and not just because his partner is a gorgeous woman with the grace of a cat and a sniper’s deadly aim. He and Anna are being sent to the Wind River Valley where he grew up—and where his adoptive parents still own a ranch just eighty miles from the Elson family, who have been recruited into the ruthless Gonzalez cartel. Posing as new ranch-owners and ingratiating themselves with the Elsons to uncover evidence, Anna and Gabe can only fight the heat flaring between them until they realize that building a life together, here in Wind River, is worth risking everything for . . .
New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Ryan is known for her cowboy heroes, strong-willed heroines, and powerful love stories. Always page-turning, her western set romances are perfect for fans of Diana Palmer, BJ Daniels, and Linda Lael Miller.
Cowboys live by their word, their wits, and their loyalty.
Jon Crawford has returned to Montana, determined to take over his father’s ranch and raise his daughter in Big Sky Country, leaving the big-city life behind once and for all. He doesn’t have time to fall in love, but he doesn’t count on stubborn but beautiful Trinity McGrath, who arouses his protective instincts even as she tries to push him away.
Life hasn’t always been easy for Trinity, but now she has everything she needs—her family, friends, and a safe and secure life. With a business to build, Trinity doesn’t have time for romance…until Jon comes barging into her life and all her intentions are turned upside down!
Still, an attraction like theirs is too powerful to deny, and sometimes true love comes along when you least expect it. But when someone from Jon’s past comes back with a vengeance, Trinity and Jon will have to do everything they can to save themselves and their new love…
Trinity has a successful small business and is trying to grow it. She had a terrible experience (in the previous book) and has PTSD which flares up from time to time. She meets Jon when he moves back to this small town. He is moving to his family ranch because he wants his daughter to grow up there. He had a very successful business in L.A., but realizes he needs to spend time with her. She’s only 4 and is the cutest part of the book for sure. Her mother, on the other hand, is a nightmare. Luckily, they are not (and have never been) married, but she is hopeful they will get back together. He is adamant that it will never happen.
The mom is an awful, selfish woman who does not take very good care of their daughter. Jon finds it frustrating, and is trying to make things work. They have shared custody, which helps, but he knows there are some serious issues going on and isn’t sure how to handle it all.
Trinity is making a delivery to Jon’s dad and that’s how they meet. When she doesn’t get a response to her knock, she goes in and finds him barely breathing on the floor. She struggles to get him out of the house and into her car, thinking it will be much faster for her to take him to the hospital than to wait for an ambulance that has to come from another town. When she finally gets him outside, Jon is there to help. He makes her a bit nervous, but eventually she figures out he is truly the son and a nice guy. In fact, he’s a very nice guy and he is immediately drawn to Trinity. She’s not so sure.
The more they see each other, the more they both realize they have something special. But dealing with the mom is very difficult, and things progressively get worse with her. Eventually, Jon and Trinity find their happily ever after with his daughter, and a happy ending is reached. But there is a lot of drama before they get there, and just a little bit of sex. I really loved these characters and realize I need to go back and read the last book. I did review Waiting on a Cowboy, the first book. Another excellent read from Jennifer Ryan!
9/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch
TRUE LOVE COWBOY by Jennifer Ryan. Avon (August 24, 2021). ISBN: 978-0063020801. 384 pages.