Stranded With The Rancher

*I was given a free copy of this book in return for an honest review. All thoughts are my own. I was not paid by the publisher or the author for my review.*

Stranded with the RancherAvailable: October 7, 2014

Stranded With The Rancher — Janice Maynard

I’ve read several of Janice’s books in the past… but I think this one might be my favorite of hers. Who doesn’t love a good cowboy romance? I know I do.

Most of the western/cowboy romance books have similar plot lines. Billionaire rancher falls for the poorer woman in town and uses whatever means he deems necessary to woo her. This one… wasn’t quite like that.

Yes, there is a Billionaire Rancher man. Drew Farrell is known for his prized horse breeding program. He’s a self made man and likes things just the way he likes it. Unfortunately, his neighbor likes to make things difficult. Mainly by putting her vegetable stand right on the fence line that separates the shared road between their two properties. He’d prefer that she didn’t have her business so close to where his customers were driving by, and she’d prefer that he wasn’t such a good looking asshat all the time.

But beggars can’t be choosers.

Drew and Beth Andrews have a relationship founded on bickering. It’s sort of like a love/hate relationship. They love to hate on each other.

Until Mother Nature decides to intervene. During one of their usual spats about the location of her veggie stand, a tornado worthy of Oz makes an appearance. Both Drew and Beth have to run for their lives to the nearest tornado shelter, which happens to be on her property.

I live in the Midwest where monster tornadoes are common. Actually… where tornadoes of any kind are common. Every house in my neighborhood has a storm shelter. Most of them are like the ones in the book, where it’s accessed by the outside and your only protection is two doors and a latch. In my house, our shelter is in the basement. We have a six by six concrete room to hide in if the sirens go off.

I’m sure Beth and Drew would have preferred the storm shelter in my house to the one they took shelter in outside her house.

The way that Janice Maynard described the terror that was the tornado was pure magic. I could see what Drew and Beth were going through. I could feel their terror when the tornado passed over the top of their shelter.

After the storm passes and they’re eventually freed from their shelter turned prison, things are different. Not just because their town is destroyed in some places, and only battered in others. Not just because they survived death. Or maybe because they survived death. Both of them start to see each other in a new light.

Beth fights it harder than Drew does. Her life hasn’t always been pumpkins and farming and happy times. Her childhood was horrible and left scars that remained long into adulthood. Drew’s had it pretty easy for the most part. He’s wealthy and didn’t have to deal with the same things Beth has had to while growing up. He’s used to getting what he wants and isn’t exactly pleased when things don’t go his way.

I loved watching them change. It was horrible that they had to go through such a terrifying ordeal first, but I think they grew into being better people.

Of course, some things from the past come back to make things hard for them. Beth’s family issues and Drew’s hardheadedness both almost break them before they’ve really even begun to have their relationship.

Drew knows that he’s messed up almost from the time that the mess up happened. When you do something and you’re second guessing yourself… in my experience, that isn’t a good sign. Luckily for him, his hardheadedness comes in handy with fixing everything and overcoming her insecurities.

I really loved this book. I could completely understand why both Beth and Drew did the things that they did. There were times that I either wanted to pop one of them upside then back of the head and shake the other. Or vice versa. It was wonderfully written and I was very sad when it ended.

If you want a heartfelt love story with some scary weather, a hardheaded rancher, and a woman who is stubborn personified… then this is your book.

10/10 would recommend.

The Billionaire Cowboy

*I was given a free copy of this book in return for an honest review. All thoughts are my own. I was not paid by the publisher or the author for my review.*

The Billionaire CowboyAvailable: October 7, 2014

The Billionaire Cowboy — Mandy Baxter

I will totally admit, I requested to read this book just based on the cover before I ever read the synopsis of the book. That’s probably super shallow of me…but do you see that cover!? *fans self*

This was the first book that I’ve ever read by Mandy Baxter, and I seriously enjoyed myself. This is the first book in a set of three (maybe there will be more later) novellas. Notice I said first. I read something in order finally! Go me!

Anyway.

The Billionaire Cowboy is a very quick read. It takes place over a weekend (maybe two days) so it’s not very long. There’s enough backstory given and the characters are fleshed out enough that it makes it work. Do I wish it had been longer? Of course I do, but I was definitely okay with the book and the length.

Sometimes when books are this short, it’s hard to get a really good feel for the main characters and have an actual storyline… not just hot sexy times. Mandy Baxter pulled it off splendidly. There was definitely sexy times. Hot sexy times, but it had more than that. We were given a bit of back ground of both Ryder and Lara.

I loved Lara. She was a strong woman who didn’t take any shit from Ryder. She’s trying to rebuild her family’s tarnished reputation and has been avoiding Ryder’s advances because it’s known in town how much of a playboy he is… and being seen as his flavor of the night isn’t something that would particularly help her endeavor to give the family name some good press.

I also really liked Ryder. He was a bit of a butt, but he was a lovable butt. He knew what he wanted (Lara) and went after it. Of course, when he realized that his current plan of action wasn’t working, he switched gears and did what he had to so that he could get the girl. There were a few times I wanted to pop him on the back of the head, but overall I liked him and I loved how he was with Lara.

Even though this is a really short read, I really enjoyed the book. I’ve already added the next two books to my ever-growing “To read” list.

If you’re looking for a hot quick read, The Billionaire Cowboy is a very good option.

10/10 would recommend.

Riding High

*I was given a free copy of this book in return for an honest review. All thoughts are my own. I was not paid by the publisher or the author for my review.*

Riding HighPublished: May 20, 2014

Riding High — Vickie Lewis Thompson

I’ve been a fan of Vickie Lewis Thompson since at least 2007. I fell in love with her Nerd series and read ALL of them. In fact, I think they’re at home sitting on my bookshelf in my room. Between my later teen years and now, I kind of got lost in the sea of books I was reading. When the Nerd books were over, I remember not picking up the next series because it was paranormal… and at that point in my reading life, I wasn’t into that (things have changed).

I didn’t realize until recently that she had a cowboy series out. A HUGE series. There’s like… at least fifteen books in this series. When I saw this book — Riding High — and that it was written by her, I knew I had to read it.

I was not disappointed.

I now know that I need to go back and add the other books in this series to my ever growing “to be read” list. I had forgotten how easy it is to fall in love with her characters and get wrapped up in the story.

In Riding High we have Lily King. She’s a free spirit and has recently taken over a horse sanctuary… without really knowing what all that entailed. Lily has a sweet spirit and has a hard time saying no to animals and people who are in need. That’s how she finds herself with twenty odd horses, two potbelly pigs, and several chickens. Because she could and because it made her happy, Lily paints her ranch house and the barn bright colors. And by bright I mean… if you’re looking for her place, you won’t miss it because of the brightly painted buildings. Her barn is pink with turquoise trim.

This is the first thing that Regan O’Connelli sees when he drives up to the gate of Lily’s place. Regan is a veterinarian, and the brother-in-law of one of Lily’s close friends. As a favor to Nick (Lily’s friend and his brother-in-law) Regan agreed to go to her ranch to check on her horses.

Their first meeting was interesting to say the least.

Her free spirit reminds him of his own parents (they’re very hippie-ish too), but her soft and sweetness draws him in. He can’t help but want to be around her and help her learn how to run her horse sanctuary. Lily’s attracted to the big veterinarian from the very beginning. If I remember it right, she compared him to Johnny Depp. I’d be attracted to him too. Though, when she learns that he’s had a recent broken engagement… she’s a little wary. Nobody likes to be the rebound.

I loved their relationship. It seemed so real and authentic. Lily was worried about being a rebound, but was able to get past that because she didn’t want to miss her chance at being with him. Her hippy ways that at first made him pause were part of the reason why he fell for her. They were both so good for each other. She was able to show him that holding onto anger, and never forgiving things that have happened in the past aren’t healthy… and it keeps you from moving on and forward. He was able to show her that she was stronger than she believed… that the world wouldn’t end if she grew a little back bone and said no once in a while to people. Letting the world walk all over you and take advantage of your good nature isn’t healthy either.

The growth in both of them was just amazing. I loved watching them change into better people for themselves and for each other. The background characters were a hoot. I’m sure once I read all the other books in the series, I’ll learn who everyone is.

I loved this book. I can’t state it any better than that. I just loved this book. The characters, Vicki’s writing… all of it.

This author isn’t one that you should skip over, and neither is this series. Don’t do what I did… start at the beginning so you can fall in love with everyone in the right order.

10/10 would recommend.

Branded

*I was given a free copy of this book in return for an honest review. All thoughts are my own. I was not paid by the publisher or the author for my review.*

Branded

Published: June 3, 2014

Branded — Laura Wright

I’ve mentioned before that I’m always drawn to the covers before the actual stories. This one was no different. We have a scruffy, hunky shirtless cowboy smoldering at us. Do you see that smolder? I melt. 

Branded is about Deacon Cavanaugh and his two brothers (James and Cole). The three men couldn’t be more different. Deacon is a millionaire businessman that owns and flies helicopters. James is a horse whisperer, and is also rolling in money. Cole is a professional fighter and covered in tattoos and bad attitude. 

The three left their hometown of River Black, Texas after tragedy struck their family twelve years before. The kidnapping and unsolved murder of their only sister Cass and then the breakdown of the rest of the family afterwards causes the three to leave and not look back. 

Until their father’s funeral brings them back. 

This is where the drama really starts. The three Cavanaugh brothers find out during the reading of their father’s will that the Triple C gets left to the four Cavanaugh boys. The only problem with that is… there’s three of them. It’s a shock for the brothers to find out that their father had an affair with a woman in town years ago and that they now have a younger brother named Blue Perez. 

Blue has been working on the ranch as a hand for years and had no idea that his boss was actually his father. He’s Mac’s best friend and right hand man. When he learns the news… that he has three older brothers, a father he didn’t know was his own, and that his mother kept all of this from him, he’s pissed. Then again, so are Deacon, James and Cole. 

Deacon has for the last several years been trying to buy the family ranch — The Triple C — from his father. When that plan didn’t go the way he wanted it, he decided to go about buying all the land surrounding the Triple C and build up his own ranch. Deacon’s hated the Triple C since he left a decade before. 

His sister’s best friend and Deacon’s former pain in the ass when he was a teenager Mackenzie Byrd is now running the Triple C as the foreman. Mac, as she’s known by everyone around, is hell on wheels. She’s a tough cookie and doesn’t take shit form anyone. It doesn’t matter if it’s a cow that’s gotten herself stuck in some mud because she was wondering where she shouldn’t have, a bunch of cowboys who may or may not have done their job right, or an asshole businessman who’s dead set on destroying her livelihood. I loved Mac. She held nothing back and said exactly what she was thinking and feeling. If she was pissed off at you, you knew it. 

Deacon was an asshat. I loved him, but he was an asshat. He was pretty convinced that he’d get his way, come hell or high water. I couldn’t really blame him toooo much, because he was used to getting his way. Money sure does have a way of making things happen. Even though he was such a hardass, when he knew he’d screwed up, he did the best he could to fix it. He was very honest with his feelings to Mac, which was another thing about him I loved. He wanted a future with her, and wasn’t afraid to tell her. The only thing that stood in the way of that happening was the Triple C. 

Mac loves the ranch and everything about it. Deacon hates it. How in the world are they going to make it work? I wasn’t too sure how they’d pull it off until the end and Deacon pulled his head out of his ass. 

I loved getting to know James and Cole. I know that James’s book comes out next (can’t wait), but there’s no mention on the author’s website about Cole’s book. I’m crossing my fingers and my toes that we’ll get to find out more about Cole. I’m also really hoping that Blue will get his own story. He’s a sweet kid that’s been dealt a tough hand. I really loved his character. 

Throughout the whole book, their sister Cass’s murder is discussed. They’re still trying to figure out who did it, and thanks to some new help… seem to be heading in the right direction. At the end of the book we don’t find out exactly what happened. It’s left open. 

I’m assuming that was done so that it could be solved in the second book. I hate being left hanging though. Who is this mysterious “Sweets” character?? What role did he have in Cass’s death (if any)? I guess I’ll have to wait until Broken (book 2) comes out in October. Humph. 

Overall I loved Branded. Laura Wright fully brings to life her characters and makes you fall in love with them. Even when they’re been a jerk. 

10/10 would recommend. 

Last of the Red Hot Cowboys (Hell’s Outlaws)

*I was given a free copy of this book in return for an honest review. All thoughts are my own. I was not paid by the publisher or the author for my review.*

Red Hot Cowboys

Available: June 24, 2014

Last of the Red Hot Cowboys (Hell’s Outlaws)  — Tina Leonard

Once again, this was a new author for me. I thoroughly enjoyed her writing and I’m excited to read whatever else she puts out (or has already put out). 

Last of the Red Hot Cowboys was such a fun read. You have a super hot retired SEAL that’s now a cowboy — Trace Carter — who’s tough and a total asshat most of the time, but once you get to know him… he’s a sweetheart. Trace and his “brothers” Saint and Declan are all former military men who’ve come home to Hell, Texas (I just love the name of the town) to open up a training facility for barrel racing, horseback riding and other general horsemen stuff. 

The three men are referred to in town as the Outlaws, which just tickled me. These three aren’t really outlaws… they’re not bad guys, but they’re a little rough around the edges. 

Their direct competition in Hell is another training facility run by a group of men (including Declan’s brother) who are referred to as the Horsemen. These guys are not the type of guy you’d want to be alone with… well. Most of them anyway. They all rubbed me wrong and I didn’t like them at all

The mayor of Hell, Judy, brings in three women from around the country to hopefully start up a woman’s bullfighting team. The idea isn’t met with the most warm reception ever. Trace and the rest of the Outlaws are asked to train the women. The Outlaws (okay, mostly Trace) say no, that they can’t do that because it’s too dangerous. I can understand that. Have you seen a bull? They’re HUGE. Unfortunately for Trace, one of the women Judy’s managed to bring back to Hell to hopefully train to be a bullfighter catches his attention. Ava Buchanan isn’t about to let some sexist cowboy — no matter how sexy he is — tell her she can’t do something. 

I loved all of the secondary characters in the book. Judy and Sheriff Steel were hilarious with their romance. Cameron and Harper (the other women Judy brought to Hell) were annoying at times but were equally hilarious with their interactions with Saint and Declan. 

Judy is the queen of manipulation. Her real reasons for bringing the Hell’s Belles (Ava, Cameron and Harper) into town isn’t revealed until later in the book. I was kind of surprised, but not completely. After getting to know Judy’s character more, it kind of made sense. That woman has a the whole alphabet as a plan and back up plans. 

There were times I wanted to strangle Trace, but overall I just loved him. He never lied to Ava about if he would train her for bullfighting or not. He made his beliefs about it being too dangerous for women upfront from the start. I loved that. He was steadfast in his ideals, but not a liar. 

I was chuckling throughout the entire book. There were some points that just weren’t supposed to be funny, and they weren’t… but man. When there was supposed to be humor? HILARIOUS. I almost felt bad for some of the men in Hell. The women in town don’t take shit from anyone and the men know it.

Last of the Red Hot Cowboys was a high quality read and I can’t wait to see what happens to Saint and Declan… and the rest of the residents of Hell. I’ll definitely be looking for more by Tina Leonard. 

10/10 would recommend. 

Once Tasted

*I was given a free copy of the book for an honest review. All thoughts about the book are my own. I was not paid by the publisher or the author for this review*

Once Tasted

Published: May 27, 2014

I love discovering new authors that I’ve never read before. Sometimes it doesn’t work out so great. This book was not the case.

I’d never even heard of Laura Moore until I got this book. That cover…*sigh*. Do you see that cover? It makes me want to find my own hunky bad boy cowboy dude.

Right from the start I had a feeling that I was going to like this one. Mrs. Moore’s writing style is smooth as a fine wine. It was apparent that she really loved her main characters, Reid Knowles and Mia Bodell along with all of the secondary characters — Reid’s family (I love his sister Quinn. She’s seriously the best), Mia’s uncle Thomas and the winery workers. Plus the animals. I loved the animals.

I should probably explain all of that.

Reid Knowles and his family live on a ranch next door to Mia and her uncle Thomas, who own a winery. I’m not that knowledgable about wine (I’m partial to vodka…preferably with orange juice) but when I do drink wine, I’m like Quinn (Reid’s little sister). Both Quinn and I choose our wine based on how the label looks. If it’s pretty and I can tell it’s a sweet wine, I’ll buy it.

Mia has pretty much avoided Reid since they were in high school and Jay (Mia’s evil cousin) steals Mia’s diary and reads it OUT LOUD for everyone to hear. Not only is that a horrible thing to have happen to someone, but the diary contains Mia’s feelings for Reid. She’s mortified that Jay embarrassed her, and furious at Reid for not doing anything to stop it.

It isn’t until they’re both adults and that Thomas decides to move to France to be with his ladylove that Mia and Reid are thrown together and have to start working together. Thomas’ trip was a seemingly sudden decision, and he left Mia in charge of running their winery. Before he leaves, he offers Reid’s family a stake in the winery (they’re successful business people) which is what causes Reid and Mia to have to work together.

It isn’t until later on in the book that Reid starts to think about Mia differently. He starts to notice little things about her that he hadn’t before and it starts to drive him crazy. I loved it. Mia, of course, had always had feelings for Reid… sometimes she had feeling like she wanted to strangle him, others that she wanted to kiss him silly… but she always had feelings for him.

Watching them fall in love — watching Reid fall in love — was so sweet.

Mia’s cousin Jay was evil. He was that guy that we’ve all known… or at least have heard of or seen. He slicks back his hair, wears button down shirts that are halfway unbuttoned, and adorns his fat fingers with gaudy gold rings. Basically, picture a mobster wanna be. That’s Jay. He’s got a sick sense of humor and a mean streak a mile wide. He gave me the creeps and he’s not real.

Jay does his best to sabotage Mia and the winery after she turns down his request (which was more like a demand) for more money beyond what he had already received as his cut from the winery. He poisons her dog — that alone made me hate him — and he all but destroyed the winery. He almost killed the relationship between Reid and Mia until Reid figured out what was going on.

Is it bad that I totally wished the worst for Jay after all the bad he’d done? Karma definitely made an appearance and I hope he gets exactly what he deserves.

Because of Jay’s interference, Reid and Mia have a horrible fight and break up. Terrible things are said on both sides because they’re hurt. Mia has no idea that he could love her… she thinks he’s just a playboy bad boy cowboy that was just having fun with her. He never made any sort of move to prove to her otherwise. So…thinking that she’s saving herself, she breaks it off and pushes him away. That of course isn’t at all what Reid wanted. He did love Mia but he wasn’t sure how her feelings were on the matter. When she breaks things off, he’s blindsided and pissed and basically sticks his foot in his mouth. And then adds the other foot. Stupid man.

I wanted to hug Mia and shake Reid…and then I wanted to hug Reid and shake Mia. Jay I just wanted to strangle.

Thankfully, everything works out in the end and we get our sweet happy ever after.

I wasn’t quite sure if this book was meant to be a stand alone or if it was meant to kind of lead on to the next book (I think it’s Quinn’s story). We never find out if they’re able to salvage enough of the winery after Jay’s attempts at sabotage to produce any good, drinkable wine… and we never find out what exactly happens to Jay. Maybe there will be a mention of those things in the next book.

Overall, I seriously enjoyed this book. If you’ve never read Laura Moore before, you should go to your favorite book buying place (Amazon, Barnes and Noble…etc) and find her. I can’t wait to read Quinn’s book, whenever that comes out. Mrs. Moore has a new fan!