on Sept. 1, 2016
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Also in this series: Once a Rancher, Forever a Hero
He's the middle of the three Carson brothers and is as stubborn as they come—and he won't thank a beautiful stranger for getting in his way!
Drake Carson is the quintessential cowboy. In charge of the family ranch, he knows the realities of this life, its pleasures and heartbreaks. Lately, managing the wild stallions on his property is wearing him down. When an interfering so-called expert arrives and starts offering her opinion, Drake is wary, but he can't deny the longing—and the challenge—she stirs in him.
Luce Hale is researching how wild horses interact with ranch animals—and with ranchers. The Carson matriarch invites her to stay with the family, which guarantees frequent encounters with Drake, her ruggedly handsome and decidedly unwelcoming son. Luce and Drake are at odds from the very beginning, especially when it comes to the rogue stallion who's stealing the ranch mares. But when Drake believes Luce is in danger, that changes everything—for both of them.
I received a review copy of this book from the publisher.
This sequel to Once a Rancher is enjoyable both on its own and as a chance to revisit the Carson family of Mustang Creek. However, it didn’t pull me in quite as much as the first book did. There’s less romantic tension than in the first book; Drake and Luce seem to resolve their differences fairly quickly and easily, considering Drake’s initial resistance to her presence on the ranch and Luce’s long-term goals. On the other hand, there are two interesting subplots, one involving a mare-stealing wild stallion and the other a large predator which has been killing calves. Both of these inject needed conflict and suspense to contrast the relatively smooth-sailing romantic relationship.
I enjoyed Drake, who balances his responsibilities as a rancher with a deep respect and love for wildlife and the natural ecosystem. He’s taciturn and blunt, but also upright and completely trustworthy. Luce is young and charming, if a little obtuse when it comes to recognizing the impact the wild stallion is wreaking on the ranch’s herd of horses. I did find it puzzling that she is completely enamored with the wild horses but doesn’t ride.
Another on the plus side is Roy, Drake’s mentor and assistant in managing the ranch. His folksy sayings are a delight, and he’s really a marshmallow under his gruff exterior. We see less of Slater, Grace, and Ryder than I expected (see Once a Rancher), but they are around, as is youngest brother Mace, who runs the ranch’s wine-making operations. Carson matriarch Blythe is her usual wise and unstoppable self, busily matchmaking as before, abetted in this case (albeit long-distance) by Luce’s mother, Blythe’s childhood friend.
I’m looking forward to Mace’s story next; I have a feeling he’s the most complicated of the three brothers. Forever a Hero comes out in April 2017. Meanwhile, if you haven’t read Linda Lael Miller yet, I recommend starting with Once a Rancher before reading Always a Cowboy; you’ll appreciate the characters better. You may even find, as I have, that you want to go back and read the Bliss County series, too!
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
- COYER Summer Vacation 2016
Katherine @ I Wish I Lived in a Library
I liked this one as well and can’t wait for Mace’s story! I did find Luce’s relationship with horses a little odd as well. She’s not a child and she does seem to have some resources. One would think if she was that fond of horses she would have bought herself some riding lessons!
Katherine @ I Wish I Lived in a Library recently posted…Last Chance Rebel – Blog Tour Review + Giveaway
Yes, exactly. I thought there was a hint that maybe she had a bad experience as a child or something, but it was never explored. It’s pretty clear her family has money, though, so why wouldn’t she have gotten lessons in high school or college, at least? But the book was fun anyway, and I’m looking forward to Mace’s story, too.
I love Miller’s books and it has been a spell since I have read one. So glad you enjoyed this 🙂
kimbacaffeinate recently posted…Guest Review: Revenge in a Cold River by Anne Perry
I did, and I’m looking forward to the third one!
anna@herding cats & burning soup
Good side characters are so nice to find. It’s been a while since I’ve read her. I do need to get back into them. Hope the next one pulls you in just a little bit more.
anna@herding cats & burning soup recently posted…4 stars– Run to You (Risking It All #1) by Rachel Lacey
This one was good, just not as compelling as the first. And that’s OK!
Not read this author but I love cowboy romances so I must look this series up. 🙂
Stormi Johnson recently posted…The Week In Review #103
You should definitely give her a try if you like cowboy romances.