“Can a city girl on the run find safety in the arms of a rancher?
Chicago restaurant owner Sabrina Marconi needs to hide. And fast. She just sent a mob boss to prison. A competition to become the cook on a cattle ranch in Nebraska might just be the safe haven this city girl is looking for. With a new name, Laura Marshall, and a new life, everything is going according to plan. Until she meets the ranch owner.
Ranch owner Caleb Kirkpatrick is a single dad with too much on his plate. The latest ranch expansion means he needs someone to cook for his men. His brother’s idea to have the cooks compete for the job might be the craziest thing he’s ever heard. Until he meets Laura, who seems to be the most unlikely candidate to be a ranch cook.
When the competition among the women gets fierce, someone decides to play dirty, and Laura’s cooking skills might not be enough. But if she doesn’t get this job, she has nowhere to go. Not to mention the growing feelings she’s having for her boss, feelings she tries to suppress.
The drama among the competing women is almost more than Caleb can handle. He’s got his hands full with missing equipment and dead cattle. But Laura isn’t like the others, and despite his best intentions, his feelings for her are growing. What is the secret she’s hiding? Will she ever trust him enough to allow them to have a future together? And will her Chicago past chase her down in rural Nebraska?
Fans of Three Rivers Ranch Romance by Liz Isaacson, Come Sundown by Nora Roberts, Wind River Wrangler by Lindsay McKenna, and Not Quite Dating by Catherine Bybee will love this contemporary romance on the ranch.
You’ll love this book if you enjoy:
Western romances with a hint of suspense
Happily ever after romance
Contemporary romance novels
I got an ARC of this book from TCK Publishing.
I am a complete sucker for cowboy romances, at this point it is something that everyone seems to know about me. I am also someone who watches cooking shows like most stereotypical guys watch sports. It is a big thing. So a book about a cooking competition and loving a cowboy? Yes please!
I really needed a short, fluffy, easy read. This book was exactly the sort of thing I needed in theory. There was low conflict, a quick pace, and generally wholesome romance. There were a lot of things that rubbed me the wrong way (the whole “maybe you aren’t JUST a cook” comments that happened a lot) and just the way that jealousy was handled. So many romance authors rely on jealousy as a sign of love, but jealousy is a sign of unhealthy insecurities. The last conflict that happened was over the top and just didn’t sit well with me. This was not the cowboy for me. He was too insecure to be interesting. Jealousy is not hot, it not romantic, it is not ok.
Daniels relies on the idea that sexual attraction makes a relationship. Just because someone is arousing doesn’t mean that they will make a good romantic partner. The connection the main couple had was pretty much always about lust and not about love. I wanted more love, especially since there was really only two sex scenes. The characters were too instalove and slut shaming to really be characters I could connect with. It felt really rushed. Marriages within a few days of meeting and stuff like that. The best part for me was the first sex scene. It is so rare that a male character is allowed to be vulnerable in that way. I really hate how it was blown off for a while and then just pushed away as a “well I am that attracted to you” instead of just being allowed to exist as it was and actually have some emotion. I hated how there were multiple talks about taking it slow and then within a few days of that it was about not taking birth control so there could be three or four kids. That is not slow.
The author also relies on stereotypes of Italian mobsters are the basis for the plot. The plot was never even really explored. It was just “well this happened” in the first few pages and very little else was exposed throughout the book. It was wrapped up so easily that it really wasn’t a plot, despite it being the main driving forced of one of the characters. Another plot that wasn’t fully explored was the drug abuse plot. It felt thrown in at the last minute.
I wanted to love this book, it had the right plot elements for me to easily overlook some huge issues and still love it, but it fell short. It read as a first draft instead of a full story. There needed to either be some plots removed or they needed to actually be fleshed out to really have a strong story. It was not the worst cowboy romance I read despite all of this. There was strong focus on condoms and there was even the word prophylactic in the sex scene which I was amused by. The mother character was wonderful. There were cute elements, but they were overshadowed by a plot that was just mishandled. I would give Daniels another shot to see if she has improved in her plot handling because I can see she has the ideas that would make for a strong romance, but just didn’t quite get them fully on paper in this one.
2 out of 5 stars. I would maybe recommend this book.
You can buy the book here.