Reviewed by Mandi
Favorite Quote: “Are you going to Pretty Woman rancher me?”
Mel Shaw loves her Montana ranch – she just doesn’t love her current circumstances. The ranch needs a lot of work, and her brother and father are not helpful. Her brother drinks too much and has a host of other problems. Her father fell off his horse a few years ago, and is now paralyzed from the waist down. His spirit is broken and he rarely leaves his bedroom. With her mother leaving the family when Mel was quite young, it’s up to her now to keep the ranch going. She is tired and overwhelmed. When a NHL (hockey) star moves into his grandparent’s ramshackle neighboring ranch and offers Mel $20,000 to teach him how to be a rancher, she desperately needs the money so agrees to be his consultant.
Dan’s NHL career is about over. After two losses in the champion Stanley Cup game, and some whispers of cheating, Dan is done. His grandparents have neglected their ranch for years, and Dan thinks a summer in Montana might be just what he needs. He doesn’t expect “Mel” to be a gorgeous country lady – and it takes him a bit to get used to her. Mel has zero time for his charms or flirtations, but Dan gets a glimpse of the softer side in her, and he starts to fall hard. He also decides to turn his ranch into a llama ranch, which I highly approve of.
Mel is a very prickly heroine. I’m not always a fan of this type of heroine – but she worked for me in this book. Partly because her situation in life fully supports her being this touchy. She is so exhausted and overwhelmed with the ranch, she is at her limit.
“I could use a sleep-in every damn day for the rest of my damn life, but I do not have that luxury, and, this summer, neither do you.” She slammed a hand onto the counter next to the coffeepot. “You could at least have coffee going at this point.”
“Well, you’re pleasant this morning,” he muttered.
She is also so tightly strung that the idea of letting go just an inch, would destroy her. Her demeanor and the way she handles her life and Dan are very consistent in this book as well. Even in bed, she can’t relax and enjoy herself at first – it’s just not in her nature. The author does a nice job of keeping Mel true to herself. Her brother is a big pain in the ass, her father has given up on life – and Mel is just trying to keep everyone alive and fed.
Dan has a lot of patience. He knows Mel’s hard-ass attitude is because she has a lot of responsibility. He tries to make jokes and keep things light – and sometimes he can get a quick smile out of her.
He’d probably never spent so much time wondering about someone before. At least someone who wasn’t himself or an opponent on the ice. But Mel was like no one he’d ever known.
He starts to realize he enjoys this life in Montana. He finds a surprise llama on his property and kind of falls in love. (There was definitely some giggling with the llama). He really doesn’t know what he is doing, but he likes to learn. While hockey doesn’t play a huge part in this book, Dan is famous in the hockey world and that is portrayed well in the book.
Their romance is sexy and starts as them just letting off steam, but eventually they realize what they have is much more deep. I like how their romance plays out.
“Do you ever get tired of feeling like life keeps beating you over the head?” she asked into the silence of the car.
“Do you want to go have sex and pretend it’s not hard?”
God, he wanted to do that. So he went with a joke. “Well, something will be hard.”
A good start to a new series for sure.