Series: Silver Creek #1
Published by Ballantine on March 23, 2013
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Western Romance
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Oldest son Ward Knowles feels the sprawling California ranch in his blood. And now that the family business has expanded to include a popular resort, he’s working harder than ever. Silver Creek is his legacy and his life, which is fine for the ruggedly sexy ladies’ man and committed bachelor. Love and trust don’t come easily for Ward since he lost his heart to a gold digger—until he meets a shy, unpretentious beauty whose sweet grace is about to turn his jaded heart into a hungry one.
Tess Casari has found sanctuary at Silver Creek, working as an assistant to Ward’s mother, Adele. Grateful for her busy new life running the ranch’s spa and resort, Tess can escape the heartbreak, humiliation, and secret shame of her failed marriage. The last thing she needs is temptation—especially from a man who reminds her so much of the husband who shattered her faith in love. But passion and destiny are about to change the rules for two people who have stopped believing in the healing power of love.
Events planner Tess Casari packs up all of her belongings and heads out west to California (from Queens) to start anew following the painful demise of her marriage and later, her husband’s death. She ends up at the Silver Creek Ranch (sort of an eeny-meeny-miney-mo action with a map). Ward Knowles, the oldest son of the family owning the guest ranch, is the first person she meets and it definitely wasn’t insta-love.
The heart of the story
Tess is hired on by Ward’s mother as her personal assistant and later the events planner for the ranch. She thinks he’s arrogant (he is a bit) and he thinks she’s too much the city girl (she is). Publicly they trade barbs but privately they acknowledge their attraction. Both think they want a casual relationship (he was seriously burned) with no strings attached.
What works about this story
Everyone on that ranch works very hard and Ward is a true cowboy…wrangling cattle, working horses and delivering baby lambs. He always planned to work on Tess and was pretty honest about it. It took time and the development of the relationship is expertly woven into every aspect of the story. I loved both of these characters and their romance. The conflicts they faced related to their pasts, including a nasty ex-fiancée who added some real spice. Part of the charm was experienced through Tess’s indoctrination to ranch life, capped off when she transitions from high heels to her first fancy cowboy boots!
The bottom line
Despite its slow start, this story was pretty wonderful. Ward is delicious, representing cowboys really well. Tess is no slouch either and shows her skills in adapting with ease from life in the city to that on a ranch. The romance develops nicely without a lot of angst or silly conflicts and when it ramps up…oh, my. You’ll learn a lot about how a guest ranch works, too.