Best friend’s older brother? Yessssss!
Widowed rancher Cole Forrester is all about running his family’s ranch and guarding his heart. The last thing he’s looking for is love, but when his little sister can’t make it home to handle some of her wedding details, he’s forced to entertain the event planner, Melanie Simms.
Melanie is everything he’s not even remotely interested in: she’s high-society, complicated, and high maintenance. But when he’s stranded with her at his remote cabin in the Colorado mountains, he realizes he’s seriously underestimated her. She’s hiding something about her past from him, but despite everything, he finds himself falling for the last woman he ever expected, and the first woman to make him want to give his heart and risk everything…
I loved this one. The best-friend’s-older-brother troupe (why did all my besties only have sisters? Why?) on its own can be so much fun, so Victoria James pretty much had me at that. But then add in the fact that Cole’s a widower and she manages to get him a new HEA without demonizing the first spouse? Win-win!
(Seriously, people. Why does every single widow/ widower in a romance have to have had an evil first spouse? Usually even when I think an author’s going in a different direction there, they suddenly find out before the novel’s end that he/ she did something awful and it is only just coming to light now. This seriously drives me crazy. Why can’t a romance hero or heroine be happy twice? You’d think of all genres, romance would be the place where this happens all the time, but let me assure you, this is not the case.)
Okay, mini-rant over. For now. Victoria James didn’t commit my pet peeve here, and that made me even happier than the fun troupe she choose. Thanks, Victoria! 🙂
Cole and Mel are both very likable characters, and their chemistry is positively sizzling. Mel has huge drama in her past that she hides fairly well until the very end–I was a bit worried at one point that she was overreacting to the situation when that past caused her to break it off with a cowboy (I know! A hot cowboy! Who keeps taking his shirt off! Crazy, right?) but when we do finally get more details, her reaction seemed justified. Cole still loves his wife and does all he can to honor her memory, but his moving on (after a very respectable five years) in done in a completely realistic and believable way.
The secondary characters are a lot of fun–I love the behind-the-scenes matchmaking machinations of Mrs. Harrison. She wasn’t at all subtle, but she was very sweet. And Gage is definitely going to make an awesome hero in a future book–he got major props from me for mentioning my current favorite TV show in a conversation with Cole:
“When the hell did you get to be an expert on this kind of thing?”
He took another swig from the bottle. “I know all about secrets and shit. Mrs. H and I watch Downton Abbey on Sunday nights.”
See? A future hero we can all get behind. He clearly has very discerning tastes.
Mel’s close friends in town–Kira and Piper–make brief appearances, and as soon as I heard the name of Kira’s pottery business, All Fired Up, it clicked into place for me. I remembered why the town of Passion Creek sounded so familiar–Kira was the heroine of Inara Scott’s Reforming the Playboy that I so enjoyed last January. Very cool connection! More than one author working on a series can keep the writing fresh, when done well. So far this one is on the right track for sure.
In a nutshell: a very well-done second chance/ best friend’s brother contemporary romance. (It completely makes me forget that the guy on the cover definitely isn’t Cole, no matter how hot it is.) I can’t wait to read more from this series and from this author. 4 stars/ A rating
I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
ABOUT VICTORIA JAMES
I always knew I wanted to be a writer and in grade five, I penned my first story, bound it (with staples) and a cardboard cover and did all the illustrations myself (if you’ve ever seen my drawings you’ll know how horrible they must have been. I still draw stick figures). Luckily, this book will never see the light of day again.
In high school I fell in love with historical romance and then contemporary romance. After graduating University with an English Literature degree, I married my own hero, pursued a degree in Interior Design and then opened my own business.
After the birth of our first child, I knew it was time to fulfill the dream of writing romantic fiction. I’m a hopeless romantic who is living my dream, penning happily-ever-after’s for my characters in between managing kids and the family business. Writing on a laptop in the middle of the country in a rambling old Victorian house would be ideal, but I’m quite content living in suburbia with my husband, our two young children, and very bad cat.