by Joan Kilby
She’ll do anything to get him to see her as a woman…
Feisty, fearless Ellie McFarlane has tried forever to get cattle station manager, Rick Drummond, to notice she’s not another cowhand. So when her gal pals talk her into glamming up for an Outback Bachelor and Spinster ball she’s eager to prove she’s all woman, all the time, and leave her boneheaded cowboy eating dust.
Sexy wrangler Rick is crazy about Ellie just as she is but her father – his boss – told him long ago that his daughter was off limits. Even though she’s all grown up now, Rick still feels it’s his job is to protect her, not seduce her. Plus, he’s finally got an opportunity to buy back his family farm, which means moving far away.
Ellie’s transformation from Cinder-Ellie to belle of the ball has Rick’s jaw dropping – and all the other cowboys falling at her feet. Ellie tries to revel in her new-found sex-pot status but without Rick it’s a hollow victory. Has Rick left it too late to claim the only woman he’ll ever truly love….
I love friends-to-lovers stories, especially when combined with a touch of the unrequited on one or both sides, so this one looked like a win-win. Plus, already having a past will make the “it all happened in a weekend” part that much more plausible. Throw in there the idea of three lifelong friends heading off for a weekend of fun and double dares out on the Outback? At a “ball” in the middle of nowhere? Now it’s even better!
I loved the three friends, Ellie, Jen, and Beth–this is going to be a fun series to read. (All group Skype calls should involve alcohol. I wonder if my graduate school project groups would go for that idea? Must remember to ask. ;)) I loved, loved, LOVED Rick–the ranch station manager with a tragic past who’s driven to do better than his dad did–AND who’s been warned off of the boss’s daughter since day one.
But of course he’s drawn to her like no one’s business, and vice versa.
Saw that coming, right?
The ending was adorable–a little rushed, but again the whole “with a past” part made it easier to swallow.
What drove me a little bonkers, though, was the heroine’s seeming need to completely misunderstand every. Single. Thing the hero said or did. Seriously–things would finally appear to be good between them, all is cuteness and light, then bam! she decides that he didn’t mean it or his feelings are completely opposite of what they appeared to be thirty seconds ago, or…well, you get the idea. Over and over and over again she decided that he meant something other than what he actually did, got mad, and took off in a huff. Frustrating.
To be fair, Rick definitely had his share of clueless moments, but he makes up for them in the end–and it never felt as willful as Ellie’s did.
Still–all’s well that ends well; and I do like the two of them together, when they finally manage to make it stick.
On to book two!
Rating: 3 1/2 stars / C+
I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.