Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Cowboy's Valentine - Donna Alward (HAR #1535 - Feb 2015)

Series: Crooked Valley Ranch (Book 2)


Coming home is hard enough without ranch manager Quinn Solomon making Lacey Duggan feel like an unwanted guest. She's only here until she figures out what to do with her one-third ownership of Crooked Valley. But Quinn's irresistible daughter is giving Lacey ideas about being part of a family. And though they don't even like each other, Lacey's having crazier notions about the widowed single dad.

Does Lacey think she can waltz in and turn Quinn's life upside down…only to leave again? The pretty accountant knows nothing about running a ranch, yet she's making the Montana homestead feel like a home. Quinn isn't looking for love again. Until a woman who's all heart and a determined little girl help one lovestruck cowboy see the light.

Very good story. Lacey has returned to Crooked Valley Ranch to try to get her life back together. She lost her job because of budget cuts and her husband to divorce. She's part owner of the ranch, but she really doesn't want anything to do with it. She'd be just as happy if they sold it, but her older brother has married and settled there and wants to try to make a go of it. To fulfill her grandfather's terms of the will, she and both her brothers must agree and also spend time on the ranch. Ranch manager Quinn has made no secret of the fact that he thinks she is selfish in her intentions about the ranch.

Quinn is a widowed father of a four year old girl. His daughter and his job are the most important things in his life. He's still dealing with his grief and trying to make a stable home for Amber. Having Lacey around is stirring up feelings he's not ready for.

Quinn and Lacey strike sparks from each other from the beginning. Though they claim they don't like each other, it's pretty obvious that there's a strong attraction and that their antagonism is more a way to resist it. When a fire at his house has Quinn and Amber moving into the ranch house with Lacey those barriers start to crumble. First it was little Amber making Lacey feel like she was part of a family and Quinn's antagonism fading away as they got to know each other. I loved all the little things they did together. Quinn has been mourning his late wife for a long time, but he starts to get the sense that he's ready to move on. He didn't expect it to be Lacey that brought him to that point. 

Lacey had come to the ranch expecting to only stay for awhile, until she got a new job and could leave. She doesn't want to be tied to the ranch. But the longer she stays, the more comfortable she is there. She also finds ways to satisfy her need to work. But she has some deep seated issues that prevent her from seeing any way that something can come of the attraction between her and Quinn. I liked the way that they eventually sat down and discussed what was happening between them, but got a bit frustrated with Lacey's fixation on her problem. It was great to see Quinn's feelings stay strong and true even as she was trying to push him away "for his own good". I liked that he didn't push her, but tried to give her the time she needed to see the truth. I liked how her friend showed her how she was expecting trouble where there didn't need to be. There was no miracle at the end to fix everything, just an admission that it was something that they would have to deal with, but if they were together they could do it. The end was really sweet and romantic.

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