Keep Me, Cowboy by Nicole Helm 2015
Jess Clark fell in love with Cole McArthur when she was 16 but he left the town of Marietta and her without a word of explanation, breaking her heart. Dr. McArthur paid for her college education to become a nurse, and although she hasn’t received the love she so desperately wanted from him or his family, she feels obligated to find Cole and tell him his father has MS.
She tracks Cole to the rodeo where he’s a cowboy who competes successfully on the circuit. He doesn’t want to see his father, brother Carter or sister, Lina, all doctors. She still loves him and he’s still attracted to her but he refuses to come home.
She returns to the house she is renting from the McArthur family, and Cole shows up at her doorstep. He sleeps in the spare room but she cooks for him and longs for a real family.
Jess came from a broken home, an abusive father, and has been looking for her brother Dean since he ran away. One of the reasons Cole left was so Jess would have the money to find her brother.
Cole visits his father at his office where Jess works as his assistant even though she likes working in the hospital more. She’s always been afraid to speak up and share her true feelings because she doesn’t want to lose what little she has. Dr. McArthur fires Jess on the spot for betraying him and telling Cole about his MS. He hasn’t even told his wife. She’s heartbroken that he can’t treat her like family.
The story deals with the dysfunctional family and the dysfunctional relationship between Cole and Jess which gives it more depth than a sweet romance.
Cranberry’s Bluff by Deborah Garner
This story could be considered a cozy mystery but there is no dead body. Garner weaves an interesting and complex story about a bank robbery involving innocent Molly Elliott.
Molly is making a deposit at the bank for her boss in Florida when a women, bearing a striking resemblance to her, robs the bank and runs out. After recovering from the initial shock, Molly walks to work but is arrested. Everyone thinks she robbed the bank according to the news even though the police discover their error and let her go. Then she begins receiving threatening notes saying they know she took the money. The police can’t figure out who is sending the messages or who searched her apartment.
It’s all too much for Molly who inherits a Cranberry Cottage bed and breakfast across the country in Oregon. She screens customers and seems to have her life under control again until one night when five guests arrive.
The honeymoon couple Dan and Susie, the shopper Sadie, a quiet loner Charlie and a handsome writer Bryce turn out not to be who they say they are.
Garner shows talent releasing the information slowly to reveal the suspects, motives, and plots to find the money and blame Molly for the crime. Some readers may guess some things early on, but she holds back a few surprises for the ending. This is a great read for those who like to solve mysteries in a cozy setting.
A Mail-Order Heart by Janelle Daniels
This is the second Mail-Order bride story I bought, and a lawman married both of them. This one has a dramatic kidnapping and chase in it unlike the other, tamer story. There was nothing wrong with the story, but I would have liked the women and especially Clara to face more realistic hardships. Daniels introduced Simon as a bad guy and didn’t use him. Maybe he returns in a later book since this is a series. I think Daniels is ambitious having nine mail-order brides, especially if each woman has her own story.
Clara Stewart arrives in the mining town of Promise Creek, Montana to marry Ivan only to find out he has eight other women he’s promised to marry, and Ivan is dead. Sheriff Sawyer Morrison and Clara butt heads but also have a strong attraction to each other.
Sawyer thinks as sheriff he isn’t entitled to a bride, and Clara takes charge of the women and is determined to make the best of the situation. There are plenty of men who are looking for wives, but the women want to choose. Mayor Bracken tells them Ivan has left them his large house and gold mine, but they all have to agree to stay. Clara convinces them its best. The women’s different personalities clash but Clara takes the brunt of the problems.
Sawyer and Clara are in the mine when it collapses but find another way out. Someone caused the cave-in. They spread the rumor there is gold in the mine only their lie is the truth and leads to trouble.
To Catch a Spinster by Megan Bryce
In most Regency novels, the man seduces the innocent woman and is forced to marry her. This is a regency novel that turns the genre on its head with a woman more interested in losing her virginity than keeping it and refuses a proposal of marriage afterwards.
Olivia is 27 years old with five married sisters. She has accepted her lot in life as a spinster but would like to experience being courted and bedded at least once and live on the memories. She chooses Nathaniel Jenkins, 39, who is being henpecked by his mother to wed. He is not interested in the young girls dressed in orange.
Olivia asks her brother-in-law to introduce her to Nathaniel and she offers to pay him to court her and bed her. Nathaniel, being a gentleman, refuses but is intrigued by Olivia. They are well-matched and likable to the reader. As he gets to know her, he changes his mind and after a night of lovemaking, he proposals.
Olivia, much to his surprise, refuses him. The families on both sides try to change Olivia’s mind through most of the book. She is afraid they will fall out of love like her parents and other couples she has known.
I enjoyed the writing and the twist about Olivia being the seductress but the plot was too simple. I expected more to happen. But for writers, this is an excellent example of taking an idea and adding to it. So much more could happen to the heroine in your version with similar circumstances. It’s all in the telling, after all.