Review: A Cowboy for Keeps by Laura Drake (2020)

Chestnut Creek #3

Heat Factor: It’s not like a bell pepper but I certainly wouldn’t call it a ghost pepper either.

Character Chemistry: It’s a slow dance with some initial foot stomping.

Plot: Lorelei West and Reese St. James learn their respective siblings died in a car accident leaving behind a surprise baby. Together they have to figure out how to navigate both their new responsibility and their budding feelings for one another.

Overall: It’s a classic “poor woman saved by rich guy” type situation with a lot of curveballs.

Secret Baby?? Surprise parenthood?? Yes, this small-town contemporary western has both. When Lorelei West and Reese St. James lose their respective siblings in a car wreck, they’re both shocked to discover the two tragic love birds left behind a beautiful baby girl. Lorelei has very little to offer in terms of resources–she’s caring for her mother who has dementia with the help of her close friends, and manages a cafe in a small and somewhat dying town in New Mexico. Reese St. James seems to have it all as a wealthy rancher, but is lonely and hurting. Both are desperate to be part of their niece’s life.

As you can imagine, Lorelei is terrified Reese will swoop in and take the baby from her. (And sometimes, honestly, it felt like Lorelei was a bit ridiculous and I kind of felt like Reese would have been the more stable parent? But, whatever.) Trust between the two is a slow and grinding process, and there were more than a few times I got a little frustrated by Lorelei’s overblown pride and Reese’s bungling attempts to insert himself into their lives. Lorelei is somewhat emotionally crippled by something relatively minor that happened when she was very young, and it made her seem a bit…bitter and immature? Reese made more sense because he didn’t have a lot of experience with expressing himself emotionally and was used to handling things as a high-falutin’ oil man. So the big conflict was a little frustrating because I felt like Lorelei was sometimes a bit irrationally cruel and distrustful of Reese after they’d worked so hard to build a healthy relationship with such high stakes.

However!! I was absolutely delighted to see a small town represented so accurately. It was small and struggling but it was full of strong characters and traditions and I could see it so clearly in my mind. It was really well done, and the town had such a personality that any reservations I had about the characters being difficult were kind of washed away. I’d definitely read more of the series!

I voluntarily read and reviewed a complimentary copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. We disclose this in accordance with 16 CFR §255.

Buy Now: Amazon | Bookshop

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