Rating: 4.25 stars
Buy Link:
Amazon | iBooks | Amazon UK
Length: Novel

 

Dr. Patrick Kelly is a busy orthopedic surgeon whose husband died three years ago, leaving him widowed with two young children and a hobby ranch he has no idea how to run. Patrick has been leaning on the good will of neighbors, but those folks have their own land to work, and he needs a full-time ranch manager. So, he hires Calen Warren through the Cowboy Wanted website to be his foreman and hand.

Caleb is a former rodeo hotshot, and he knows what needs doing on the Parker Ranch because he grew up there. The land belonged to his maternal grandparents and Patrick sent money to a caretaker to keep it running while he was rodeoing. Unfortunately, that person swindled him and left his grandparents destitute. The ranch was sold to settle debt and Caleb’s bid wasn’t high enough. He figures Patrick won’t want it for much longer, and being on-site he’ll have an inside track when it goes up for sale again. Except, well, Patrick is an awesome dad, and his kids just love the ranch. They treat Caleb like one of the family, which goes a long way toward winning Caleb’s heart. They’ve all poured so much time and love into the ranch, Caleb feels ashamed at his underhanded intentions, though he always did his foreman job to the best of his abilities. Caleb’s crazy for the kids, who are both so sweet and agreeable. Besides that, Patrick is a stunner, though also lonely and heartbroken for the man he’d loved so much.

Their connections grow closer when the nanny has to leave town to help care for an ailing parent, and Caleb convinces Patrick to allow him to assist more with the home duties to pick up the slack. Their attraction is a steady burn, though it takes time to kindle. Caleb has a lot of guilt regarding his initial goals to gain the ranch, and Patrick’s grief is strong. Neither man wants anything casual, because their lives are too entwined over the ranch and the relationships that exist with the children, so they take their time getting physical. Beyond that, Patrick’s job is taking over his life plans, and he needs to set some boundaries to ensure he can be a good father–and perhaps once again a good partner too.

This is a sweet, low-angst, cowboy romance between mature partners who need a steady hand. Caleb seems like he could be a jerk, but he’s a decent guy who finds himself bowled over by the people he’d hoped to hoodwink. He always acts on behalf of Patrick, never trying to con him, and he confesses his relationship to the previous landowners before he and Patrick get too invested personally. I loved how generous Patrick is, and how his kids are such a focus. He makes quick decisions based on the belief that everything will work out, and that kind of optimism is refreshing and attractive to Caleb.

This story ended happily, so I expect to only catch Patrick and Caleb as side characters in future stories of the Cowboy Wanted series. I am intrigued by the series concept of matching cowboys to jobs and look forward to seeing how that develops in further books. It seems a pretty loose framework, so the next story could go anywhere, though this Aspen locale was a fun one to experience. If you like cowboy romances, especially with children, you’d enjoy this one.

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