Published in 2009 by Silhouette Books.
This is my September selection for the #TBRChallenge hosted by Wendy the Super Librarian. This month's theme is 'Western' and well.. I thought this was a western based on the title and cowboy hat on the cover, but it's actually a contemporary romance with no cowboys or even a ranch really. Well, the main character's brother runs a ranch but the story doesn't have anything to do with the ranch or ranch life at all.
After a very long dry spell of no customers, someone finally shows up to rent a room from Ashley ... and it's none other than Jack McCall. Jack actually arrives at her door in an ambulance after having been injected by a lethal toxin on a dangerous and secret assignment, but determined to recover in Stone Creek where he knew he'd find Ashley. Jack remains pretty secretive about his job and why he's walked out on Ashely in the past, but he keeps no secrets about how he loves her, 'always have, always will.' Ashely, in turn, has a soft spot for Jack and takes him into her bed and breakfast and into her bed without any hesitation. Her protective siblings want her to be happy, but no one seems to be thrilled with Jack showing up again, and rightly so if you ask me.
Jack's work quickly gets in the way of any progress between Jack and Ashley, and complicating things for everyone. Eventually these two get together and get their happily ever after but it sure did take a lot of let downs, heartaches and half baked excuses before they got there.
The premise of this story is very appealing--I really wanted to see Ashley and Jack solidify their love for each other and plan for a future together, but I felt none of that happened even though they did get their happily ever after by the end of the book. I understand the Silhouette line produces relatively shorter stories, so there's only so much page time for the characters, but still, I felt everything in Ashely and Jack's story was rushed. The worst part, I think, is that they never really discussed how hurtful it was every time Jack left Ashley for months and years at a time without warning, explanations or even an 'I love you' note. After being treated that way twice over several years, Ashley takes Jack back into her bed and into her heart so easily that she comes across reckless and even desperate. Although as I write this I wonder that perhaps Ashley takes Jack back into her heart and bed so quickly because she wants to experience something--anything close to a happy, loving life before someone else decides otherwise on her behalf! Why not forgive Jack for walking out on her twice before and take what she can from him while she can when her siblings and even Jack himself seem to make all the decisions in this book, know 'what's best for Ashley' and leave her practically a puppet in her own love story.
Overall this story is cute, but both Jack and Ashely's family were way too controlling over Ashley's life and way too quick to make decisions for her. Neither party really ever gave her the chance to express how she felt or what she wanted. On the other hand, Ashley was too soft hearted and forgiving when it came Jack and she really deserved better from him even right to the end. So a few too many disappointments in this one for me to strongly recommend it to other readers, unless you are a fan of the Stone Creek series.
It was okay, so 2 out of 3 stars on goodreads.
Do you read western romances?
I have very, very few western romances on my shelves. If you had to recommend just one book to me, what would it be?