One determined, hell-on-wheels cowgirl. One equally determined, sexier-than-hell cowboy. One innocent baby, who suddenly takes center stage and everybody’s priorities are suddenly up for grabs.
With a young baby dropped in his lap, bronc rider Trace Coleman’s world is turned upside down. Suddenly, Gemma O’Donnell, his stiffest competition on the rodeo scene, is now the one person who can help him. She’s already resisting his sexy smile and even sexier swagger, but she can’t resist a baby. When it comes down to it, only one can win, but is winning more important than love and family?
I have to admit right up front that I expected the “baby” that is captured in this novel’s title to be front and center throughout the story. Such is not the case. Now that is not to say that this isn’t a really cute and romantic story between two saddle bronc riders who are both bent on capturing the title and are neck and neck in the competition as they travel from rodeo to rodeo event. Yet the story is really centered on the double track this particular relationship takes as Gemma and Trace have to deal with the hell-bent-for-leather determination both exude as they travel toward the finals while at the same time dealing with the overwhelming sexual attraction that has them both in its clutches.
Gemma is the sister of the hero in the first book in this series and a part of a large and traditional family who live in Ringgold, Texas and who are all feisty and personable and each one unique. Yet even Gemma’s love for saddle bronc riding is a bit over the top even for this family. Yet they support her and cheer her on. She has leased out her beauty shop for a year so that she can live out this dream. For Trace, however, gaining the saddle bronc riding title means that he can fulfill his commitment to his uncle to buy a ranch he has always wanted, a ranch he could have for nothing as an inheritance. But that isn’t Trace’s way–he knows his uncle needs the money and he is determined to pay his own way.
What begins as a hot and sizzling sexual affair does indeed begin to deepen into more, something more that both Gemma and Trace are reluctant to name. It is only as they are visiting back home with their families during a break in the rodeo schedule that they each face the possibility that they mean more to one another than hot bodies tied up between the sheets. This is when the baby appear–the result of a weekend Trace spent with a woman who left his life as mysteriously and quickly as she appeared. And what is even more disturbing to Trace is the fact that he is not one of those cowboys that takes advantage of the groupies who crowd around every rodeo participant after each performance. Now what was he going to do?
This story has a bit of a different feel that some of the others in this series and it is another indication that Ms Brown manages to bring big chunks of creativity into the creation of each of her novels, even though the characters are connected by family relationship to someone in previous books. If you have been following this series you know that the heroines are all very different and are involved in very different life pursuits. Yet all have come to a place in their lives where a life partner becomes both a joy and a change in direction for each of them. The reader of this novel will wonder right up to the very end who wins the championship and they will also wait almost to the end to find out how Trace and Gemma will resolve their personal issues. Gemma’s momma is also a source of pressure in that she is insisting that Gemma stay close to home when the rodeo cycle ends. Now how is she going to satisfy her deep love and loyalty for her family and find a way to keep Trace in her life? The story has a stronger sense of moving through time than have any of this series’ novels have so far, at least that was my take. Yet again I must add that the different settings for each of her stories, the edgy and very feisty nature of all her characters, especially the women, are just a couple of the factors that keep me really enjoying this author’s style as well as the content of these novels.
This story is very much focused on the day to day lifestyle of rodeo participants, perhaps more than in any other cowboy/Western romance series I have read recently except for one of Lorelei James’ recent novels. Yet it is really about how people manage their emotions, how they manage their personal lives and futures while dealing with the stresses of a very different way of living that is very hard on individuals, relationships, and families. It is transient and those who get deeply involved really find themselves encapsulated in that world so living what many of us would consider “normal” is not always easy. Trace and Gemma have to walk a very fine line together and it is that tension along with their sexual attraction that keeps readers moving forward from page to page. I found it very entertaining, a beautifully written novel, very good use of language that was enhanced by good editing. Just a terrific read and one that deserves to be enjoyed by those who like a really good cowboy romance.
I give it a rating of 4.25 out of 5
You can read more from Judith at Dr J’s Book Place.