by Kaki Warner
Brides of Rough Creek - Book 1
Release Date: July 7, 2020
Reviewed by PJ
Raney is outraged when she learns her mother hired an ex-con. Raney has worked hard for the ranch, sacrificing her personal life for the dream of building on her family's legacy. But as Dalton breaks down every misconception and even wins the good opinion of her sisters, Raney is forced to rethink her stance--and finally free herself to explore the heart-pounding tension that simmers between them.
I'm a huge fan of Kaki Warner's historical western romances so I was intrigued when I heard she was transitioning to contemporary. Rough Creek is her first contemporary romance and launches her Brides of Rough Creek series. It has the same small-town, western flavor, and character-driven story, with well-placed humor and emotion, plus a slow-burn romance, that made her historical novels so appealing.
As with many books that launch a new series, there are several characters who are introduced in this one, but not so many that I found it confusing or distracting. My favorite was Dalton. I adored this man. He's sweet, kind, caring, funny, honorable, and sexy as hell. Raney was more of an acquired taste. She's a complex character, as is typical of many of Warner's characters, with baggage that's made her wary of trusting. Not that I blamed her; she had good reason for feeling that way. I enjoyed the flirty banter between her and Dalton and the time Warner gave them to get to know one another but I grew frustrated with her judgmental attitude. Dalton showed her in every possible way that she could trust him yet she held him at bay, flip flopping for months, almost as if she was looking for reasons to not trust him. In the end, I was happy with their relationship because Dalton was happy, and I really do think Raney finally realized what she had been doing and was ready to drop her barriers and trust in love. I'm hopeful, though, that we'll see more of them in future books in the series, as an open, functioning couple, with a deepening bond, and less judgment, and more trust, on Raney's part.
Family, horses, and ranch life play a big part in this book with interesting glimpses into cutting horses, their training, and competitions. The Whitcomb sisters and their mother, owners of the ranch (but not all living there), are complex women living very different lives. I'm curious to find out what's ahead for each of them. I'm certain Coralee, the sisters' widowed 60-year-old mother, a real spitfire, will be helping each of them along to a happily ever after. I wonder if the sisters will do the same for their mama?
I'm not sure how many books are planned for the series or which characters have one in their future but, with Warner's name on the cover, I'll be back for them all.
Are you a fan of western romance? Any recommendations?
Have you read any of Kaki Warner's historical romances?
Have you ever attended - or competed in - a rodeo or cutting horse competition?