Kiss Me Now, Cowboy
by Dylann Crush
Cowboys in Paradise - Book 1
Release Date: August 23, 2022
Reviewed by PJ
Forzas aren't quitters. That's the motto professional bull rider Justin Forza's dad has drilled into his head since the first time he climbed into the bucking chute. After a serious injury, doctor’s orders are to stay out of the arena. But if Justin can win one more championship, he’ll be able to continue the family legacy, set himself up for life, and finally confess his love to his best friend Emmeline.
Emmeline Porter lives by one rule: never date a bull rider. She’s seen the damage a bad ride can cause. As a last resort to stop Justin from returning to the rodeo circuit, she convinces him to take a trip to Paradise Island, a tropical haven off the coast of Texas. She hopes cutting Justin off from the pressure his dad is laying on him will give her best friend the clarity he needs to walk away for good.
The close quarters and island adventures put their friendship to the test, and it’s not long before real feelings surface and threaten to sweep them both away.
This was my first book by Dylann Crush and one that I enjoyed. I'm partial to the friends-to-lovers trope and Crush navigated it well. I liked the comfort level between Justin and Emmeline, the familiarity, history, and solid foundation of a lifelong friendship. The transition from friends to lovers may seem sudden in the context of this story but the fact that it was actually years in the making kept it realistic for me. Sometimes, friends are meant to be only friends but there are other situations where deeper feelings that have been simmering for years can suddenly vault to the surface unexpectedly. Knowing this from personal experience, I was able to buy into Emmeline's sudden "awakening" with full conviction. It also makes her initial conflicting feelings and "misunderstanding" about Justin's career plans easier to understand. Both she and Justin need to do some growing before they can claim their HEA. Happily, the author gives them the opportunity to do just that.
Though there are some weighty topics involving both Emmeline's and Justin's families, Crush keeps the story itself from being weighted down. There's emotional depth, yes, but also well-placed humor to keep things balanced along with sizzling chemistry. And then there's Rocky. Who knew a class rock could have so much personality and end up being one of my favorite "characters" in the book?
Justin and Emmeline have found their happy ending but their other two best friends, Knox and Decker are still evolving. Here's hoping their stories will be featured in the next two books of Cowboys in Paradise. I'm already invested and will definitely be returning for the rest of the series.
Do you enjoy friends-to-lovers romances?
Do you have a favorite romance trope?
Have you ever been charmed by a non-human character in a romance?
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