Chase Morgan high-tailed it away from ranching life as soon as possible. But running a successful technology company can’t erase the memories, or secrets, of his youth. Coming home to help his Grandma Ruth may finally put some ghosts to rest—if he can just get a certain smart, beautiful houseguest out of his business. But getting her out of his head is proving even more difficult…
Determined to save the Morgan ranch, historian January Mitchell has pinned her hopes on the surprisingly rugged, surprisingly likable, and exasperatingly stubborn Chase. Surely his love of this breathtaking, mysterious land runs deep enough that he’ll once again embrace his inner cowboy. Or maybe, despite both of their skittish hearts, she’ll have to find a way to get him back in the saddle…any which way she can.
Lately, I have been loving the whole cowboy thing and Kate Pearce certainly fed into my current reading obsession with the first book in her Morgan Ranch series, The Reluctant Cowboy.
Chase Morgan’s memories of home are very rarely pleasant. His mother and baby sister mysteriously disappeared when Chase was just a kid, his father drank himself into a stupor over the disappearance and when he was just sober enough to do so, left Chase and his three younger brothers without a look back. If it weren’t for Chase’s grandmother, Ruth Morgan, there would never be a need to return to Morgan Ranch. But, Ruth Morgan is a tiny little force to be reckoned with and when she wants Chase home, she knows how to make it happen.
With nothing more than a cryptic message about needing Chase to come home, Ruth hatches her plot to get Chase back where he belongs. Her secret weapon? January Mitchell, a young grad student looking to complete her graduate work while helping Ruth revive Morgan Ranch and reinvent it as a working ranch tourist stop. As an outsider looking in, January can see the appeal of Morgan Ranch and is fascinated by the site’s history. Her intentions are good and true, but convincing the uptight Chase Morgan of the validity of her plan is going to be one long and arduous uphill battle. Good thing she’s smart, persuasive, and attractive 🙂
January’s goals align perfectly with Ruth’s, revitalize the Morgan Ranch and expand on all it has to offer. Chase’s goals, at least in the beginning are markedly different from the two women currently in his life. Chase’s life is now in Silicon Valley where he is a wildly successful businessman. Chase knows what it takes to run a successful business and he has no interest in running a successful ranch. The long hours, the back-breaking work, and a place that evokes mostly painful memories aren’t what Chase sees in his future. What he does see is getting Ruth all squared away, ensuring she is cared for, and trying not to think about January naked and spread beneath him. Thoughts like that only suck him deeper into Ruth’s plan and Chase just isn’t sure he has any cowboy left in him.
To be sure, Chase’s only problem isn’t just a scheming granny and a hot newcomer. There’s also the issue of the reappearance of one of his younger brother, Blue, issues related to his missing father, mother, and baby sister, and the nagging feeling that his business partners are trying to push him out. Chase has more than a plateful of problems and the only person he finds who can soothe all his worries is his quasi-enemy, January. Staying away from January is the right thing to do as she comes with her own set of problems and issues, but Chase just can’t seem to make himself avoid her.
The Bottom Line: This is probably the most sexually tame book by Kate Pearce I have ever read, and you know what? It’s still a really good book! There’s a lot of meat to this story with January and her past, Chase and his entire family’s past, the current and future situation with the Morgan Ranch, and Chase’s future. There is so much struggle in this read and the very real need for several of the characters to let go of the past and focus on what could be, a very happy future. That struggle plays out across the read while alluding to the future of the series. The naughty bits are steamy, but as I mentioned above, not quite as steamy as what I’ve read from Kate Pearce in the past. What’s important to know is that naughty bits are appropriate to this read and to the characters and enhance the read rather than taking it over. This one is all about the characters with a solid and interesting plot, and enough secondary characters to continue the series for some time to come. YAY!!! More hot cowboys!!!!
Blue Morgan never thought he’d crave long days on horseback, working the cattle ranch where he grew up. But after a decade of getting shouted and shot at in the Marines, fresh air and hard work are just what he needs to settle his restless energy. Except no matter how hard he tries to focus, his mind wanders to the pretty, prickly new veterinarian instead.
There’s no denying the spark between Jenna McDonald and Blue. But with her job at risk and her own family’s expectations to wrangle, Jenna isn’t looking for another sparring partner. Blue needs her expertise on horses. And if she can help solve his mother’s disappearance, she’s willing to pitch in. But she’ll leave his ideas about how love should be scheduled to him. Jenna is tired of being told what she can’t have—and ready to reach for what she wants . . .
Blue Morgan is a man hardened by life and time. Since he was a child, he has blamed his older brother, Chase for many of his family’s problems. After a lifetime in the Marines, Blue has found many ways to temper his anger and he is finally ready to return home for good.
When Blue returns to the Morgan Ranch, he finds it undergoing a serious revitalization thanks to his brother, his soon-to-be sister-in-law, and his spitfire grandmother, Ruth. Since he was a child, Blue has loved the ranch and wants to see it become great again. One of his responsibilities, among many others, is to oversee the buying and care of the ranch’s horses which means he’s in close contact with the local vet, Jenna McDonald. The one local vet, of three, who really doesn’t like him.
Jenna McDonald has spent her life fighting. In the beginning, it was fighting against her feelings about being adopted, and as she’s grown up, it’s been fighting against her family’s wishes for her life and career choice, and currently, her fight is against the old-school locals who seem to think she can’t perform her job well as a veterinarian because she’s a woman. All she needs to make her life harder is the hot as hell Blue Morgan, who apparently falls on the side of the old-school locals. At least, that was her first impression, and sometimes, those impressions can be wrong.
In the weeks that follow that first impression, Jenna sees a whole new side of Blue Morgan, and damn it all if she doesn’t really like what she sees. Blue is strong, headstrong, sexy, loyal, and every time she needs him, he’s by her side. Blue also understands, if Jenna is to be the local vet, she must prove herself to all the good old boys and she can only do that by doing her job and doing it well. From Blue’s perspective, Jenna isn’t just good at her job, she’s excellent, but there are one or two rancher’s that seem to have it out for her and Blue quickly sees it as his duty to protect her. With the protection comes a closeness, admiration, and attraction that neither can deny. Before the two can get to an HEA, they’re going to have to survive Jenna’s family, secrets and surprises from Blue’s past, and one bat-sh*t crazy rancher who just doesn’t know when to stop.
The Bottom Line: The Morgan Ranch series got a lot more interesting with Blue’s story. With the ground work laid out in book one, The Reluctant Cowboy, Blue’s story hits the ground running and evolves. The Morgan family mystery of the missing mother and baby sister takes some fun twists and turns, Blue’s own past quite literally knocks on his front door, and Jenna’s own background comes in to play and threatens both she and Blue’s happiness together. There really is a great deal going on in this read and though it doesn’t exactly end in a cliffhanger, it is clear there is still much, much more to come in the Morgan Ranch series. After all, there are the twins who have yet to come home and take their place beside Chase, Blue, Ruth, Jenna, and January. Ooooh, I can’t wait to see what Kate Pearce does with twins 🙂