Turning his back on his American father’s business empire was the smartest decision Rio Martinez ever made. Now, after a high-flying career on the rodeo circuit, the world champion bull rider is ready for a change of pace. A summer hiatus working the Morgan brothers’ California ranch turns into the hope of forever when Rio meets a beautiful French baker who makes him realize what’s missing from his restless life. After her husband abandoned her, Yvonne Payet threw herself into running the café that was her dream. In the welcoming community of Morgantown, she found a place to call home. She cherishes her hard-won independence, and doesn’t need another handsome heartbreaker calling the shots. But Rio isn’t just the sexiest, most arrogant cowboy she ever met—he’s got great ideas for expanding her business. With a reality TV show on the horizon and her ex demanding a second chance, Yvonne has to decide which sunset she wants to ride off into . . .
Source: NetGalley and Purchase My Rating: 5/5 stars
I think, as long-time readers, we often feel compelled to just keep reading. That is, we keep plugging away at a series, even when it begins to fail, because we have read everything else in the series and feel we “should” keep going. Fortunately, Kate Pearce has managed to keep me totally engaged with her Morgan Ranch series, and I only feel compelled to keep going because the series is still incredibly strong and fresh!
For the first time since the series launched, Pearce has focused her attention on two characters who are not Morgans, but Morgan adjacent. Yvonne, local coffee and pastry shop owner, has been a long-standing secondary character in the series, while Rio Martinez, friend to the twins, is a new addition to the cast. Both are completely delightful characters who only add to the richness and overall enjoyment of the series.
Yvonne has long been a part of life in Morgantown. As the only coffee and pastry shop in town, she has the market cornered. Yvonne also has amazing food which has allowed her to create strong ties in the community and make some truly good friends. She is a regular at the Morgan dinner table and isn’t at all surprised to see a new addition to the group one Sunday afternoon. Rio Martinez is certainly easy on the eyes, but thanks to a wretched ex-husband, Yvonne isn’t interested in anything beyond the superficial. A casual fling? Sure! But, there certainly won’t be any discussions of long-term, commitment, or happily ever after. Yvonne is convinced that ship has sailed for her, and a pretty bull rider isn’t going to change her mind.
Rio Martinez isn’t opposed to long-term and commitment, but his current commitments mean he can only be at the ranch and in Morgantown for a short amount of time. Not only is Rio a professional bull rider, he’s also the reigning champion; once the season begins, Rio will be back on the road defending his title. Yvonne, however, is a woman who can make a man think twice about his life choices which is how Rio finds himself in hot pursuit of the one woman who has skittish written all over her.
What starts as a friendship with intense attraction quickly morphs into a steamy, no strings attached affair between Yvonne and Rio. Between the sheets, Rio and Yvonne are smokin’ hot, but beyond that, they seem to have a great deal of difficulty expressing what they really want from the other. Between fear, stubbornness, and too many outside distractions, Yvonne and Rio have a truly awful time just being together. Yvonne has a nasty ex who has waltzed back into her life and an incredible business opportunity that is sucking up brain space. Rio has a truly wretched father who wants Rio to come back into the family fold which leaves Rio emotionally raw and unsteady. Between Yvonne and Rio, tensions of all kinds run high and if they don’t learn to trust, there will never be a happy ending for either of them.
The Bottom Line: Seriously, y’all, I need to move to Morgantown and find me a hot cowboy since they all seem to live there 😊 Aside from being hot and sexy, the men of Morgantown are also kind, generous, caring, intelligent creatures who adore the women brought into their lives. Morgantown isn’t just a town named after a wealthy family, but a true community that is interested in the whole rather than just the individual. That sense of community is very much driven home in this book simply because it features two Morgan adjacent characters. Both Rio and Yvonne are so easy to like, and it is simply a matter of turning a few pages to get behind them and root for their success. With the mix of old and new characters, the continuation of the series arc and the book-specific arc, I found myself absolutely engrossed in this read. Overall, the series is continuing to interest me with its fine cast of characters, interesting plot lines, and overall freshness. I am perfectly ready for book six 😊