I LOVED this book by Donna Grant. After reading this one, I went back to read the first book in the Heart of Texas series. This had a great balance of mystery and romance without being too over-the-top in either category. You do not have to read the first book, The Christmas Cowboy Hero, to fully enjoy this book.
What’s This About?
Naomi Pierce has returned home to help photograph her friend Whitney’s reign as a rodeo queen. Not long after arriving, Naomi realizes something is very wrong with the rodeo circuit and she get’s thrown into the middle of it. Whitney is hiding something. Naomi needs to find out what is going on before someone is seriously injured or worse.
Brice Harper is participating in the rodeo circuit while also setting down some roots of his own. He knows he wants to stay in this town and now he wants Naomi to stay with him. But, with the attacks and robberies stacking up against Naomi, he has to figure out who wants her out of town or out of his life permanently.
I loved the fierce independence in Naomi but she was smart enough to know accepting help is not a bad thing. When she is attacked and robbed and later pushed into the rodeo arena, she knows her camera has captured something so bad, people are willing to kill her for it. She isn’t going to let pride keep her from getting her answers.
Brice is such a good guy. I loved the subplot with him and his family, specifically his brother Caleb. Brice wants to run a ranch and he buys a house and land, assuming Caleb would want to ranch with him. Caleb views his leap into home ownership as a sign Brice wants to do his own thing. These two men had serious communication issues and I enjoyed seeing this play out.
The mystery is a dark one and not easy to read. Whitney is part of the rodeo circuit and the women of the circuit have been dealing with some horrendous abuse over the years. Being in the rodeo spotlight often brings opportunities for further pageant success and for advanced education. The women deal with the abuse looking ahead at the potential success when they can leave the town and the rodeo circuit.
Naomi and Brice have other ideas. When the families get involved in solving this crime, heads roll and I loved reading about it. The ending was fantastic! I am looking forward to Caleb’s story. He will need a woman with enormous patience! Thank you to NetGalley for the copy for my honest opinion.