Luke Morgan is a rancher more interested in drawing than cattle—both raising them and eating them. Feeling like an outcast amongst his family, he takes a college art class in secret. Maddie Richards, the newbie in town, is also part of the class. Except she’s the nude model, in an attempt to forge a better self image of her body after overcoming an eating disorder.
The opening was engaging. The characters had some interesting angles, and the early scenes fleshed out sufficiently to set the tone and feel. Luke was a good guy, pursing his own interests and wrangling his own identity issues in a culture he wasn’t quite at home in, despite it being his upbringing. It made sense that Luke would gravitate to the blue haired outsider. And Maddie does break some typical romance heroine molds. With so many virgin heroines in romance, I was pleased that she was more realistically described as neither “a wallflower [n]or a saint.”
The pacing, however, made me start to lose interest. I think this is often a common problem with novella length books in general. Specifically here though, readers get the first date but then it skips ahead a few weeks (and later a few months) and sometimes there are places where conversations they had in that time are summed up in monologue rather than unfolding in scenes of their own when it happened. And along these same lines the “tell” rather than “show” vibe cropped up. I’m not sure I ever really felt what they were supposed to be feeling for each other. Mostly, due to pacing that either ‘rushed’ or ‘glossed over’ rather than ‘built up’ their connection and the story. For example, I liked their plan to not just give in to lust; I already felt that Maddie was just scratching an itch during their first encounter. But their ‘take it slower and get to know you’ plan is often tossed into a summation after the fact rather than developed into scenes occurring chronologically. This was a lost opportunity for chemistry and sexual tension.
Personally, I also wasn’t a fan of the infertility conflict. The way Maddie handled it didn’t endear me to her. It was also a heavy, complicated topic for a shorter book.
But if you gravitate to quicker reads and ones that are safe, this might be a title to check out. It’s thankfully void of any OW/OM drama and the couple is only focused on each other. This is the premier book in the new Big Sky Cowboys series. Future releases will feature Luke’s siblings.
Lola West writes short, sweet, smart, silly, sexy romance. With a PhD in women's studies and a flair for the dramatic, Lola likes to keep it real. Her loves are cotton candy, astronomy, kitten heels and small-town hunks. Lola writes heroes that make you swoon and heroines that talk back. And, she believes that consent is always sexy, even in books.
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