Fiction – Kindle edition. HQN Books, 2015. 400 pgs. Library copy.
A close friend raved about this book back in September 2017, saying that it completely changed her mind about the subgenre of cowboy romance novels. Such a claim was enough for me to add the eBook to my holds at the public library and wait for a copy to load onto my Kindle.
I was on the hold list for over a month before either of us realized the library hadn’t actually bought an eBook version of Yates’ novel. (It was listed on Overdrive as a book I could place a hold on, yet there were no copies to actually loan out.) I added myself to the hold list for the library’s print copy, but the hold did not come in before I moved across the country.
I largely forgot about this recommendation until she included it in her Top Reads of 2018 on Instagram. Thankfully, my new public library had the Kindle version available, and I downloaded it within hours of seeing her post.
The story centers around Sadie Miller, a former juvenile delinquent who has returned to her hometown of Copper Ridge, Oregon hoping to start a bed and breakfast, and the man who arrested her the first (and only) time she’s been arrested, Eli Garrett. As much as Sadie is hoping to avoid the stigma of her childhood antics, it is near impossible for her to do so for three reasons.
One, Copper Ridge is a small town and while Sadie’s parents have long since left town, there are still some who remember the Miller family. Two, she runs out of gas on her way into town and has to rely on one of the sheriffs to rescue her. (Two guesses as to who that sheriff is.) And, three, her new B&B is located on a piece of the Garrett family ranch.
Obviously, given the situation, Sadie is going to be unable to avoid Eli. Obviously, given the genre, Sadie and Eli are going to be unable to avoid being attracted to each other.
Having now read the book, I would absolutely echo my friend’s sentiment. Yates’ novel was fun and full of sexual tension thanks to the hate-to-love relationship between the characters. Some of Sadie’s innuendos seemed childish, but I was still cracking up over how they went over Eli’s head every time. Best of all, the novel didn’t fall into gimmicky language and stereotypes about cowboys.
Eli is a rancher (albeit part-time given that he’s also a deputy sheriff for the county), but he doesn’t speak with an obnoxious twain or refer to Sadie as the “little lady”. And the concerns of his family echo those of other ranchers – land is expensive, development is squeezing farmers and ranchers, it’s difficult to turn a profit with cattle, etc. He feels fleshed out as a character, which I find is rare for male characters in romance novels and rarer still in ones featuring cowboys.
The only flaw for me with Yates’ novel was the rushed ending. Sadie carries a lot of baggage about her past, and the novel does spend a significant amount of time trying to unpack that. But her relationship with Eli hits a roadblock related to both their pasts at the end, and it is quickly overcome in the last few pages. It was too “tied up in a beautiful bow” for me, although I really, really enjoyed the ride to get there.
My friend hasn’t read the rest of the books in the Copper Ridge series, and I’m waiting to see if she finds that they live up to this one. I haven’t read the blurbs for the next ones, but I’m assuming that one book in the series will feature Eli’s brother, Connor, and Connor’s (female) best friend and another will feature Eli’s sister, Katie, and Eli’s friend, Jack. One of those stories I’m more interested in than the other.