Everything's bigger in Big Sky country, including the hearts of the Montana Men
Series: Montana Men
Author: Jennifer Ryan
Genre: Contemporary, Western, Suspense, Romance
ARCs Received From: Edelweiss
Reviewed For: Tasty Book Tours
Books in this series
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Title: Montana Men #1: At Wolf Ranch
Release Date: February 24, 2015
After years on the rodeo circuit, Gabe Bowden wants nothing more than land of his own and a woman who will claim his heart for more than one night. When he has the chance to buy the enormous Wolf Ranch spread, he snaps up the incredible deal. Everything is set, until Gabe rescues a woman on the deserted, snowy road leading to the property, and the half-frozen beauty changes everything.
Ella Wolf rushes to her family’s abandoned Montana ranch after her twin sister is murdered. She knows she’s next…unless she can uncover a secret hidden somewhere at Wolf Ranch. The last thing Ella expects is to be rescued by a rugged rancher with his own agenda. A man who almost makes her forget how dangerous love can be…
As an unlikely partnership sparks into something so much more, and a killer closes in, can Ella and Gabe learn to trust one another before it’s too late?
When you've lost everything, when your world falls apart in front of you, what do you do?
It's a hard question to answer, I think, at any age. Whether you're left at the altar like Gabe was or left alive because every member of your immediate family was dead like Ella was, finding your footing and learning to walk again is hard. Sometimes, though, it can be the turning point in your life.
Gabe's was when his fiancee walked out on him. Ella's was when she witnessed her twin sister's murder. Maybe it was luck that had them meeting the way they did. Maybe it was Fate. Whatever it was, their roads were destined to cross and their lives were meant to entwine.
In every way possible, they complimented each other. Their worlds were different, but not really. Ella knew, understood, and appreciated the country lifestyle Gabe wanted because it was hers as well. Glitz and glamor, celebrities and expensive restaurants. Ella knew that life but she also knew one of hard work, of quiet and comfort in the family home, of good times and laughter and love with a family. The memories she had of her family ranch in Montana came up time and again as she searched for answers to why her sister died. If it wasn't obvious to Gabe at the beginning, it sure as hell became obvious as they spent time together that money and fancy things were not the center of this woman's world.
Love and family were. For a man like Gabe whose family was everything, this was a blessing in disguise and one more reason to fall in love with Ella.
The one thing I loved the most about Gabe was his strength. His physical strength was impressive. Come on. Who doesn't think "impressive" when it comes to cowboys? *chuckles* But it wasn't because he fought Ella's battles or designated himself her knight in shining armor. It's because it didn't overshadow Ella's strength. When I said they complimented each other in every way possible, I meant it. Ella was one hell of a strong woman. Standing beside Gabe made her even stronger. She had the support of a well-grounded man in her corner, one willing to punch someone's lights out or let her do it.
Life doesn't always happen the way you want it to. Plans fall apart. Unexpected happens. Tragedy occurs. But what you do when everything falls around you shows more about your character than words ever could. And sometimes the most amazing things happen because your world is turned upside down. You meet the most incredible person who sees your pain, understands your heart, and is willing to risk life and limb to make your happiness a reality. All you have to do is take that chance.
Title: Montana Men #2: When It's Right
Release Date: March 31, 2015
Gillian‘s turbulent life has never been easy, but nothing prepared her for the moment of violence that sends her and her little brother running from San Francisco to her grandfather’s ranch in Montana. A man she’s never met. She learned long ago not to trust anyone, but she’ll do anything to keep her brother safe and give him the happy childhood she never had. When she meets Blake Bowden, a strong, silent, gorgeous cowboy who teaches her about the ranch and rescued horses-animals who have been through hell and back, just as she has-Gillian begins to feel at ease for the first time in memory. In fact, she even starts to feel happy. But in her world happiness has always been fleeting, and she’s not sure she can believe in it or the man who has quickly found his way into her heart.
Blake has everything he’s ever wanted: a partnership on a ranch that allows him to spend his day in the saddle training racehorses. His life is good, steady, uncomplicated…until the most beautiful, haunted looking woman arrives at Three Peaks Ranch. If he wants to keep his ideal life, his partner’s granddaughter is entirely off limits, but Gillian awakens a protective instinct in Blake that he can’t ignore…and ignites a passion he shouldn’t feel. But as Gillian heals and finds her way back into the world, Blake knows that he’s found the one thing that he never knew he was missing. And when danger comes close, he will do anything he must to keep Gillian safe…even if it means risking his life’s dream.
I'm at a loss for words right now so just...give me a minute to try to gather my thoughts.
Okay. Here we go.
It wasn't so much the abuse that Gillian and her brother Justin suffered or the end their father met. The ugliness of human behavior when under the influence of drugs and alcohol is shocking enough in real life. When it's written into a story where pictures aren't readily available and the reader's imagination is left to paint those pictures, it's just as shocking. And incredibly saddening. The condition their father was in was horrifying. His behavior toward his daughter was despicable. Her reaction, her defense of herself and her brother, was warranted. I didn't feel an ounce of sadness or sympathy for the bastard when she shot him. I wanted him to suffer longer for all the hell he'd put his children through, especially since his final act was to toss his only daughter from a window.
Too many years living with such a parent left Gillian and Justin broken physically, mentally and emotionally. Their father's death brought relief to their hellish life. But it left them hyper-aware of men and their actions, left them emotionally distant, left them unable to see the good in others without proof first. But at Three Peaks Ranch, they found a way to heal, to become strong again, to trust and love others again.
Gillian's relationship with Blake wasn't what drew an "Aw!" from me. It was how he helped her heal. He didn't push, didn't press, didn't demand more than she was willing to give. As much as he wanted her, he waited for her. The wait was worth it because by the time they admitted they were on the same wavelength they were ready. Their love for one another had grown and all that was left to do was admit it and act on it. Their first time together spoke volumes of how much they wanted, needed, and love each other.
It's the kind of love that proved what they had was right even if it happened fast.
This story isn't short but it isn't filled with fluffy material. It's deep and moving, emotional and relative. I cried, laughed, applauded and cheered. I hated and loved, smiled and frowned. I don't know if you'll feel or experience these things, but I hope you do. And even if you can't say you relate, I know someone out there will. If that's you, I hope you see this story as a lifeline and I hope you see that it will get better. It just takes time but I promise it will.
Jennifer Ryan is the New York Times & USA Today bestselling author of The Hunted Series and The McBrides Series. She writes romantic suspense and contemporary small-town romances featuring strong men and equally resilient women. Her stories are filled with love, family, friendship, and the happily-ever-after we all hope to find.
Jennifer lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and three children. When she isn’t writing a book, she’s reading one. Her obsession with both is often revealed in the state of her home and in how late dinner is to the table. When she finally leaves those fictional worlds, you’ll find her in the garden, playing in the dirt and daydreaming about people who live only in her head, until she puts them on paper.