Series: Wrangler's Creek #6
Published by HQN Books on June 26, 2018
Source: the publisher
Buy from Amazon|Buy from Barnes & Noble|Buy from Book Depository
The most important two words for this Wrangler’s Creek rodeo cowboy? I do...
Lucian Granger isn’t winning any Mr. Cowboy Congeniality awards. Known in his small Texas town as “Lucifer” thanks to his surly nature and knack for scaring people away from getting too close, the handsome rancher has no trouble ignoring the gossip. But when he’s in danger of losing the land he’s put his blood, sweat and tears into maintaining, Lucian sets out to prove he’s a changed man—by claiming he’s about to settle down with his invaluable assistant, Karlee O’Malley.
Their pending nuptials may be just for show, but from the moment they kiss, the proverbial fireworks start going off in his head—and in his heart. Before long, the man who’s usually as emotional as a brick wall is tired of pretending and wants to share a real future with Karlee. With his world suddenly turned upside down, Lucian will risk losing the business and the ranch if it means holding on to the one woman worth becoming a better man for.
I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
The Last Rodeo by Delores Fossen was a really nice change of pace for me. I very rarely go into an established series without starting from the beginning, but I loved the idea of a male lead from a nice family, known for his bad personality, called “Lucifer” as a nickname by the people in his small community. Also, I absolutely love the fake relationship trope.
Lucian Granger manages Granger Enterprises, which is the business end of the family’s lucrative ranch, while his brother Dylan takes care of the actual ranching aspect. Lucian is known for his tough-as-nails business dealings and for being hard to get along with. Early in the story, his majority-shareholding father Jerry fires him from the family business and vows to come home to the ranch and take over, which is a horrible idea because Jerry is horrible with money. A quick plan is set in place involving Lucian and his long-time assistant, Karlee: a fake engagement. (Yes! I love them!) Hopefully, the community will see that if Lucian can actually get engaged (wink, wink), then maybe he is indeed softening up a little bit and changing his ways. Maybe then, the community will support Lucian as he tries to regain control of Granger Enterprises.
I’ve already mentioned that I love fake relationships. The thing that I love about them is that the fake feelings are so hard to maintain and eventually the characters succumb to their feelings. I read a ton of these stories and for the most part, they’re usually something that I can predict, at least to a degree. But the path Karlee and Lucian took was one was actually a little bit different than I anticipated. Not a bad thing at all, but this pair did keep me on my toes. I liked them both a lot, and I could feel their emotions on the pages, which is essential for me with a romance story.
I think what surprised me most about this book is that the romance didn’t feel like the most central part of the story. This felt like a story about a big, dysfunctional, dramatic family – with Karlee and Lucian as sort of the featured characters. Their romance was important to the plot because it moved it forward, but it seemed like in every chapter, their romance ended up being secondary to something else. For example, the drama with Lucian’s crazy father always seemed to take precedence over this couple moving forward.
As far as the family drama stuff goes: it’s hilarious. Lucian has this huge family and it seems like most of them have page time at one point or another in the story. The same goes with Karlee’s family. Since this is my first book by Ms. Fossen, I’m assuming that most of these characters have been featured before in this series and that many of her loyal readers already know these family members better than I do. I think there is potential to be confused by such large cast, but I didn’t have any trouble with this. It also seems like these families are interconnected through past bad history, and I’m a little bit curious about what happened.
My favorite character in the big family, I think, is Lucian’s mother Regina. She’s funny and feisty, and she is in favor of Karlee and Lucian actually getting together. She is also the one that came up with the fake engagement plan.
This is one of those “it came to me at the right time” kind of stories. I picked it up and read it all in one evening after having a rough morning. So it was nice to relax with something fun. There is a part of me that wishes that I’d have just started at the beginning like I normally do with series, but ultimately I just liked Karlee and Lucian so much that I’m glad that I went ahead and picked up where I did. It’s nice to know that I can go back and read from the beginning whenever I want to.
Sidenote: Included at the end of my mass market paperback copy is Cowboy Blues (Wrangler’s Creek #5.5), which is a neat little bonus.