In Rohman’s (Winter’s Blush, 2017, etc.) novel, a city girl and a confident cowboy find themselves embroiled in a dangerous conspiracy on a remote Colorado ranch.
When Hannah wins the lottery, she and her only friend, Rick, decide to leave their directionless lives in Phoenix behind to buy an isolated ranch in the Rockies. Rick wants to marry her; all she wants is enough peace to garden and paint. But peace is the last thing she finds at her new home; the night they arrive, Rick offers to drive into town to buy a pizza—and never returns. Hannah would have been stranded in her empty, dilapidated house if it weren’t for Trace McAllister, a suave cowboy who shortly shows up to deliver her livestock. She and Trace soon discover that Rick has been found dead in a burned car along a mountain road, but when they go to investigate the site themselves, they’re surprised to find signs of a struggle there. Rohman steadily builds tension, stringing together unnerving scenes and introducing intriguing coincidences to keep readers engaged. That said, the author also drops large hints that diffuse some of the mystery. Trace and Hannah also begin to explore their overpowering attraction to each other. Hannah is shown to be sensitive, with a natural connection to animals, and Trace, with his muscles and inherent kindness, effortlessly slides into the role of her protector. The success of the romance hinges on readers’ emotional palates; what some may find treacly, others will find refreshingly wholesome. An exemplary moment is when Hannah nibbles Trace’s neck, followed by the line: “With a manly moan, he returned her sweet gesture.” Western-style phrases, such as “well-endowed young gal” and “pretty lady,” crop up repeatedly and unabashedly. Later, a promiscuous teenager demonstrates the darker side of such endearments, and the one-dimensional treatment of this minor villain detracts from the portrayal of the main antagonist.
A gentle, conventional romance that promises more suspense than it delivers.