Wooten’s debut weaves a wholesome love-at-first-sight romance about a hunky cowboy-lawyer, a rootless photographer and a political murder.
The author captures the reader’s attention from the start with endearing lead characters replete with good intentions, plucky attitudes and a loyal devotion to those they care about. World-renowned photographer Carolyn Bradford arrives in Austin, Texas, determined to put down roots for the first time in her life. She’s not looking for love, but she stumbles across it when she meets Luke Brady, the best friend of her dear friend’s husband. Luke, a lawyer-turned-rancher who spends his time trading contracts for homemade pies, struggles to find his place after inheriting the ranch from his deceased grandparents. He yearns for connection, and the moment he meets Carolyn, he knows that he’s found it. That they instantaneously fall in love is sweet and heartwarming, but their romance is so simplistic that it feels somewhat stale, especially since there’s little tension or personal growth. The only significant conflict in the story is a marginally related political murder that is so disconnected from the romance that it feels like an add-on. Wooten’s wholesome characters and plotlines have potential, but the author doesn’t delve into them sufficiently. Instead, the novel skims the surface, without providing much fire or passion. The author does do a solid job with the setting: The ranch comes alive with details of roping steers and galloping through trails. The animals in the book are always vividly portrayed, and they add a layer of authenticity to the story.
A warm love story that doesn’t deliver the emotional punch to make it truly compelling.