A marriage of convenience to save the farm forces two lifelong friends to confront buried feelings in this contemporary Western.
Louisa Fairchild has had a rough life. Abandoned by her parents at age 9, she was raised on her grandparents’ ranch outside of Gracely, Colorado. And since her cheating ex burned her barn down, she has physical scars to match her emotional ones. Still, Lou prides herself on her resilience and runs a successful flower farm on the Fairchild land. But when her widowed grandmother insists that Lou find a husband or lose the ranch to her deadbeat father, she’s at a loss. Gavin Tyler’s big, boisterous family owns the neighboring ranch. Good-natured and loyal, he’s a middle son, eager for the chance to run a big operation on his own rather than play second fiddle to his older brother. More importantly, Gavin has been quietly in love with Lou since they were teenagers. He offers his hand in fake marriage, and Lou grudgingly accepts, but the charade becomes all too real when affection turns to burning passion. The rushed marriage feels unnecessary, and the resulting compressed timeline makes Lou’s shift from “the snarly angry caricature of herself she’d become since the fire” to an open, loving companion difficult to accept. Helm (Homecoming for the Cowboy, 2019, etc.) excels at deep emotional exploration, though, and this is angst-y without being melodramatic. The Tyler family bonds are in full force, with many characters returning from the four prior installments of the Mile High series to offer support, witty repartee, and, when necessary, a kick in the Wranglers to the main protagonists.
A fast-paced, emotional romance with lots of family drama.