Claiming The Rancher's Heart by Cindy Kirk
THE SURVEY SAYS:
The sleepy town of Wildwoods* was abuzz with romance ever since a doctoral student decided to come there and find everyone's perfect match. When sophisticated city girl Stacie Summers was paired with rugged cowboy Josh Collins, they both thought it was a terrible mistake. After all, they didn't have a thing in common...other than the spark that instantly flared between them.
But even though Josh thought his survey result was way off base, he couldn't push the gregarious Stacie from his mind. And Stacie's low opinion of ranchers inched up with her heart rate whenever Josh was around. Could this unlikely friendship turn into something even unlikelier - love?
* Not sure why the name on the BCC doesn't quite match the one in the book...
Confession time - this is the first category Romance I've ever read. GASP! I know, right?! I have a few in a box somewhere (some one gave them to me), but I've never read them. Why, you may ask? Well, I guess I just don't have a good reason. I've made assumptions about the category as a whole, and while I'm never proud of myself for making assumptions, I continue to do so. First of all, I've ASSumed that the shorter length would make the story pacing too rushed for me to enjoy. Secondly, I figured that the shorter length would mean the ending would be less than belivable because, really how could two people reasonably fall in love within the span of roughly 200 pages? Thirdly, I felt that the characters would feel two diminsional and be lacking in any plausible traits. Lastly, I feared that I'd want more, and not be satisfied.
Well, all but my last assumption turned out to be just that - ASSumption. When I entered a contest over on Kirk's joint blog, The Sisterhood of the Jaunty Quills, and did not win, but Kirk ended up giving everyone that entered a prize of some sort, I figured now was as good as time as any to give a category a chance. I'm pleased I did.
Stacie has come to Sweet River, with her two roommates, Anna, Sweet River native, and Lauren who is working on her dissertation project of male-female compatibility. When Lauren's computer program spits out Stacie a match, and that match turns out to be rancher Josh, Stacie is less than pleased. She doesn't like ranchers, "She liked her men more artsy, preferring the starving-poet look over a bulky linebacker any day." It doesn't matter that when she first meets him her body immediately reacts. It doesn't matter, because she's on a mission to find her "bliss" and a rancher like Josh was not in her plans.
Josh isn't much happier with Stacie than she with him; he's been burned before by a woman just like her, when his ex-wife decided he wasn't enough. But friendship comes so naturally for the two that it becomes harder and harder for the two to ignore the flame that's growing hotter and hotter between them every time they meet.
I really enjoyed Josh and Stacie and wish I had more time with them. Wish I could have watched a little longer as they discover that past mistakes and future dreams don't have to stop one's true "bliss". And aside from a few choppy moments of dialogue that I felt didn't really jive, Kirk has made a category reader out of me, and I can't wait to read more from this very talented author.
For a Romance that's all heart read this book. Then look for the next book from Sweet River Your Ranch or Mine? in July.