My rating: 4 stars / I really liked it
A bet gone wrong. A small town's meddling. And a cowboy intent on saving his ranch.
Maggie Hope is an advice columnist whose background leaves her with little advice to give . . . and it's beginning to show. When Maggie fills in at an interview with champion horse trainer Tru Monahan, the on-camera chemistry between them is undeniable. Maggie's bosses know this is the opportunity she's been looking for to launch her career--and their bank accounts. In order to save her column, Maggie takes Tru up on the bet that he can teach her to ride a quick-stepping cutting horse like any cowgirl, despite the fact that she has never been on a horse. And in the meantime, she can get the scoop on the man under the cowboy hat.
Tru has been on the competition circuit for longer than he'd like, but he knows it's the only way he can afford to keep the Four of Hearts Ranch that means so much to his ailing grandfather. So when his sponsors see the opportunity for Tru's fans to get to know the star on a more intimate level, he knows he must oblige. To his dismay, Maggie not only invades his small town of Wishing Springs, but she also invades his heart, and that is something he cannot let any woman do--for her own good.
In Wishing Springs, Maggie finds what she has always been looking for: a community and a home. But when her past catches up to her, it threatens everything, even the tender hope that this town holds all of her heart's desires.
At first look, it seems like beautiful Maggie and heartthrob Tru have everything going for them- in the career department at least. But under the surface they each have tragic backgrounds and current struggles that run deep. It was the harder themes that got to me with this book rather than the romance. The author dealt with them in a gentle manner yet didn't shy away from the reality of the situations portrayed in the story. Dysfunctional family members, family loyalty, Alzheimer's, homelessness, unwed pregnancy, adoption, infertility, gambling, fame... but even with the heavy themes it's still uplifting and inspiring. I especially appreciated the different perspectives in the adoption storyline since we adopted both of our daughters. Don't get me wrong- there are plenty of funny and sweet moments too, and there is a strong cast of secondary characters that rounds out the hometown feel of this novel.
(Thank you to Thomas Nelson Publishing and BookLook Bloggers for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review)