Series: Emerald Belles, #3
Release Date: November 7, 2017
Tracy’s rating: 4 of 5 stars
Deirdre and Sadie arrive in California eager to reunite with fellow widow Cat (Courting the Corporal) and begin building the winery they envisioned.
However the news is not good, Ainsworth, a local landowner wants the widows lands and has already tried to stop Cat from arriving in time to claim their land. Upon failing to kill Cat, Ainsworth employs other means to steal their land. If they do not have houses on all three lots by Spring, they will have to forfeit their claims. Ainsworth convinces everyone to refuse to sell the widows lumber and will not let them cross his land to bring any in. Desperate the widows must come up with another plan to get lumber and keep their land.
Deirdre comes up with a plan, under the guise of planning a wedding for Cat and Rick, she means to lull Ainsworth into a sense of ease, all while they sneak lumber right under his nose and begin to build their houses.
To make things more interesting, Deirdre meets two men, both to whom she is attracted, but she is not sure either is what she is looking for in a husband. After the fiasco of her first marriage, she is firm in what she is looking for in a man, she wants nothing to do with a man with ties to high society, she would prefer a working man, someone who would accept her as a partner and not treat her like a child that needs protecting. She is also looking for a man who is not afraid of passion, she was stifled in her first marriage and has no desire to relive that nightmare. Two men seem to have potential, Dylan the ranch hand working for Rick and Kinan the owner of the inn she is staying at. But while she finds both men attractive, only Kinan shares her interests, too bad he is so proper!
Kinan has a secret and he is sure that Deirdre will be disgusted when she learns of it, but what he doesn’t know is Deirdre has secrets of her own.
As Deirdre and Kinan work together to build her home, she becomes more attracted to him and wonders if he is really as proper as she first thought, maybe he would accept her once he knew the truth, but too much is at stake for her and her friends to risk letting him know.
When Dylan makes his interest known, Deirdre has to admit that she has feelings for Kinan and tries to discourage Dylan’s attentions. During Cat’s engagement ball, after dancing with Kinan and getting a surprise proposal from Ainsworth, Deirdre escapes the ball to get some air and in doing so learns Kinan’s secret. Instead of being disgusted, Deirdre is relieved, because she knows now that Kinan can be trusted with her secret. When he finds her, she shares the truth with him and it seems that these two are well on their way to a HEA.
But before they can act on their feelings, Dylan arrives with the terrible news – the widow’s houses are all afire. By the time they arrive, Deirdre’s house is almost gone and to make matters worse, Dylan is injured fighting the fire. Deirdre is heartbroken, with winter setting in, there is no way to get more lumber and it seems that her dreams will be shattered.
But help comes from a surprising source and again Kinan shows Deirdre that he will do anything to support her dreams and things between them progress. But their budding relationship will be tested again when Dylan heals and confronts Deirdre. That confrontation leads to a final confrontation with Ainsworth and Dylan’s secrets will be revealed.
I thought the story was well written, but I would not recommend reading this book without having read Courting the Corporal first, I also had mixed feelings about Deirdre, I have nothing against a strong, independent woman, but for most of the book Deirdre came across as indecisive and wanton – she is practically drooling over the men and seems more like a cat in heat than the modern no-nonsense woman she claims to be. I would also agree with another reviewer who said that the graphic love scene came out of nowhere – because while I have no problem with a graphic love scene, there was no real build up to it – they don’t even kiss until well past the 3/4 point of the book and then BAM! they are having sex. The scene was well done, but the timing didn’t seem right. I also found the final confrontation with Ainsworth completely anti-climatic. But many of the lingering questions I had at the end of Courting the Corporal were answered in this book and I loved the relationship between Deirdre, Sadie and Cat.
I really enjoyed the book and having read the previous book I was thrilled to see Cat, Rick and Sadie again and very happy to see Ainsworth get his comeuppance – I would happily recommend this book but would highly recommend reading at least Courting the Corporal before starting this book.
*I am voluntarily leaving a review for an ARC that was provided to me by NetGalley and the publisher*