Summer at Mustang Ridge by Jesse Hayworth

Summer at Mustang Ridge by Jesse Hayworth Purchase:

    SUMMER AT MUSTANG RIDGE will touch your heart, break it a little and then put it back together in the end.

    Recovering from a difficult divorce and having problems with her daughter, Shelby accepts a summer job cooking at a family-run dude ranch. She hopes the animals will be just what her daughter, Lizzie, needs. Little does she know that ranch life will work some healing magic on her, too.

    When Shelby meets the head wrangler, Foster, she is put off by his brusque nature, but Lizzie takes an instant liking to the cowboy and his horses. While both Foster and Shelby have been scarred by love, it’s not long before Shelby is drawn to the rugged cowboy and his thoughtful ways. But with summer nights in short supply and Foster wary of falling for a city girl, a simple summer romance soon grows complicated.

    As the days dwindle, Shelby will have to decide not only what is best for her daughter but also where her future – and her happiness – will be found.

    Review by J. Gail Chianese:

    Jesse Hayworth
    Jesse Hayworth

    I seldom write reviews, but when I do, it’s because the book has earned that extra time from me and SUMMER AT MUSTANG RIDGE is worth it. This is a beautiful love story not just between Shelby and Foster, but between mother and daughter. I

    laughed, I sympathized, I cried – yes, even though I knew a HEA was coming, Jesse Hayworth managed to pull me so deep into the story that I cried when it seemed all was over for Shelby and Forest. Yet it was so much more.

    I smiled over the friendship and sisterhood between Shelby and Krista with their midnight sundaes. Laughed at Gran and her obsession with `Herman’ and sympathized with the crazy family dynamics. SUMMER AT MUSTANG RIDGE will touch your heart, break it a little and then put it back together in the end.

    Review by M. K.:

    There are a lot of books about city girls coming to the ranch and falling for a cowboy, so this has some familiar echoes but this feels a little slower paced and more thoughtful than most of those books.

    Let me make one thing clear, okay? Slower paced is not an insult. It works. This is a saddle ride through the country, not a car chase. We admire the view as we go through the book; we don’t rush from trauma to drama. The writing and view is pretty enough that we don’t get bored. The little touches of humor are sweet rather than snarky, yet they work. Her voice is perfect for the occasionally vivid word pictures—it’s never over-the-top and always a pleasure to spend time reading.

    The hero and heroine might be familiar types, but they are most definitely not stereotypes and, even better, they are good, decent people. The heroine loses her temper now and then, but she has good reasons. The hero is a little relationship shy but he also has good reasons–and even better, manages to figure out on his own when he’s being a turkey. they are both grown-ups in this book and that’s refreshing.

    The daughter seems less three dimensional to me. We know she has to have some kind of recovery or change–we know that going into the story, because it is that sort of story. But it feels realistic, even if it’s sort of fast.

    My only quibbles? Too many references to twinkies. Grandma’s obsession with Herman started to creep me out a bit (although I did like his secret!) The hero does the “you aren’t like other women” thing, a common romance move that hadn’t bothered me until recently . . . but is now suddenly getting on my nerves in books. (I read some article about that trend and now I see that damn trope everywhere.)

    Even that particular schtick is okay though because:

    1. He had a reason for saying it.
    2. No one in the book is like the romance-standard of the shallow women–we don’t have a scowling snarling bad guy to dislike. Even the most unpleasant character is a hoot and I want to see more of her, though I bet everyone else on the ranch would be glad if she’d drive away again.

    This book won’t set your world on fire, but sometimes I want the world to be flame-free. This is a wonderful summer escape and I want to visit the ranch again.

    When I was a kid, I spent a lot of time around horses at summer camp. I didn’t see the appeal. As I read this book–the descriptions of riding, of caring for the horses, of life making camp with horses, even of the horsey personalities.–I wanted to go back in time and try again.

    I realize now I’d rather have spent time at Hayworth’s fictional Mustang Ranch than the real deal. As an escape it’s a lot cheaper and there are fewer horseflies.