Genre: Romance, Adult, Western, Thriller
Expected publication: June 19th 2012 by HQN Books
Can a city boy make good in the Wild West? After Wall Street collapses, investment banker Griff McPherson trades in his suits and ties for Stetsons and cowboy boots. He returns to the Wyoming ranch he co-owns with his brother, but it’s not exactly a happy homecoming. So to prove to everyone, including himself, that he belongs back in Jackson Hole, he takes a post as a wrangler on another ranch. Air force lieutenant Val Hunter has just returned to the Bar H ranch to help her ailing grandmother run the property. While it is full of unhappy memories, Val is determined to do right by her home. Her new hire is easy on the eyes and a tough wrangler to boot, yet her instincts make it hard for her to trust him. When a nefarious neighbour endangers her land, Val is forced to accept Griff’s help-but will she finally be able to open her heart?
I really, really wanted to like The Wrangler. I liked the premise and I like cowboys. Western ranch romances tend to get under my skin, there is just something about them I love. So you can imagine how excited I was to be given a copy of this book to read and review. I was over the moon. But I am afraid the excitement was for nothing and I ended up coming away disappointed.
I felt like the story started too quickly, you were instantly thrown very matter of factly into Val’s bleak history. I know you have to get to these points in books I just wasn’t expecting it right on at the beginning. It would have helped if the information was delivered in an interesting and engaging way, but it wasn’t. Instead I got a bland and very structured conversation that felt unnatural, something that happens a lot in this book. The way the conversation is put together says a lot about the writing to be found here. Technically it is fine, it is understandable it flows…but there is just nothing to it. Everything felt a little sparse, a little empty. There is a lot of unnecessary talking, a lot of long-winded conversations that were not needed. The characters tell us how they are feeling by the way they act and by their thoughts, we do not need them to then talk about their feelings with one another. All of this leads (partly) to there being a lot of repetition. The characters seem to say the same things a lot, not only that but there it a lot of repetition of phrases as well.
I felt like there was a good story here. If everything was scaled back a bit and focused more on the romance between Griff and Val then this review would be totally different. Instead, there are a lot of subplots involving drugs, FBI agents and feuding brothers that were not totally needed. The brothers were a nice touch, and ties into another book in the series which is fine. But the other sub plots were not interesting enough and were not tied up at the end. The romance takes a back seat to a lot of this and only really kicks off around the 80% mark. It was as though the writer couldn’t make up her mind what kind of book she wanted to write and so tried to do both. This lead to everything feeling half-done which, in turn, made a boring book. I hate it when I see unused potential and this had it in spades, I just wish more was made of it.
The best thing about this book is the characters. For the most part they are strong in their roles. Gus is a great-grandmother she is a complete cheese ball. Honestly, the things this old lady says! But she gets away with it because she is sweet and has the most amazingly strong backbone. Another good character was Curt. He was awful and filled the villain role perfectly. He really was a snivelling weasel and there was nothing likable about him at all.
Unfortunately, the weakest character was the main one. Val is really quite bizarre. I liked that she started off standoffish and untrusting but then grew to love and live again, her journey was great but it was the way she thought about things that bothered me. Firstly she acts as though Griff being attractive is a real inconvenience and problem. Sure a good-looking guy can be a distraction but a burden? Never! Also Val feels like she cannot trust Gus or any other man because her dad used to beat her, I get it, I have no problem with that. Apart from the fact that she used to be engaged and in love with a guy who was lovely to her and never hurt her. She was happy with him and trusted him…so why does she find it nearly impossible with other men especially one that treats her as well as Griff does.
The main selling point of this book is Griff. He is not just attractive he is also charming, kind and sweet. Sure, he is strong and big and manly but he also has a shyness about him that is endearing and a softness that is refreshing. He is not pushy; or broody instead he is head and heart smart. He is just a genuinely good guy.
At the end of the day the biggest problem with The Wrangler is that I feel like I have read it a million times before, there are hundreds of books out there just like this one and unfortunately for The Wrangler some of them are better. The romance in this is lacking, getting to it is like pulling teeth and in the end I lost my patience. I like a slow burner but I also like a story to move forward, at times this felt so slow it almost stopped.
This book had a lot of potential but unfortunately I found it lacking.