Summer At Mustang Ridge by Jesse Hayworth

Summer At Mustang Ridge by Jesse HayworthAvailable: Now Amazon/B&N

Type: Contemporary Romance

Publisher: Signet

My Copy: NetGalley

Reviewer: Pam

A single visit to Mustang Ridge can change a person’s life in the most unexpected ways…. 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.

Mustang Ridge Ranch is a dude ranch in Wyoming which Shelby is hoping is the perfect place for both daughter Lizzie and her this summer. Shelby is the new assistant cook that will help Gran in the kitchen, as the current assistant is on bed rest. Lizzie’s therapist, Gertie helped get Shelby the job in hopes that Lizzie’s fascination with horses will get her to talk again.

Lizzie has selective mutism and has not spoken in two years, most children outgrow it eventually however it has taken Lizzie more time than most. Stace, one of the ranch workers is training to become a therapist and has agreed to teach Lizzie to ride a horse in hopes this will help.

The Skye family has own Mustang Ridge Ranch for over two hundred years, they recently had to turn it into a dude ranch to save it and other than Arthur, the grandfather, most are happy with the decision. Krista runs the family operation while her parents are away seeing the country in their motor home.

Foster is the trail boss and all around handy man, he lost his family ranch in a divorce and has been saving ever since to buy it back. He keeps to himself mostly, however both Shelby and Lizzie seem to intrigue him and much to the surprise of others he seems to be opening up more.

The summer progresses and the attraction that Shelby and Foster feel towards each other heats up and things fall into place, however as Lizzie has setbacks and Foster has commitment issues the tenuous relationship seems to falter.

I really enjoyed this contemporary romance. I love small town romances that involve several generations of a family and those they employ who they treat as family. Shelby is a wonderful character full of fire as she tries to help and protect her daughter at the same time, you can almost feel the struggle she is going through. She does lash out several times at those that are trying to help before she thinks it though, and has to apologize, and I wondered if her character is a little too wound up, however I am sure she is just feeling protective.

Foster is wonderful, I loved him from the start, a quiet man who just wanted to work and keep to himself. When he starts to feel something for Shelby he acts on it, yet makes it clear that this is just temporary and does not want to get too serious. Of course with a guy like that Shelby does make the mistake of falling and when she tells him, he turns as pale as a ghost. We find out that he does have several past items that he has yet to deal with that prevent him from moving forward and in time hurts Shelby with his silence.

The characters from the ranch are fun and comical as we watch Gran and her sourdough starter she calls Herman, and the absent mother who calls to stir up trouble then drops in to cause even more trouble. I loved Lizzie, the little troubled girl, the author tugs at my heart several times as we watch her struggle to communicate and how the family helps to bring her out of her shell, Foster is wonderful with her and I am sure that is one of the reasons I like him so much. He is so gentle with her that it is wonderfully endearing.

Just an emotional feel good story that has moments of both laughter and tears. I am looking forward to hearing more about this family as we may meet the twin sister of Krista when she comes home.

I give Summer at Mustang Ridge by Jesse Hayworth 4 stars!

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