Toni Swenson is on a mission. She’s gotta have a baby boy, and soon, or her late grandfather’s ranch will be sold! The old coot didn’t think that a woman could possibly love it, or run it, like he did, and put it in his will that it must be inherited by a male. So Toni is hunting for a cowboy, born and bred, who can pass on the genes for the love of the country…and what better place to find one than the bull ring at the National Finals Rodeo?
Brand Lander is a rodeo champion–but has never let the ladies close to him. He’s got reasons, you see. But the cute little thing with the gleam in her eye just draws him, and they quickly have the most intense night of passion he’s ever experienced–only to discover that he is her first! When she leaves before he wakes the next day, he knows he’s got to find her, to find out what’s really going on here.
I really, really liked this story, as you can see by the ratings. The chemistry between Brand and Toni is at-once evident. For much of the book, both of them are convinced that the other one is undependable, and will leave after the baby is born; this conflict (and the causes of it) are entirely reasonable given their parentage: Toni’s father is an abuser, and Brand must prove that he’s not like that, and Brand’s mother left the family when he was just a young boy, and Toni must prove that she’s not like that.
The setting and other characters in this story are all as genuine and believable as our protagonists, all solidly and consistently portrayed. The scene where Toni’s father shows up is intense; Toni had been hit by a swinging gate, and had a black eye. Her father thought that Brand had caused it, and slugged him, then prepared to hit her as well…but Brand wasn’t going to allow that. This shows Brand what exactly Toni had grown up with, and why she had repeatedly been so frightened of him when he got upset.
The ending is, as you would expect, beautiful and affirming, with Brand and Toni committing to keeping the ranch going, both getting their dream work, and raising their children together.
One of the places this book really stands out, to me, is in the quality (and…erm…quantity) of its’ intimate scenes. The sexual chemistry between Toni and Brand is incredibly intense, even in their first meeting, and Toni is wonderfully overwhelmed at how gentle and caring and loving Brand is in bed. Brand, for his part, is thrown for a loop by the intensity and heat of their love-making. All of the sex scenes in this story are depicted explicitly, without seeming at-all tawdry or trashy; this is a love affair between two wonderfully rich characters, and it’s a wonder to behold.
This was Emilie Rose’s debut effort for Silhouette Desire; I was not at all surprised to discover on the Romance Wiki that she is a successful best-selling author, with well over twenty projects for this line. I highly recommend this story, and am looking forward to reading more from this author!