The Secret Child & The Cowboy CEO

Trent Sinclair is a powerful man; like many romance leading men, he carries grudges far longer than most mortals would, and does not forgive or trust anyone easily. Bryn Matthews lied six years ago, and was sent away from the only home she’d ever known with the Sinclairs. Or did she really lie?

I know, I’ve been away for a month; things have been busy. On a recent business trip, I threw this book and a few others onto the Kindle because they looked like easy, fun reads, and I normally like the contemporary stories with a Western flair. Set one in the Grand Tetons, and it’s a sure bet it’ll find a way to the top of my list eventually. But I struggled with this one a little. Let me explain…

Bryn’s mother was staff at the Sinclair ranch, and when she died, Trent’s father Mac let her stay, and grow up with his sons, including late-comer Jesse. Bryn had a crush on the next-older one, Trent, but was close in age to Jesse, and when Trent turned her down for her senior prom, she started seeing Jesse, partly out of spite. What happens with teenagers, happened, and now Bryn has a young son of her own that she’s been raising with the help of an aunt. She’s back, because Mac has called her. He’s had a heart attack, and needs someone to help out while he recovers, and he’s always missed her, not knowing that she was, in fact, telling the truth–she had a child, and it was Jesse’s. Her presence on the ranch antagonizes Trent, also back from his high-powered CEO gig in Denver to help his ailing father. He’s always had the hots for her, you see, but…

See what I mean? The story kind of reminds me of a too-thin teenager, all sharp corners and awkwardness. The premise is sound enough, I suppose, but Trent is carrying his antagonism for Bryn around far longer than is plausible, to me. He’s just determined to stay mad at her, even when the truths are revealed in a way he cannot deny! Oh, but he wants her, so bad it hurts, so just one kiss, and then get cranky again.

In the mechanical matters, author Janice Maynard does a nice job. The setting is gorgeous, and the enormous ranch home is richly enough described to let you see the mightiness of the place. Our hero and heroine are described richly, and supporting cast–well, the key ones, anyway–are not paper cutout extras, but real people we can sink our literary teeth into. The steam, while it comes and goes with Trent’s mercurial moods, is explicit without being trashy, and once they finally do figure things out and decide to go at their problems together, they gel quickly into a nice believable couple.

Is this a good story? Sure. It was an easy, enjoyable read, and it soaked up most of a longish flight for me, in a world I could lose myself in just a little. Was it a great story? Sadly, no. I think there was a lot of potential here, but Trent’s perpetual grumpiness and waffling over Bryn just cast a sour note for me.

My ratings:

Story Quality:
Character Chemistry: