The Rancher’s Mistletoe Bride by Jill Kemerer (review)

theranchersmistletoebride_kemerer_harlequinI’m just going to say it.  I loved the ending of this sweet, contemporary cowboy romance.  The final lines (this is before the epilogue) were adorable, romantic, and the perfect end to this wedding planner meets cowboy story.

Pumpkin pie, Christmas decorating, laughter and music?  He’d better not get used to this.  The illusion of home had devastated him too many times in the past.  He couldn’t handle losing another one. (p.80)

Alexandra Harrington has been a driven, successful businesswoman in her chosen field. After the death of her father, she returns to Wyoming and ends up hiring a former classmate she barely remembers to manager her family’s ranch.  Clint Romine was a foster child who learned ranch work in his last placement, a local boy’s home.  Returning to ranch work is a return to what he knows and loves, but he is harboring a deep seated feeling of unworthiness and masking the guilt and shame he feels over a past mistake.

She wanted more than any guy had offered her so far, and Clint, for all his curling eyelashes and silky, touchable hair, seemed too reserved to be that guy. (p.23)

They are both lonely people, and they are both fighting their attraction to each other.  She’s looking for a man who will love her deeply and be willing to make romantic gestures.  He knows that she is out of his league, and always was.  But trying to keep to an employer/employee relationship proves to be quite difficult.

It hit him then.  No wonder she was as thin as a piece of licorice.  She hadn’t grieved her father’s death.

There was no one her to look after her.  No clients to meet with.  No friends to face her to eat lunch.  No father to ensure she lived in a safe, well-maintained house.

Nobody but him. (p.41)

As Lexi and Clint spend time together, riding horses on the ranch, attending church, and celebrating Thanksgiving and Christmas, the reluctant attraction turns to love.  The first part of this book had me thinking that it was going to be a cute but predictable story, and I even had Gift of the Magi suspicions along the way, but the author throws in a few surprises (who ever knew a General Store could be so romantic?).  And I’m still smiling over that ending.

He might not like it, but Denver was the best place for her.  He’d have to get used to her not being around eventually.  Besides, he’d never be more than a hired hand, and he’d better not forget it. (p.96)

Along with happily following the story of Lexi’s adjusting priorities and Clint coming to terms with his past, the reader is introduced to the men who became Clint’s brothers while teens in the boys’ home as well as, I suspect, the heroine for the next installment in this new series.  I am looking forward to it.

If you enjoy contemporary stories with cowboys, wedding planners, and sweet romance with a faith element, all set in the holiday season, then this is definitely one to give a try.  A quick read that is sweet, touching, and (get ready for it) awww-inspiring.

The Rancher’s Mistletoe Bride (Wyoming Cowboys, #1) by Jill Kemerer | Harlequin, Love Inspired, Oct 2017 | ebook, 261 pages

This review refers to an ebook read while on loan from my public library.  All opinions expressed are my own.

From the Publisher:

Coming Home for Christmas 

Wedding planner Lexi Harrington needs a manager for her inherited Wyoming ranch. Clint Romine is the perfect man for the job, but the ruggedly handsome cowboy soon presents a new dilemma—distraction. Lexi can’t fall for a small-town rancher when she’s planning to return to her big-city career after the holidays. Home has always been elusive for former foster kid Clint. Working alongside Lexi at Rock Step Ranch feels too cozy—and too risky. Opening up to her means revealing a secret about his past that could jeopardize everything he holds dear. This Christmas, can Clint learn to trust Lexi with the truth…and with his heart?