When I read the premise for Marrying the Rancher my ears (or eyes?) pricked up.
We see ex-army men so often in romance novels but ex-army women make a rare appearance. Throw in the trope of a divorced single mom moving to a ranch to start a new life with her young son, this book had #thisgirlcan written all over it. Yet, with some classically Cherish tugs to the heartstrings (namely a locally mistrusted conservationist who has never known real roots or family life), the scene was also set for a heart-warming, knee-dissolving story of fixed fences and mended hearts. Awwwe.
But did the Wanda-ometer gallop into the sunset with Roz Denny Fox’s Marrying the Rancher?
Our Seductive Squady:
Army officer (yes, technically not a squady but what can I say, I’m a slave to alliteration), Tandy Graham has faced and survived things that most of us daren’t even imagine. However, when her husband and fellow officer leaves her for a woman he met whilst stationed in the Philippines, she realises that no one is immune to a broken heart. Determined to start over, Tandy leaves the army to claim her inheritance (the ranch that her father left her) and raise her young and inquisitive son, Scotty. Expecting to be welcomed into the community in which she was raised, she is surprised to meet nothing but hostility from her neighbouring (and grouchy…and cantankerous) ranchers. Yet, she learns that she is only public enemy number two when she agrees to accommodate conservationist and “Wolf Man”, Wyatt Hunt.
Our Captivating Conservationist:
Wyatt Hunt loves his job. I mean, who wouldn’t love trawling the wild for wolf pups to cuddle and pet…ahem…I mean, tag and vaccinate? Returning to Arizona to monitor the wolf pack that he reintroduced (which, fearful for their herds, the ranchers of the area took extreme issue with), Wyatt is curious to meet Tandy, the daughter of the kind, old rancher that befriended him and gave him a place to stay. However, even he is amazed at just how much flack Tandy and Scotty take for renting to him. Wyatt needs to hustle, get the job done and hit the road before anybody gets hurt. Yet, the closer he gets to Tandy and the more comfortable he becomes playing accidental daddy to her son, the less he wants to leave.
I can’t imagine an environment further removed from where I grew up and currently live (locally and lovingly referred to as “the cold and frozen north”) than Arizona. The scenery, the ranch, the weather and all the sights and smells of the American state that I am yet to visit were clear as a bell in my mind. Roz Denny Fox does an excellent job in creating such a vivid image with minimal words (something that, as a writer, I continually aspire to).
From the off, Marrying the Rancher had a vibe of a lovely story of two people finding what they’ve been missing in life. On the flip side, however, I did struggle to find the spark that has me willing the leads together between Tandy and Wyatt. I also found the dialogue a bit unnatural, overly literal and explanatory. In fairness though, I do think that my inability to really latch on to it was partly a personal preference vs. style of writing issue. Rightly or wrongly, I was expecting a more modern adaptation of a well-loved Western premise. But in reality, Marrying the Rancher has a real air of the old-school romance about it which, as a general rule, isn’t really my cup of tea. However, if old school is your brew of choice, you’ll absolutely love this one.
Wanda-ometer rating for Marrying the Rancher:
Happily Ever After:
Marrying the Rancher is available for purchase from the following retailers: