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Summer Reads Spotlight:

Lost and Found Family and True Love Cowboy by Jennifer Ryan

by Beth Cranford

True story: this morning I sent Julie a message about two books I read recently by the same author, Jennifer Ryan. It went a little something like this:

Beth: I need to write down my thoughts about the two Jen Ryan books I read this weekend.

Julie: Oooo how were they?!

Beth: I love her books so I 100% enjoyed them. I’d actually read one of them before because I’ve had the ARC for a while and I love the series, so naturally I read it as soon as I got it. LOL I couldn’t wait even though I knew I’d read it again before I wrote a review for it 🤷🏻‍♀️

Julie: LOL I love that. There is nothing like that feeling of an anticipated book hitting the Kindle that you HAVE TO READ NOW.

Beth: YESSSSSSSS

Julie: Someone needs to bottle that shit.

Beth: We’d be overnight billionaires.

Clearly the conversation spiraled out of control from there, with us discussing what we’d do with our billions. Definitely go to Scotland, to fulfill Julie’s Scottish dreams since her husband has yet to. Also, find a beach to relax on with all the books and cocktails, find a nice warm fire to read by with all the books and spiked hot chocolate, and . . . well, I think you get the idea.

Regardless, the point is that there are some books you just cannot wait for. You sit though months of being patient, then they’re on your e-reader and you’re dropping everything to be able to start right now. A lot of Jennifer Ryan’s books are like that for me. I’ve been reading them for years and I know her style and stories are going to give me what I need. Feed my reader’s soul, if you’ll allow me some poetic license.

Of course, that meant having two on my Kindle at one time was cause for flail-inducing excitement.

“There is nothing like that feeling of an anticipated book hitting the Kindle

that you HAVE TO READ NOW.”

What two books am I talking about, you ask? Lost and Found Family, which releases July 6, 2021, and True Love Cowboy, the one mentioned above, which is out August 24, 2021. Both are cowboy books — though not related in anyway — and both left me feeling awash with good feels and ready for bed so I could get to work on imagining my life as the woman who captures a cowboy’s heart. (Side note: caught a redneck’s heart instead. It’s eye-opening, TBH, even after 15 years.) Basically, I loved both of these romance novels and you’d best believe they’re in the reread pile. Or in the case of True Love Cowboy, the re-read again pile.

Now, let’s get to the books themselves, starting with Lost and Found Family. If you recall, we did a Family Series Spotlight a few months back with Kaylee Ryan and Melanie Moreland, centered around the importance of family and the difference ways they can come together. In the case of Lost and Found Family, found family (à la the title) is where it’s at. Sarah is the widow of a man who left betrayal and heartache in his wake, along with a painful rift between her and his mother, Margaret and sister, Bridget, and all she wants is to piece her life — and family — together. Truly, the way Sarah is treated by Margaret and Bridget is almost painful to read; I was in my feels from page one as Sarah struggled to balance doing what she had to do, what she knew she should do, and what she wanted to do. Through it all, the mother in me — who would do most anything for her kids — tried to reconcile how a parent could be so obtuse to her son’s behavior and flaws with the knowledge that I would probably defend and believe my kiddos to the nth degree too, especially if they’d died young and unexpectedly.

Available July 06, 2021

Available August 24, 2021

Did I like Margaret? Oh, hell no. Did I maybe, sorta, unwillingly understand her position? Yes. And that’s one of the things I love about Ryan’s books; she can make you see things from a new perspective. Then she contrasts that with a love story that’s got a feeling of rightness and inevitability, even if, timeline-wise, they happen quickly. That’s what happens with Sarah and Griffin, and with Trinity and Jon from True Love Cowboy. They meet, sparks fly. They get to know one another, feelings grow. They spent time together, feelings deepen. The storm hits (metaphorically speaking, of course), they endure.

And my heart knows that it’s all going to be okay.

The conflict in Ryan’s books is, more often than not, brought on by external factors, and that works for me. I love seeing couples get tested and coming out stronger than ever. In the case of Griffin and Sarah, that test is relentless from the start — first, the hostile mother and sister-in-law, then a surprise “gift” left by the late husband — and through every I must know what happens next moment, I was sure of their HEA. Which, yeah okay, you could argue that all romance books have a for-sure HEA (or HFN, at the very least), but this is a different kind of surety, one that comes from the knowledge that, because they didn’t let the little things tear them apart at the first sign of trouble, their HEA is actually ever after.

Even once the book ends.

The same can be said for Trinity and Jon. True Love Cowboy is the third book in the McGrath series, and the fourth book featuring a McGrath sibling. (Tough Talking Cowboy, about the oldest McGrath, Drake, is part of the Wild Rose Ranch series, which I also (unsurprisingly) highly recommend.) Their test is a little more physical than the verbal and emotional insult that Sarah suffers, but nonetheless, it’s a test that the couple can bear together. And with the help of family. For Sarah, that means the family she builds from the wreckage of her old life. For Trinity and Jon, it’s the merging of two families who work together to build a better future for everyone.

I love that these are romances novels that are easy and sweet and heartfelt and cute, but not limited only to the love that the central couple finds. It radiates outward, encompassing all elements of the story. Does that mean that there are no storms? No, of course not. Ryan guides these couples and her readers through the dark moments, sometimes with necessary heartbreak and tears, and rewards them with a true fairytale ending.

True love. Found family. Books that you can count on to feed your soul, put a smile on your face, and open your mind to the possibility of finding a love like that. Books that you can’t wait even an extra minute to read because you’re that excited.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have anticipation to bottle and a Scottish dream to enable . . .

“Ryan guides these couples and her readers through the dark moments, sometimes with necessary heartbreak and tears, and rewards them with a true fairytale ending.”

If you love Jill Shalvis, Lori Wilde, and Susan Mallery, then you won’t want to miss New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Ryan’s riveting new novel about family, secrets, and a woman ready to embrace who she really is by facing down her past.

As Sara Anderson drives up to the house in Carmel, she knows she’s on an impossible quest to make peace with the one person who truly hate her. For years, Sara has hidden the truth about her late husband’s lies from their children and their grandmother. When her mother-in-law, Margaret, threatens her with legal action to see the boys, Sara strikes a bargain: she’ll bring them for a six-week visit, hoping the boys, at least, will find connection and happiness with their extended family.

It doesn’t help that attorney and part-time rancher Luke Thompson lives right next door, and as an old friend of the family’s he’s agreed to investigate Sara’s past. Luke doesn’t feel comfortable poking around in the very successful tech CEO’s private life. What he finds is a truth very different from the one he’s been led to believe. Far from being cold and unloving, Sara is devoted to her boys and as at home on the ranch as she is in a boardroom.

All Sarah ever wanted was a family, and all Luke wants now is her love. The time has come to reveal the terrible secrets that have been kept for so long. In losing the past, a new love—and family—can be found.

See Our Summer Reads Spotlight Series…

LAST GUARD

by Nalini Singh

“Despite all the action, all the aching glimpses into the past and the uncertainty that permeates the pages, Last Guard is a comforting read. It has veins of humor (because bears) and heart, it reminds that family is what you make it, that loyalty is earned not stolen, that things can be awful, terrible, no-good, very bad, and hope still exists. And in the world we’re currently living in, it’s kind of nice to know that.”

FINDING RONAN’S HEART

by Melanie Moreland

“Moreland gives us kids who are the right balance of Aiden’s hard-headedness caveman traits and Cami’s nurturing goodness. It’s why the angst is low to manageable in Finding Ronan’s Heart. Ronan has Aiden’s edge, but it’s softened by Cami’s motherly love. That’s some meta-level character development, and I freaking love it!”

About Beth

Beth Cranford was born and raised in Australia, but followed her heart (and her husband) to the United States in her late 20s. As the mother of two kids, she’s learned that you can turn anything into a song and that slime does not belong in carpeted areas (or polite society). You can most often find her with her Kindle in hand, listening to Taylor Swift on repeat, or spending way too many hours playing Animal Crossing.

Follow her @BethCranford on B+M Bites.

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