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The Friday Fix-Up

by Beth Cranford

It’s the end of another long week, and I know I’m already thinking ahead to what I’m going to be doing with my free time this weekend. My free time that isn’t interrupted by kids, housework, dogs, my husband, and…well, the list goes on. But free time IS coming, and I know exactly what I want to do with it.

Hint: it starts with “R” and ends with “ing” and if you’re thinking anything other than “reading,” then I have some questions for you. First of all, how dare you? Secondly, what was the first word that came to your mind if not reading? I’m crazy curious now. Thirdly, I’d better get back to the point of this post or else we’ll both be here all weekend and that negates the need for this post in the first place —

*Ahem* Allow me to try again. It’s nearly the weekend and if there’s one thing I love about weekends, it’s all the extra time I have for my favorite sport, reading.

But every Friday brings with it a dilemma of potentially epic proportions. Yes, that may be a touch dramatic, but there is a question that’s whispered among readers the world over, one that has many and no answers at the same. One that I am going to give you an answer to right now…

THE QUESTION: WHAT AM I GOING TO READ THIS WEEKEND?!

THE ANSWER: ONLY A COWBOY WILL DO BY A.J. PINE

I’ll be honest, there are times when I can articulate what I’d like to say about a book rather quickly after finishing. And then there are times when I need to let the words percolate before I can write them down. In the case of A.J. Pine’s Only a Cowboy Will Do, it really could’ve gone either way.

You see, my first reaction after closing this book was giddy excitement and all the feel good feels. That review would’ve been a pretty mess of fangirl happiness over a book that melded two wonderful series with one happily ever after. Not bad, not at all, but perhaps a wee bit over the top. And no one needs over the top when they’re mere hours from a weekend of relaxing reading, right? So, instead of word vomiting my enjoyment of Only a Cowboy Will Do upon you, I decided to play it cool a little. Think playing hard to get, but with a book. (Yes, I realize this may seem strange but if you know me at all, you’ll know that strange is kinda my thing.)

Anyway, my hope was, by giving myself time to let Colt and Jenna’s story settle, I’d be able to say what I want to say with more gravity. I’d also like to inspire in you confidence that my Friday Fix-Up answer is the right answer. So, here goes: Only a Cowboy Will Do is a charming romance, with so much heart — and a deep vein of emotion — that, days later, I find myself still thinking about, and smiling over, it.

I am contractually obligated to share pretty pictures with you. Not actually, but I feel like I’d be failing you if I didn’t. And there’s nothing much prettier than a cowboy *swoons*

The story is deceptively simple: Jenna, having just turned 40, is finally “free” after raising her not-so-much-younger nephews after the death of their mother and the heartbreaking change that it wrought in their father. She doesn’t regret her sacrifice — it’s clear that her delight in the three men finding love and family is genuine — but she does feel that she’s missed a part of life that she’d like to try to rediscover during the two-week vacation those same nephews gifted her for the big 4-0.

And that’s where Colt comes in. He’s an acquaintance of her nephews, a partial owner in the ranch where she’s to stay, and her ride from Oak Bluff to Meadow Valley. Oh, and he’s several years younger than Jenna — and if that sounds like an afterthought, then that’s okay. Although a part of their journey to HEA, it’s handled with little fanfare, because why should it matter, when love is in the air? Their meet-cute is exactly that — Colt is expecting a much older (read: elderly) woman and his surprise at meeting her is smile-inducing. There’s a psychic chicken, some ill-fated cookies, one definite trap of a question, and a whole truckload of chemistry.

From there, this book only gets better and better. Jenna and Colt both have their reasons for wanting to keep their “fling” on a timer, but it’s obvious to anyone watching — err, make that reading — that these two are fated. At every turn, their connection feels genuine, palpable, and all I wanted to do was make it jump off the page and into my real life. (With me as Jenna, obvs.)

ONLY A COWBOY WILL DO IS A CHARMING ROMANCE, WITH SO MUCH HEART — AND A DEEP VEIN OF EMOTION — THAT, DAYS LATER, I FIND MYSELF STILL THINKING ABOUT, AND SMILING OVER, IT.”

Since I couldn’t do that, I did the next best thing. I straight up, flat out, enjoyed the hell out of it. Even knowing what potentially lay ahead couldn’t stop me from becoming invested in these two. From the clear message that family is what you make it, to the idea that it’s never too late to find something special, and all the swoony, sweet, and shattering moments in between, Only a Cowboy Will Do has all the qualities I know that I long for when I crack open a book on the weekend — and all the ones that lead to giddy excitement and all the feel good feels. And really, what’s better than giddy excitement and all the feel good feels on the weekend?

I’m not really expecting you to answer that, by the way, but if you said something like chocolate, then please know that I agree with you and that this book can be enjoyed with a hefty dose of the good stuff. Ooh, or with ice cream, because it’s Jenna favorite and there’s also this scene where —

You know what? I’m not going to tell you. I’m going to let you find out for yourselves when you read this book, which I strongly suggest you do this weekend. After all, I’m fixing you up with it, aren’t I? Call me the Book Matchmaker, or something a little quippier and cuter. (I’ll work on it, okay?)

Forty candles, and one for luck. Jenna Owens wants one thing for her birthday this year: a fairy-tale ending of her own and a little relaxation at a quaint California ranch. What she didn’t want was to get caught in a storm on her way to Meadow Valley. Or to get stuck with a ridiculously hot, too-charming-for-his-own-good cowboy—one who makes Jenna reconsider her “I don’t date younger guys” rule. But a little vacation flirtation might be just what she needs.

Colt Morgan isn’t interested in long-term relationships. Not since his last one crashed and burned after his fiancée found out he wanted a big family. So when he learns that Jenna has a list of items to accomplish on her trip—including having fling—Colt is all too happy to oblige. Yet the more he and Jenna get to know each other, the more Colt starts to wonder if maybe they have a chance at a real future. But when Jenna’s past upends everything Colt thought he wanted, are all bets off? Or will they find a way to make both their dreams come true?

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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