#Harlequin Heartwarming Series Book Review | “The Rancher’s Fake Fiancee” (Book Four: Return of the Blackwell Brothers) by Amy Vastine [of a five book series!]

Posted Monday, 7 January, 2019 by jorielov , , , , 1 Comment

Book Review badge created by Jorie in Canva using Unsplash.com photography (Creative Commons Zero).

Acquired Book By: I started hosting with Prism Book Tours at the end of [2017], having noticed the badge on Tressa’s blog (Wishful Endings) whilst I was visiting as we would partake in the same blog tours and/or book blogosphere memes. I had to put the memes on hold for several months (until I started to resume them (with Top Ten Tuesday) in January 2018). When I enquiried about hosting for Prism, I found I liked the niche of authors and stories they were featuring regularly. I am unsure how many books I’ll review for them as most are offered digitally rather than in print but this happily marks one of the blog tours where I could receive a print book for review purposes. Oft-times you’ll find Prism Book Tours alighting on my blog through the series of guest features and spotlights with notes I’ll be hosting on behalf of their authors.

This particular review is slightly different from my regular blog tours and hosting features for Prism Book Tours – as an opportunity came along this Summer to secure a spot on a ‘review tour’ rather than a ‘blog tour’ for a five-book series from Harlequin Heartwarming entitled “Return of the Blackwell Brothers”. This differs as each of the reviewers and book bloggers who are committing to this review tour are posting at different intervals as each of the five novels release which is also co-dependent on the format we are signed on to review.

My reviews will be showcased from August 2018 through January 2019 beginning with the first novel by Carol Ross. Only the first and second novel will showcase the book synopsis, author photograph and her biography as the rest of the tour will only feature the serial information which is also seen on this post. Each of us had the flexibility to choose when we are posting our reviews which was another added bonus to this particular review tour. I elected to post mine on Saturdays, as for the past four years Saturdays have been happily focused on Romances (previously strictly by ChocLit) and I am going to continue to expand this featured part of the week encompassing more Romances by both ChocLit and different publishers. Except for when I needed to post during the week in lieu of Saturday due to health issues or life in general.

I received a complimentary copy of “The Rancher’s Fake Fiancée” direct from the author Amy Vastine in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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Why I continue to feel attached & connected to the Blackwell Brothers:

My first impression of Ben Blackwell was about a close cousin to Rachel’s – he was brass, he was full of himself and he had only put miles in distance between his past and the present; he never had actually taken the time to heal emotionally from how he was wounded. That in of itself was a bit telling – as he had a boiling temper under his persona of a city lawyer who hadn’t the time nor the inclination to deal with a country lawyer such as Rachel. The fact the two were interlinked in their past was just another spur in his boot to be frank!

Rachel had her fair share of hard knocks – the fact she had a louse for an ex was only half the story, her dedication to her daughter Poppy is what shined out of her will not to lose her composure. For Rachel, you could tell she was trying to make the best choices she could – not to focus on the choices she had regrets over nor on the prospects of what a future could yield. Everything was a bit too far away for those kinds of considerations when you have a custody dispute where your wings are clipped and your options are running on empty. You feel for her because she’s a hard-working single Mum who has the unfair disadvantage of having her daughter’s father more concerned with legalities than the actual duties of being a father! Aye.

The vexations mounting on Rachel’s spirits were reaching new layers of angst – especially as you could definitely feel the energy in her unravelling. Here she was trying to hold everything together – carrying the weight of the family’s ranch on her shoulders, inking out an honest trade as a lawyer and juggling her ex in her life to boot! Something had to give and it felt like this old timer ranch hand Henry was past his date of retirement! There is nothing worse than someone who doesn’t see the urgency in what is needed to get done and that is what was vexing Rachel the most. Here she was trying to make do with what she had – work an honest day and still sort out the ranch which hadn’t been properly managed since her father’s death. You had to just give the girl credit for not wanting to take the easier route out and sell.

The more we get to see Rachel and Ben interacting with each other, the more complicated it all feels as these are two best friends who had become jaded in life. It wasn’t entirely their fault, even Ben is being placed in a bad spot by his grandfather Big E (who hasn’t?) and that was leading into a nightmare of a situation involving Rachel as she was trying to defend her own ranch against the rights his family has had all these years. If you looked at it from the outside – they were two individuals caught in the quicksand of bad choices others had made but were now the only people who could attempt to put things back to rights. And, there’s the rub – how do you remain angry at your former best friend?

-quoted from my review of The Rancher’s Redemption

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Return of the #BlackwellBrothers:

The Rancher’s Twins by Carol Ross → August 1st
The Rancher’s Rescue by Cari Lynn Webb → September 1st
The Rancher’s Redemption by Melinda Curtis → October 1st
The Rancher’s Fake Fiancée by Amy Vastine → November 1st
The Rancher’s Homecoming by Anna J. Stewart → December 1st

The Rancher's Fake Fiancee
Subtitle: Return of the Blackwell Brothers
by Amy Vastine
Source: Author via Prism Book Tours

Genres: Contemporary (Modern) Fiction (post 1945), Contemporary Romance, Heartland Fiction, Ranches & Cowboys, Western Fiction, Western Romance

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781335633859

Also in this series: Series Spotlight w/ Notes: Return of the Blackwell Brothers, The Rancher's Twins, The Rancher's Rescue, The Rancher's Redemption, The Rancher's Homecoming, Series Spotlight w/ Notes: Return of the Blackwell Brothers

Format: Larger Print (Mass Market Paperback)

Pages: 378

Published by: Harlequin Heartwarming (@HarlequinBooks) | imprint of Harlequin

Converse via: #Contemporary #Romance & #Harlequin

& #ReturnOfTheBlackwellBrothers

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About Amy Vastine

Be sure to visit the author online and find out what is she is releasing next!

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my review of the rancher’s fake fiancée:

Tyler reminds me dearly of Ben – workaholics to the core, unable to see the forest for the trees and can’t understand why their passionate drive is irritating to others would would prefer a more relaxed pace in a workplace! No wonder there was a small insurrection happening at his office! I would have joined the call to arms if it meant getting him to open his eyes to how pushing this hard would not lead anywhere good.

And, then there was Hadley – a woman who felt she was undeserving of being overlooked for a position she could do in her sleep! It was a classic case of hiring from within a family when that particular person doesn’t have the wherewithal to handle the job. For her, the only way she can even see a way out and up from this current stagnant rut she’s in professionally is to go along with Tyler insane proposal! Returning home under the guise of an engagement just to justify the opportunity to settle family ghosts and affairs whilst the rouse would give him a small edge on curbing his brothers’ enquiries about his personal life. Tyler isn’t one to play fair, something he could almost have taken out of Ben’s playbook, but what he does do well is his job. The irony though is that he does it so well – you had to question, in the end would he have time to enjoy the laurels?

I love the direction Vastine took to alight us back into the towne shortly after we left The Rancher’s Redemption as she re-aligned us immediately by having Tyler & Hadley have a bit of a run-in with Judge Edwards and Zoe! This was a brilliant move as it shows the shortness of time between the two installments whilst it also helps us understand the larger timeline of the series.

Before a twist in the plot was revealled by Ethan, I already knew what might be on his mind as there is one consistency with this series – it is about the hopefulness of re-finding your family at a time in your life where you are believing you are no longer in need of them. That’s all I will say – however, I was dearly curious how this plot direction would play out as of all the brothers thus far along, (though Ben was a close second!) I felt Tyler was the most stubborn-minded! He was bullish (ie. referring to the fierce stubborn nature of bulls) and single-minded; a task oriented bloke if there ever was one and he was not one to yield, bend or alter his thinking.

As we see him starting to re-interact with his brothers, you gather a sense of loss has already made the distance between them feel wider somehow; almost too large to cross and repair. Tyler has a burden weighing on his heart – one which it took Hadley to see within him and one you would hope his brothers might see if only to be in a position to where they might be able to reach out to him before it was too late to repair the damages. Tyler is protective of his privacy but also his internal thoughts, his emotional responses and any detail he feels would take down his defences to the point where he would be left vulnerable to others. I think that is his Achilles heel – vulnerability and being in touch with his emotional conscience.

Seeing how Hadley’s mother treats her, you can start to see how there are reasons why these two might have a chance at getting on with one another. Her mother is one gush-fest away from fainting in the shine of her son’s limelight in Hollywood. This wouldn’t be a problem, mind you, if she had equal admiration, affection and concern for Hadley but for whichever reason, the son was the highlight of her life and whenever she apparently interacted with Hadley, she treated her as the ‘lesser’ sibling. Highly unfair and yet, there was a crossover effect here where we could re-illustrate a few key issues Tyler has himself with Hadley’s constant affliction of being reminded she’s just not as good as an achiever as her brother. In that way, I felt Vastine truly pulled off the tension both of them were facing as well as giving enough foundation to make this believable.

Ooh, I am so wicked happy right now!! Vastine brought back Jon and Lydia! I’ve missed them for half an age now in the series – they were in the background (of course) but they didn’t really have a lot of speaking scenes til now! It was lovely to see them with the girls’ as Vastine brought us back to their lovely ranch, pulling everyone together in a different setting than leaving us on the Blackwell estate. I loved having that sequence inclusive to this story-line as to me, it felt like these two were swept under the rug a bit too much. They had such a strong story themselves, I had hoped they’d re-appear a bit more frequently and with more presence than they had! Eek. I love finding characters come back into sight when your reading a series you’re enjoying!

Hadley had one thing going for her – spontaneity, a trait Tyler used to have himself years ago before he morphed into someone even his brothers had trouble recognising. The ranch was warming itself into Hadley’s heart – the horses, the open air and mountains, the welcoming vibe she was catching from Tyler’s brothers; everything felt comfortable and relaxed. You can understand why there was this feeling of contentment in Hadley; it was almost as if the more she spent away from the big city, the more she could just relax into her skin.

At some point you just had to laugh – the Blackwell brothers had deep issues when it came to communication. They tried to lead with their heart and communicate how they felt, but somehow or other, everything said was either misinterpreted (especially by Tyler) or adding to the brewing row growing between them! They were fast to argue but slow to reconcile, that’s for sure! And, then, having Hadley in the middle of it all was the rub because she didn’t deserve to be placed in that kind of position.

The more they played at faking their engagement the more entangled they became with each other and left them with little wiggle room. It was was a great way to set-up the angst before a real relationship, too. Their play-acting brought out a lot of the left-over issues Tyler hadn’t faced from his past whilst with Hadley, it also brought out her insecurities and her ethics. She was questioning her motives whilst she was at the ranch yet more to the point, she was also discovering a part about herself she wasn’t expecting to find. She really could settle into the slower pace and the quiet stillness of the Rocky mountains. It held an appeal to her which felt as if the ties to this particular place were actually stronger than their passion for the city they had left.

This is why I loved this installment: it brought back to centre the entire back-history of the Blackwell family. This series is anchoured on its living histories – even Big E for all his glory and issues, he held his family close in his heart. Evident moreso by the time you reached the final chapter of this story but more to the point, the Blackwells were a family who held a resilience in them that gave them a bit of an edge on others. They didn’t back down easily and they knew when to fight for something important. The joy of reading the series, of course, is watching how all these entangled issues start to unravel and how the family itself learns to ‘heal’.

on the contemporary rom styling of amy vastine:

I delighted in getting to know that Ms Vastine is the elder sister of two brothers – as I noticed a bit of a trend in the writers behind this series are very familiar with siblings! I, am too, to a certain degree though from an outside perspective as I used to observe the behaviour patterns of siblings whilst in school. One year we had two sets of twin girls’ and I marvelled at how much they were alike and how vastly different they were – not just as twins but as a quartet! This is one reason why I think this series is an enjoyable read. The writers are putting a lot of their own experiences into their narratives and it is helping to shape the back-stories and present day trials of the Blackwells.

This installment felt a bit more seamless in transition as it echoed more of the original groundwork in the series. Each of the writers has their own unique style, voice and spin on the Blackwell Brothers – however, of the three I’ve read before this one, this one felt closer to the first narrative voice where we first learnt who the Blackwell Brothers are and why this series is centred round their second chance at brotherhood.

Vastine also nails how to bridge all the characters back into the narrative – where she gives ample time to each of the characters we’ve come to appreciate in the series to a level of rotation I was clapping in joy to read. I really felt she understood how to re-centre the series – by creating this bridge between the first three installments and the fourth, whilst giving us a proper refresher on everyone’s quirks before we moved into the fifth and final installment. I truly applaud how she managed to do this as it was fastly become my favourite novel in the series outside of the first!

The setting is dearly appealling as the ranch the Blackwell Brothers own is in Montana – nestled with a backdrop of the Rockies, the brothers surely have a lovely sky to look out over everyday. Outside of the continuity she maintained, she put her own spin on the brothers and she enlarged our view of the large ensemble cast this series has become to include. I love larger casts in novels but sometimes, you find some of the characters get forsaken for others or sometimes, the ones you want to come back into sight yield to the current ones being focused upon. I give Ms Vastine full credit for giving us a chance to catch-up with everyone we’ve met thus far along but also, allowing us to feel as if we’ve maintained a connection to them from start to finish.

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I can’t believe I only have *one!* #ReturnOfTheBlackwellBrothers novel left to read! This series has been a delightful experience for me – it is one of the first multi-author mini-series I’ve read and being on a review tour was a new experience for me as a book blogger. I am thankful I started to take a chance on #HarlequinHeartwarming stories as they started to change my opinion about reading Contemporary Romances (along with my INSPY wanderings, of course!) – these writers write uplifting Contemporaries with realistic characters!!

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a note of gratitude to ms vastine:

I, originally was not meant to receive The Rancher’s Fake Fiancée – as I don’t believe the paperbacks would have made it onto the reviewer tour in time. I wanted to extend a personal note of gratitude to Ms Vastine for giving us all the joyful pleasure of continuing to read this series in order start to finish without interruptions. I had fully planned to read this novel but if my library wasn’t able to acquire it in time for the tour, I would have had to withhold reading it til after January. Be as it were – with my health issues this past Autumn, I never had the chance to seek it out. When my copy arrived in the Post, I was overjoyed and full of thankfulness to the author. She had taken one worry off my heart as I truly wanted to stick with this series without any breaks; she allowed me to read this the way I had hoped I could and for that, I am truly blessed.

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A note of apology:

Recently, Prism Book Tours was reaching out to us on the review tour questioning where our missing reviews were – I have not had one day this New Year where I’ve felt ‘well’, as the last day I felt ‘alright’ was New Year’s Eve. I decided to try reading again this weekend to see if it might help take my mind off my slow recovery; thankfully, it is starting to work whilst the instrumental music I selected as a backdrop is also just as soothing. I fixed an issue this weekend where there was a delay in sharing my review of The Rancher’s Redemption (as this was the last I could read before 2019), however, I haven’t even had a chance to respond to most of my Inbox.

I fell ill with a bad Winter virus three weeks before Christmas – it was the worst virus I’ve had in almost a decade. Even now, as the New Year has begun, I am still struggling day to day to shake off its effects. I’ll spare the details, but it is a walk in patience to come back from this – lately, I’ve been seeing messages by fellow book bloggers and/or writers who also succumbed to this horrid virus. I’m in my fourth week now – (the first week of January, 2019) – sorting out my blog is taking a bit extra time, as I was offline until the 5th.

I am releasing the final two Return of the Blackwell Brothers reviews this week (Monday) – which will hug next to my first blog tour of the New Year: No Safe Place (on Tuesday). Meanwhile, my final review for this series will be featured during #BackListThursday on the 17th of January. Here’s to positive thoughts about this virus being the only one any of us have to deal with this year… it is a beast to put it plainly.

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Do you get equally as giddy as I do over limited series?

Do you *love!* #amreading Contemporary Westerns & Cowboy/Ranch narratives?

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This review tour is courtesy of: Prism Book Tours

Prism Book Tours

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I look forward to reading your thoughts & commentary!
Especially if you read the book or were thinking you might be inclined to read it.
I appreciate hearing different points of view especially amongst
readers who gravitate towards the same stories to read.
Bookish conversations are always welcome!

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Reading this novel counted for a few of my New Year Reading Challenges & Focuses:

#ContemporaryJanuary | #LateAthon

Beat the Backlist banner created by Austine at A Novel Knight and is used with permission.

I will be sharing this lovely review across these events!

This review is cross-posted to LibraryThing.

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{SOURCES: Cover art of “The Rancher’s Twins”, “The Rancher’s Rescue” & “The Rancher’s Redemption”, “The Rancher’s Fake Finaceé” and “The Rancher’s Homecoming” as well as the synopsis for “The Rancher’s Twins”, the author photo of Cari Lynn Webb and her biography; the promo badge for the Return of the Blackwell Brothers series and the Prism Book Tours badge were all provided by Prism Book Tours and used with permission. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Beat the Backlist banner provided by novelknight.com and is being used with permission. Tweets embedded by codes provided by Twitter. Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva: Book Review Banner using Unsplash.com (Creative Commons Zero) Photography by Frank McKenna and the Comment Box Banner.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2019.

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About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Monday, 7 January, 2019 by jorielov in Blog Tour Host, Book Review (non-blog tour), Contemporary Romance, Farm and Ranching on the Frontier, Indie Author, Prism Book Tours, Romance Fiction, Western Fiction, Western Romance

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One response to “#Harlequin Heartwarming Series Book Review | “The Rancher’s Fake Fiancee” (Book Four: Return of the Blackwell Brothers) by Amy Vastine [of a five book series!]

  1. Great review, Jorie! I think it’s quite challenging to write series reviews which engage the reader of your post while not giving too much away. You’ve definitely intrigued me. Are all the books in this series set in the same community? Or is it just that all the brothers are related? I’m sure you’ve covered it in a different post I just haven’t read!

    I’m sorry you haven’t been feeling well and thus are behind on reviews. As we’ve discussed, that’s not a great feeling. :( Be patient with yourself as you catch up. Life just gets in the way of what we want to do sometimes.

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