A #SaturdaysAreBookish Book Review | The Rancher’s Wyoming Twins (Book One: Back to Adelaide Creek) by Virginia McCullough

Posted Saturday, 30 April, 2022 by jorielov , , , , 2 Comments

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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. This is how I came to love discovering the Harlequin Heartwarming authors & series as much as it has been an honour to regularly request INSPY stories and authors. Whenever I host for Prism, I know I am in for an uplifting read and a journey into the stories which give me a lot of joy to find in my readerly queue of #nextreads. It is an honour to be a part of their team of book bloggers.

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

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Why I enjoy reading a Virginia McCullough
Harlequin Heartwarming novel:

In this installment of Back to Bluestone River, I was happy to see an intergenerational plotting – wherein Amy is with her grandmother and there is a history of grandparents raising children in the storyline. Lately, I’ve been enjoying finding intergenerational stories – where different role models and guardians are being explored in the context of Contemporary stories. It is a refreshing twist and one I think should be celebrated more often as there are a lot of children who live in non-conventional families and those families should be represented more as I am loving how Ms McCullough presented Amy’s presence in her grandmother’s life.

Bluestone River is one of those communities which is thinking about how it wants to make positive progress into their own towne’s future. There is something to be said for that kind of thinking – of where a towne considers all angles of new proposals but also takes stock into consideration how they want to grow rather than just growing without a firm plan in mind to execute. Too often I think smaller townes grow too fast and they all start to look like a commercial zone of big box stores and differing styles of architecture without any cohesive way of bridging the towne and their aesthetic together. It was nice to see this discussion taking place and having a community question what is motivating their future endeavours as the towne continues to grow.

Ms McCullough brought the continuity together beautifully between installments – as Eric is the mutual friend of our first Bluestone River sweethearts, Ruby and Mike. It wasn’t lost on me the connection between the title’s metaphor and the symbolism of the bridge being in jeopardy throughout the storyline – not to mention that this story took place during my favourite season of Winter! Everything was percolating so well in this installment – from how the community was rallying together to discuss their future plans for development and to how Amy needed to find her footing in her choices to return to Bluestone River. Even Eric was at a crossroads in his life wherein he needed to sort through what was motivating him and the choices he needed to be making for himself as he looked towards where he wanted to be in the next chapter of his life. This is a story about choices and owning them once they are made as everyone needs a boost of confidence at different junctions of their lives.

I felt this installment brought me back to centre – back to where I originally felt hugged close into the series within the pages of A Family for Jason. Bluestone River has a way of settling into your heart because its the kind of towne where you can either return home after a long absence or it is a towne where you can move to redefine your life and have your own new beginning. What keeps you rooted in the series is the familiar way in which McCullough makes you feel like you’ve gone home yourself – Back to Bluestone River!

-quoted from my review of A Bridge Home

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I need to preface this with a note about why I am posting my ruminative thoughts several days after my previously scheduled tour stop for this lovely blog tour. On Monday, I had one of the worst ocular migraines of my life – so much so, I had to call in sick from my night job and had to take straight to sleep as it was one of those supernova ones where you have to just rest and obliterate all light from reaching your eyes. Over five hours of sleep and I was feeling a bit more like ‘me’ but not quite to the point I’d say I was back to ‘normal’ either Monday night. By Tuesday, as much as I wanted to resume my life where I had left it the night before it wasn’t until Wednesday morning I felt I had turnt the corner and things were starting to feel like I had reached a healthier patch of road again. Despite that, I asked for an extension to read this novel as I didn’t want to push my eyes past the point they could go with reading and blogging; as sometimes even with traditional migraines it takes me hours/days to recover to the point I can read or blog again.

Ergo, I asked to post this on Saturday giving me more time to read and allowing my eyes not to feel too overwhelmed by reading too fast, too soon. Unfortunately, I had some other health issues arise this weekend which delayed me from sharing my thoughts until late morning rather than earlier as I had planned. It also pushed forward other reviews I was meant to feature this week as well. I was grateful to be on the tour, as Prism is winding down for the Summer and might be on an extended hiatus thereafter. As my regular readers know, I am full of gratitude to Prism (especially to Tressa) for encouraging me to first pick up Heartwarming novels and the journey as a book blogger hosting these authors and series has been a true joy of mine these past six years.

Ms McCullough is beginning a new series now with The Rancher’s Wyoming Twins and I was grateful to be part of the reviewers on the tour as most of the Western Romances I read are either inclusive of Colorado or Montana; it isn’t too often I get to travel into Wyoming and it was a special treat of joy to find this series settled there. Of course, when the Blackwells return this Summer, I’ll be travelling into Wyoming as well (ie. Blackwell Brothers series) but for now, it felt fitting to be in Wyoming and following the adventures therein.

NOTE: The Blackwell series is by fellow Heartwarming authors: Anna J. Stewart, Carol Ross, Melinda Curtis, Amy Vastine and Cari Lynn Webb. It started with Return of the Blackwell Brothers, followed by the Blackwell Sisters and I believe its the Blackwell Cousins this Summer but I haven’t confirmed that yet but the stories are set in Wyoming not Montana.

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A #SaturdaysAreBookish Book Review | The Rancher’s Wyoming Twins (Book One: Back to Adelaide Creek) by Virginia McCulloughThe Rancher's Wyoming Twins
Subtitle: Back to Adelaide Creek
by Virginia McCullough
Source: Author via Prism Book Tours

Her worst enemy...

Could bring her heart home

Heather Stanhope wants to despise the man who now owns the ranch her family lost. But Matt Burton is raising his late sister’s adorable twins, loves horses, and is known for his loyalty and honesty. Sneaking into Adelaide Creek for her friend’s wedding, Heather hopes to avoid Matt, but fate and family have them crossing paths. Heather knows falling for Matt means risking her heart, but it’s a risk she can’t resist.

Genres: Contemporary (Modern) Fiction (post 1945), Romance Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Western Romance

Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 78-1335426680

Also by this author: A Family for Jason, The Christmas Kiss, A Bridge Home

Published by Harlequin Heartwarming

on 29th March, 2022

Format: Larger Print (Mass Market Paperback)

Pages: 384

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Back to Adelaide Creek series:

The Rancher’s Wyoming Twins (book one)

The Doc’s Holiday Homecoming (book two) *forthcoming November, 2022!

Keep up with this series via FantasticFiction!

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

Converse via: #ContemporaryRomance, #WesternRomance and #HarlequinHeartwarming

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About Virginia McCullough

Virginia McCullough

Born and raised in Chicago, Virginia McCullough has been lucky enough to develop her writing career in many locations, including the coast of Maine, the mountains of North Carolina, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and currently, Northeast Wisconsin. She started her career in nonfiction, first writing articles and then books as a ghostwriter and coauthor. She’s written more than 100 books for physicians, business owners, professional speakers and many others with information to share or a story to tell.

Virginia’s books feature characters who could be your neighbors and friends. They come in all ages and struggle with everyday life issues in small-town environments that almost always include water—oceans, lakes, or rivers. The mother of two grown children, you’ll find Virginia with her nose a book, walking on trails or her neighborhood street, or she may be packing her bag to take off for her next adventure. And she’s always working on another story about hope, healing, and second chances.

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My review of the rancher’s wyoming twins:

I felt immediately comfortable settling into this story – mostly because curating dried herbs and an herb garden have been on my list of life goals for as long as I’ve wanted to have a small backyard garden full of fresh veg and fresh cut flowers. Where I currently live – the Spring season is blinkered off into Summer before you can wrap your head round the fact Winter only lasted two months on a bad year and three on a good. The soil isn’t much for growing either which is why I love reading stories about fertile land and a strong four season climate which is healthier than the one I reside in myself. McCullough brought to life the simplicity of growing your own resources in such a captivating way, I felt I was almost able to smell the herbs myself and breathe in the fresh Spring air as well.

Sheep and wool are a mainstay of the story which couldn’t have delighted me more as I’m a knitter who loves using natural materials in her projects. I regularly watch a podcast (via YT) about a family who raise llamas but I oft wondered if I ought to one day raise sheep or goats myself. There is something to be said for a farm as much as I enjoy living in a city, the rural areas beckon to me for a different reason altogether. I especially enjoyed how McCullough described the addition of the Icelanders (a breed of sheep) into the flock – as it was a special touch of how to cleverly talk about new animals becoming part of a larger group of sheep already established and settled.

I appreciated seeing the farm before we shifted over to becoming introduced to Matt. It helped lay the groundwork of why this place affected Heather to the extent it had and why being back ‘home’ when ‘home’ no longer feels like home. Matt on the other hand was raising his niece and nephew for the past four years and was just starting to feel as if he had a handle on parenthood. His life was equally emotionally scarred as Heather’s but in a different way. His mind also was plagued with memory and loss of a different kind whilst he tried to keep himself rooted in the present. You could feel the gravity of what he felt responsible to carry on his shoulders too and that is a credit to McCullough on how she introduced him to us.

I liked the spunk of Matt’s Mum and how wise she was to observe the situations happening around her a bit more intuitively than Matt. He for whichever reason was more nonchalant about being connected to the same wedding as Heather; as he was the fill-in groom whereas she was the bride’s maid. Apparently his mother understood these things far better than he as he hadn’t quite understood the loss of a family’s land to the extent in which it affected Heather. Apparently he was only seeing it from his perspective and that is where I smiled knowing how true his own mother’s words were on behalf of the situation he didn’t realise he was walking into when it came to Heather.

Their first meeting at the annual Spring Fling was the best way I felt to put them on neutral ground. Of course, Heather still harbours her own reasons for not wanting to cosy up to Matt but Matt for whichever reason seemed to be trying to dispell her concerns and at least find a way to be civil. I had a feeling Heather’s apprehension ran deeper than they both realised in that first moment of meeting, too. The Spring Fling was the kind of festival I wish were more present in other places – where you could find artisan crafts and supplies (such as fresh wool or fibre) as much as having the array of food and entertainment that celebrates community and homespun fun. Those kinds of festivals are popular but they aren’t always available in all communities anymore. Quite sad really.

As we start to unpack more about Heather’s family, I was happily surprised to find her mother was an artist. McCullough definitely took time to etch out a lot of history into this first installment of the series but it was done in such a beautiful symphony of discovery. As you follow her characters through their living hours, you get to learn more about Adelaide Creek and of course, their families. She tucked in humble moments of remembrance as well such as when Heather and Jen were looking at her mother’s paintings. Or when Cookie was reconnecting with Heather at the Spring Fling; as she was one of her mother’s best friends. Little nuances of time and presence in a community which was both growing larger and still remaining small towne friendly gave the best impression of McCullough’s vision for this series. You felt at home even before you realised it.

From horse-back riding excursions to fundraisers and festivals; I had a feeling Heather was becoming so integrated back into her hometown she might not realise the stubborn need she had to exit it again might diminish with time! I understood the fact she had too many ghosts coming to haunt her whilst she was trying her best to focus on her best friend and her wedding; to be there for her and not to dwell on what couldn’t be changed. And, yet, part of the Adelaide Creek we were viewing through her time here as a bridesmaid was leading into new paths of how she could in theory find a way to come ‘home’.

I loved the fact McCullough had a non-traditional bride and wedding in this novel. She truly celebrated the freedom of choice women have today in planning a wedding which suits not just their personal needs as a couple but also their choices in what they want to happen during the wedding as much as ahead of it. It was lovely getting to tagalong with Bethany (the bride) and Heather in the days leading up to the wedding itself – as Bethany was as self-sufficient and confident in her independent thinking as Heather was herself. It was wonderful to see but also humbling because there was a time where tradition would outweigh personal conviction and it is great to know how far we’ve come for those choices to remain our own to make in today’s world.

The most enduring part of the story were the soft echoes of life and endurance about Adelaide herself – as she stepped through time to have a presence in Heather’s life now. Heather hadn’t focused on her history previously nor did she have an interest in understanding what motivated Adelaide and what inspired her courage as she lived her life during a time in the townes history where just to take a risk like ranching was a brave act. The beauty of what changed in Heather is how McCullough layered both womens’ stories together and found similarities of both women realising they could direct their own futures. I appreciated the gentle touches of Adelaide being inclusively connected to Heather’s current path and how the two women mirror each other in so many distinctive ways including their appearances. This became one of my favourite threads of the story because of how interpersonal McCullough made it feel to us as readers.

It was such a beautiful slow-brewing romance which allowed you to tuck close to the characters and enjoy the ambiance of Adelaide Creek. A towne small in population but big in heart and charm. The community rallies behind each other and like the tides in an ocean, the seasons of ranching ebb and flow year to year. It is how the ranchers set their attitudes to endure during the difficulties which arise which make the years sweeter and the work worthwhile. Yet, it was how McCullough painted the whole portrait of this kind of lifestyle against the warmth of seeking family and home which made the story even more enjoyable for me. I cannot wait to read the sequel especially as I’m hopeful the doctor in the next story is the charming pediatrician we met in this debut!

On the Contemporary writing style of Virginia Mccullough:

I loved the descriptive details McCullough painted into the background – especially as she talked about the landscape of where we were meeting Heather as she was on the land adjacent to her family’s old spread. Being with her best friends’ mother and working outside offered a unique perspective but also should how memory and time can play tricks on the mind. A very easy space to have melancholy overtake you and where you have to fight to re-settle your thoughts onto something a bit more positive than what went wrong in the past. I also appreciated how she talked about the road trip through the Upper Mid-West as it brought back fond memories of my own trek through those same states with my Mum. We spent four years on the road and went over 15,000 miles crisscrossing through the Upper Mid-West, through the Mid-Atlantic and the Northeast as well as the Southeast, too. There is something special about seeing America from the road and about the unexpected roads you find yourself on whilst your journeying to a particular destination.

McCullough spent a lot of thoughtful time engaging us into the back-stories and back-histories of both Heather and Matt; especially in regards to their emotional states and where they were presently in the timeline of the story. She didn’t rush the facts nor give her characters a quick turnaround when it came to how their emotions dictated their actions. I appreciated that because it was realistically plausible to watch Matt and Heather go through the story; each of them dealing with a different kind of loss and sorting out the best path forward. Writers can sometimes resolve things too fast for me but in this instance, I appreciated the organic method McCullough used to show realistic progress within the novel’s timeline.

Another layer of keen applause from me about this story and the accompanying series it is beginning is how Adelaide Creek is named for a person and whose history is not just rooted to the family who settled in this area originally but to the landscape of where it is situated in the mountains. I felt this would provide a lot of good fodder for future installments in the series as well as allowing for further entreaties into the community as well as expanding into different lives of the characters therein. I love when series have such a firm foundation of its environment and then, as the series evolves you feel as if you’ve seen the full picture told story by story. This is why I love the series I read and why Heartwarming makes reading serial romance such a heap of fun.

I wasn’t sure if Adelaide’s story was inspired by a real-life account of a person or persons (ie. perhaps a composite of different people?) found through ancestral research or towne records – but her story in this novel reminded me of my own pursuit of family history and how inspired I was growing up learning of the work my Mum and grandfather made towards unearthing our own relatives and the journeys they had taken themselves throughout their lives as they charted their progress through Census accounts and other traces left behind in records. It is something I love to this day – the pursuit of the past through research and I could tell McCullough herself shares this passion as she wrote Adelaide into the story as if one of the Stanhopes themselves had hoped pieces of their lives would be self-contained to be shared for future generations by the pieces of their own lives left behind to be found today in Adelaide Creek.

Equality in Lit: Kinship Adoption

One of the topics which is close to my heart are stories which involve adoption or foster care as I’m a Prospective Adoptive Mum in the future who will be adopting through domestic foster care myself. However, in this instance – McCullough focused on kinship adoption which means if something happens to the parents, another person in the family related to the children can step forward and adopt the children. McCullough not only presented the back-story about the twins in this story and the tragedy which caused their separation from their parents but she also included such a wonderful thread of how their grandmother and Uncle were present in their lives. I truly appreciated the route she took to highlighting this kind of adoption and of owning the difficulties therein when it comes to shouldering the tragic loss and of coping with everyday life thereafter.

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I want to thank Ms McCullough for thinking of me when she enclosed a bookmark for me – I can NEVER have enough bookmarks – I am forever putting them into the books I’m currently trying to make progress with reading and that leads me to running ‘out’ of bookmarks. I am dearly thankful whenever an author thinks of us by enclosing a bookmark or two whilst sending us a note as well. Always happy #bookmail from the authors of Harlequin Romance, Love Inspired & Harlequin Heartwarming!!

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This blog tour is courtesy of: Prism Book Tours

Prism Book Tours

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By clicking this banner you can find out about the giveaway associated with the tour;
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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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This review will be cross-posted to LibraryThing.

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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 Saturday, 30 April, 2022 by jorielov in #SaturdaysAreBookish, 21st Century, Adoption, Ancestry & Genealogy, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host, Bookmark slipped inside a Review Book, Brothers and Sisters, Contemporary Romance, Family Drama, Family Life, Life Shift, Modern Day, Nurses & Hospital Life, Orphans & Guardians, Prism Book Tours, Romance Fiction, Siblings, Single Fathers, Sisterhood friendships, Small Towne Fiction, Small Towne USA, Twin Siblings, West Coast USA, Western Romance, Wyoming

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2 responses to “A #SaturdaysAreBookish Book Review | The Rancher’s Wyoming Twins (Book One: Back to Adelaide Creek) by Virginia McCullough

  1. Bea LaRocca

    Thank you for sharing your wonderful review of this book and author, The Rancher’s Wyoming Twins sounds like an amazing story and I am looking forward to reading it myself

    • You’re most welcome! :) Such a lovely note to read after work — I appreciate your words and sentiments; especially as I felt so dearly attached inside this world and community Ms McCullough has created! Honestly, I cannot wait to return — so happy I’ve given you the joy I had myself as I read the story. May you find the same happiness I did when you get the chance to read it, too!

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