Acquired Book By: I’ve come to know this series [Heroes of Shelter Creek] through hosting the blog tours celebrating releases within the series with Prism Book Tours. However, this September in lieu of an organised blog tour Ms McEwen was seeking book bloggers who were interested in her series and wanted to read the fourth novel in the series “Rescuing the Rancher”. Whilst I was conferring with the author about receiving this for review, I asked if I could receive the second novel in the series “After the Rodeo” as I never had the chance to read Jace and Vivian’s story! I was thankful that Ms McEwen was also available to be a featured guest during my @SatBookChat wherein I celebrate Romance, Women’s Fiction, strong female characters across genres and Feminist Lit on Saturdays each month.
I decided to read and feature “After the Rodeo” ahead of her #SatBookChat appearance and run my review during my #RomanceTuesdays feature wherein I love to showcase Harlequin Heartwarming and Love Inspired authors as they are writing the kinds of Romances I am appreciating most to be reading right now.
I received a complimentary copy of “After the Rodeo” direct from the author Claire McEwen in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.
This is one of my top favourite #CowboyRomances by Harlequin Heartwarming:
When I was checking my feeds on Twitter a short while ago, I stumbled on an announcement by Ms McEwen who was seeking book bloggers to read and review her latest release of the Heroes of Shelter Creek series – wherein I was most excited seeing the notice posted as this is one of the Western & Cowboy Romance series I love reading the most published by Harlequin Heartwarming!
I wasn’t sure if I would be in time to request the book for review, but I immediately emailed the author and the rest knitted together out of that conversation! I am so thankful I contacted her when I had as it lead me to being reading this second of the series I had missed between books one and three as much as I have been wanting to host more of the authors I love via Harlequin Heartwarming and/or Love Inspired Suspense – having the Blackwell Brothers / Sisters authors booked during @SatBookChat in October, it was a lovely surprise to have Ms McEwen booked for early September!
If you’re a ready reader of Westerns and Western Romances, I hope this showcase might inspire you to give Harlequin Heartwarming a chance at winning over your love of Westerns because the authors who are writing these stories are writing wicked brilliant characters with stories which lift your spirits as you’re reading them! Plus, the settings alone are awe-inspiring and give you the kind of Western experience you are hoping for in a Western Rom!
One interesting turn at the beginning of the novel was learning about the changing tides of the cattle industry – how traditional cattlemen and ranchers wanted to turn towards a greener and healthier way of producing their product and why that was an important resurgency in how they could maintain their ranches. Not that all ranchers were open to innovative changes which McEwen happily discloses within Liam’s own family as his brothers are spilt on the issue whilst their father is keenly invested in learning more – hence, how we find Liam is the chosen one to visit with Jace in Shelter Creek!
I, for one love all sorts of Western Romances however it is a bit rarer when within a Contemporary Western we get to talk about how ranching is trying to change its habits and become a more sustainable industry. Across the board farmers and ranchers are having to diversify their yields yearly due to different issues in climate and how to sustain themselves during leaner years wherein I felt broaching the topic of how they approach ranching their land and their cattle is also a valid point because there is a stark difference between big industry and keeping family ranchers in business by modifying their practices to reach a more educated consumer about the differences in those practices. To say I was wholly intrigued by how this novel began is putting it mildly!
Liam is at a cornerstone of his life – where he has to choose to step forward into his future rather than constantly think he cannot handle what life has to offer. This is an intriguing story about redemption – how a man can redeem his own image and identity of himself post trauma and addiction and redirect his own life back onto a purposeful path which renews his own spirit. The foundation of how McEwen laid that down for us to find was lovely because there was a moment where I felt Jace could inspire Liam simply by someone who had gone before him and had to re-alter his own opinion about what life could involve for a man who had a determined view of his own path. Even though I hadn’t had the chance to read After the Rodeo, McEwen gave some lovely hints toward Jace’s own story where I felt I could intuit why she wanted Liam closer to Jace during this transitional period of his own life.
Trisha has such a unique job at the wildlife center – I remember visiting those whilst growing up and wondering about the people who worked there. As I was fascinated how close the handlers could get to the wild animals and how much trust was between the handler and/or trainer and the animal themselves – this is one reason why I love watching shows and series like Crikey! It’s the Irwins because you get to see inside this hidden world of where animals and humans have united together for their own protection and conservation. Trisha has a heart of gold though – even though her life’s story is unconventional – it just suits her personality because she adapts to whatever is happening in her life in the moment. I liked her instantly where we find her in Her Surprise Cowboy because of how earnest she is about finding what Jace and Vivian share between them and how confident she is in her own abilities to give back to the center.
It was humbling coming into Jace and Vivian’s life a bit second-handed to get to know them in such an interpersonal way – because a lot of what anchoured Liam and Trisha together was through the fusion of friendship with Jace and Vivian. They really stepped up to the plate to help out their friends whilst they also offered a lot of heartfelt mentoring. Jace especially gave a lot back to Liam – as I had a feeling they would relate to one another as I was first starting to read this story – both lived the same kind of life in their prior lives and I believed that gave them each a unique perspective on the other. Liam and Trisha needed friends like them because they each were muddling through their own struggles where having a kind friend to lean on would go the extra mile towards finding resolution to what troubled them. Now more than ever I can’t wait to settle into the story of what drew Jace and Vivian together – as there are pieces of their romance peppered inside Her Surprise Cowboy but one day I’ll appreciate reading start to finish!
There is a certain layer of joy in reading a story about second chance romance, new beginnings and the redemption quality of forgiveness. Not just the kind of forgiveness others can give to you themselves but the kind of forgiveness that comes from within the person. A lot of the story is hinged on whether or not Liam and Trisha can find solace from their past and find a way to give themselves the leverage of understanding who they were in the past is not an indication of whom they could become in the future. That’s the rub about the human condition in us all – in not allowing ourselves the wallowing periods of never seeing past mistakes or wrong turns on our path and to continue to seek out the future with an optimistic impression of what we can achieve. By following the footsteps of Liam and Trisha you’re set to find out how forgiveness of one self can lead to a greater freedom than either Liam or Trisha could have envisioned for each other.
McEwen has conceived of a realistic Contemporary Western Romance series wherein each of her characters are struggling through and/or are transitioning through a difficult period of their lives. The realism is brilliantly layered as despite their obstacles and the hurdles they have to overcome there is a defining thread of individual courage and moxie uniting them. McEwen writes soul lifting Contemporary Romance which gives you what you want out of a modern Western Rom whilst grounding you in realistic lives which you can identify with due to how her characters are self-transitioning through the challenges which arise in all of our lives. The circumstances might differ between us and them but its their resolve to fight through to tomorrow which connects us.
-quoted from my book review of Her Surprise Cowboy
Her passion for her job...
could cost him everything...
Former rodeo champion Jace Hendricks has six weeks to turn his run-down ranch around or he could lose custody of his nieces and nephews. But biologist Vivian Reed has to survey his land first - and she won't be rushed. Vivian's optimism and wonder start to win over the kids... and even Jace. But with all that's at stake, can he risk getting any more involved with Vivian?
Places to find the book:
Published by Harlequin Heartwarming
on 3rd September, 2019
The Heroes of Shelter Creek series:
Reunited with the Cowboy (book one) – Caleb & Maya’s story (see also Review)
After the Rodeo (book two) – Jace & Vivian’s story
Her Surprise Cowboy (book three) – Liam & Trisha’s story (see also Review)
Rescuing the Rancher – Aidan & Jade’s story (book four)
Second Chance Cowboy – (book five) – featuring ?? → forthcoming April, 2021!
I’ll admit – I was a bit worried this was ending as a quartet until I spied the release for 2021 via FantasticFiction which is my main resource for sourcing advance notice about series I am reading when new installments of those series will be revealled in forthcoming months.
Published by: Harlequin Heartwarming (@HarlequinBooks) | imprint of Harlequin Books
Formats Available: Paperback* and Ebook
*Harlequin has the luxury of offering Regular, Large & Larger Print editions which I personally can attest are lovely to be reading! Especially after a migraine or when my eyes are fatigued.
Converse via: #CowboyRomance, #WesternRomance & #ContemporaryRomance
as well as #HarlequinHeartwarming with #HeroesOfShelterCreek
This story received my award for Best Western Contemporary Romance:
subniche Cowboy & Ranchers Romance series