The Rancher Meets His Match
by Kate Pearce
Release Date: December 29, 2020
Book #4 in the Millers of Morgan Valley series
Number of pages: 352
Source: ARC from NetGalley
Contemporary Romance/Western M/F
Read 12/19/20 to 12/20/20
Kaiden Miller may be the family jokester, but he takes his work on their ranch very seriously. And as a sought-after master carpenter to boot, he’s busier than ever. Still, when he’s asked to renovate the neighboring ranch, he’s more than willing. The owner, Juan Garcia, is ailing, and Kaiden expects to find the property pretty run down. He doesn’t expect to find his old nemesis—Juan’s daughter,
Julia—overseeing his work . . .
Julia’s not sure why Kaiden never liked her. But if working with him makes life easier for her father, so be it. Yet to her surprise, not only is Kaiden great with her father, he’s great with her too. As the weeks pass, it becomes harder to ignore their simmering attraction. And when Julia’s boss turns up with a sweet deal, both she and Kaiden will have to decide where their loyalties—and their hearts—lie . . .
One of the notes I jotted down while reading this story was as follows, “ROFL, sometimes I forget how much this author cracks me up!” And that’s the truth. Yes, her stories touch my heart and make me swoon. But that little something extra is the laughs. (A note for when you are reading, this was in reference to the scene where the heroine is having a conversation with a man named Scott. So much fun!)
Kaiden was best friends with Julia’s brother Miguel back in the day. He had a falling out with Miguel back in high school (which is never fully explained here, but we are given the gist of what happened in bits and pieces) and Julia has looked at Kaiden as an enemy of sorts ever since. While Julia left town soon after high school to go to college and pursue her career in law, Kaiden is still living in Morgan Valley helping on his family ranch and doing carpentry work. He’s the happy-go-lucky guy who never takes himself or anything else too seriously. She’s the strait-laced, career-oriented professional who has everything planned out well in advance. Or course, when they are thrust back into each other’s orbit there are sparks.
Once again, in this series, I’m reminded how much I cannot stand Kaiden’s parents. Each book seems to give the reader more insight into his dad’s justifications of his actions, but I still cannot find him redeemable. Or his mom, who up and left when the kids were still all teens and younger. In that, Julia has something in common with Kaiden. Her mom also left, but in a much more above-board way. I still don’t understand her choices, but at least she was honest and kept contact with her kids. I guess my point in this paragraph is to say, it’s no wonder these two aren’t more screwed up than they are. They’re not the best at communication, but it could have been so much worse.
Somehow, I never disliked Julia. It would have been easy to do if her character had been written by a lesser author. But, even with her blinders on about certain things, she still always seemed like someone I could be friends with. And, as the story progressed and she opened her eyes to some realities, she became a much more sympathetic character. In fact, there came a point where the reader sees that, in some areas, Julia is actually the underdog. As much as I like Juan 99% of the time, his bullheaded approach to his son and daughter the other 1% drove me nuts. Julia is a saint when it comes to keeping her mouth shut with her dad.
The dynamics of the Miller family are constantly becoming clearer, all while shifting to suit the new additions and changing times. I enjoy watching them stand up to their father, one by one. And, I think here more than in some of the other stories, stand up to each other. I know their sister had a rough road to travel with all those older brothers. But it seems to me that Kaiden was put in a box long ago and nobody ever looked in that box to see if it was the right fit for him. They took for granted that he would take the brunt of things to keep the peace because it was easier for them to let him do the heave lifting. They’re not bad people, but humans who naturally see their own world with different eyes than the person right next to them. I love watching this family’s emotional growth.
** I received an ARC of this book courtesy of the Net Galley and the publisher. All opinions expressed in my review are my own and given freely. **