Dirty Little Secret
by Jennifer Ryan
Release Date: December 18, 2018
Book #1 in the Wild Rose Ranch series
Number of Pages: 384
Contemporary Romance/Western M/F
CW: physical abuse, attempted sexual abuse, neglect
Read 5/26/21 to 5/28/21
Noah Cordero is a modern-day cowboy who loves three things: ranching, his younger sister, and his step-father. John Cordero groomed Noah to take over the Montana spread where he learned to ride and work the land. But when John unexpectedly dies, he leaves half the ranch to a woman Noah doesn’t even know.
Roxy shares Noah’s last name, but not his blood. Estranged from her father, haunted by regrets, and eager to escape her notorious mother’s past, she is forced to fulfill her father’s last wishes. Inheriting means sharing a home with infuriating, challenging, and oh-so-tempting Noah. But John didn’t just make her owner of his ranch and guardian to her sister, his hidden sideline is her worst nightmare—she’s the new owner of the notorious Nevada brothel called Wild Rose Ranch where she grew up.
As their strictly business relationship starts to turn to true love, Roxy begins to wonder, what will happen when Noah discovers her dirty little secret?
Last year I won a copy of this author’s Waiting on a Cowboy, which was the first book in her series McGrath. At that time I realized the series was spun off from another series and was determined to go back and read this series since I really enjoyed that spin off so far. (Whew! That was quite the sentence!) Boy, it took forever to get this one from my eLibrary. Almost 6 months! Must be a popular read.
Talk about a woman who pulled herself up by her bootstraps and made things work. Of course, a lot that happened for Roxy in her early life wouldn’t have happened without her rich dad behind the scenes nudging her fate in the right direction. That doesn’t take away the fact that he basically abandoned her, never acknowledged her publicly, and was blind to the terrible things happening in her life before he started taking better care of her from afar. Roxy had to grow up way to fast and even became the de facto house mom of a group of similarly aged young girls when she was still a child herself.
Noah is a great big brother and was a great son to his adopted father, but he’s also had to deal with some abandonment issues and always feeling like he didn’t quite fully belong. This means that he can be a bit overprotective of his little sister and the land he grew up on. He put his heart and soul into making his father’s ranch prosperous, he is not keen on a stranger coming in and changing things. This means that Noah is often a bit of a jerk at the beginning of this story when it comes to Roxy. I get it, but I don’t like it.
Luckily, Roxy and Noah don’t take long to learn to understand each other. Their mutual need to see Annabelle happy, healthy, safe, and out of her terrible mother’s clutches help to cement their bond. I love how protective Noah is and how ready to stand up for herself Roxy is, and that it doesn’t cause problems.
There are a lot of wonderful dynamics in this story. Noah’s relationship with his little sister, Annabelle. Roxy’s relationship with Annabelle, her new charge. Noah and Roxy, of course. Then you have all of the others on the ranch as well as Noah’s best friend and Roxy’s pseudo sisters. This story beautifully sets up what promises to be an interesting series.