A Good Old-Fashioned Cowboy
by Maisey Yates, Caitlin Crews, Jackie Ashenden, Nicole Helm
Release Date: January 21, 2021
Book #2 in the Jasper Creek series
Number of Pages: 473
Ages 14 and up
Four best friends return home to find more than they ever dared dream of in this delightful quartet from bestselling authors Maisey Yates, Caitlin Crews, Jackie Ashenden and Nicole Helm.
When they were girls, best friends Hope, Charity, Pru and Kit made a pact that if, at thirty, they weren’t happy with their lives, they would return home to Jasper Creek, Oregon. And when Hope’s wedding implodes, they decide it’s time.
While Hope is uncertain she’ll find her way back to the man she left behind, good girl Charity decides to have some fun with a bad boy, Pru develops feelings for the one man she shouldn’t touch and Kit finds herself kissing the last man she ever expected to.
All they wanted was to make their small-town childhood dreams a reality. But along the way, these best friends also have to contend with their very own good old-fashioned cowboys!
We’re back in Jasper Creek and, to my delight, back at Grandma June’s house. Seems Grandma June’s granddaughters have decided to rent out the home. In this book, a group of four childhood friends rent the house in order to reassess and straighten out their lives. All of the women grew up in Jasper Creek but have since scattered to different parts of the United States. They’ve kept in contact during their time apart, but now it’s time to remember their dreams and make them come true. A fun twist, they decide to use Grandma June’s old magazines from the 40s and 50s to jumpstart their dating lives. They fill a jar with the dating advice from these magazines and must pull a slip each time they break their new house rules. Of course, the house will work its magic and be sure each lady ends up with her HEA.
On top of it all, as young girls they dreamed of opening their own shops in town and now they have the opportunity to do so. The catch being that they must open by a certain date to maintain the low rent being offered as an incentive to revitalize downtown. If they are not successful in meeting their deadline, they will be locked into sky high rent, which none of them can afford.
How to Find Him by Maisey Yates
The first story told is Hope’s tale. After a nine-year relationship and being hours from walking down the aisle, she is back in Jasper Creek single and frustrated. It’s not even that she liked her fiancé overly much, but it was what was expected of her from her uppity parents which made her believe it was what she wanted. But really, she has always just wanted her old high school boyfriend, Brooks.
Hope is opening a candy shop in town. She loves all things sweet and has spent years avoiding sugar due to her ex-fiancé and his family. Now she’s eating all the candy, putting some of her natural weight back on, and enjoying the journey. And then she, quite literally, falls head over heels back into Brooks. Who, get this, has a syrup farm. It’s instantly obvious these two still have many unresolved feelings, but they’ll have to get out of their own way to try to work things out.
There are some wonderfully butterfly-inducing scenes that come about due to the slips of “advice” Hope has to pull during the course of her story. I really loved the parts of their story when they let their guards down and really talked and shared with each other. Just like Hope’s store, the story of Hope and Brooks is very sweet. ~ 3.5 stars
How to Win Him by Caitlin Crews
Kit has been living in New York and working at a prestigious publishing house since graduating from Princeton. Her father always knew she was meant for great things! And Kit always loved to make her dad happy and proud. Although there is satisfaction in her dad’s approval, there’s not much joy. Kit likes her job and her life enough and while she’s not unhappy, she’s also not happy. Hope’s canceled wedding is the perfect excuse to leave it all behind and move back home to Jasper Creek to open a genre-specific romance book shop. Of course, she also avoids her dad for months not wanting to face his disappointment.
Browning West always had all the girls swooning in school. He’s a couple years older than Kit and were on totally different social rungs so never interacted in high school, but he volunteered to help his sister-in-law’s tenant (Grandma June’s Keira) build some book shelves and other odds and ends. Browning may not immediately be able to place Kit, but she knows exactly who he is…the subject of many schoolgirl fantasies back in the day. They seem like total opposites on paper, but these opposites most definitely attract.
This story was a lot of fun on top of having many warm-fuzzy moments. Kit has to do some ridiculous things due to the slips of dating advice and each and every time Browning just rolls with it and never asks why. He is such a wonderful love interest. He’s thoughtful and fun and pushes Kit outside her comfort zone. She pushes back, having him read romance book after romance book so he can understand what she’s trying to build with her new store. I just adore these two. And their groveling scene is the best. Chef’s kiss! ~ 5 stars
How to Hold Him by Jackie Ashenden
Oh, how I love Charity and Garrett together. Both very misunderstood, even by those closest to them. Both seeing the true person behind the act. Plus, they had crushed on each other in high school without knowing the feelings were mutual. Well, Garrett suspected but didn’t feel he was a good person for Charity to fall for.
While I felt this story had tons of chemistry and heart, I was missing the dating advice slips. Not that Charity didn’t have to pull a slip from time to time, it just didn’t seem like it was a big part of her story. Although, there was one particular slip that had her confronting Garrett the first day they see each other and it’s such a fun, intense, and heated scene. Other than that, I felt the slips were a bit inconsequential to Charity. And, although the house worked its magic here and there, it was much more subtle than in the other stories so far. I still thoroughly enjoyed their journey and really loved seeing them find their HEA. ~ 4 stars
How to Love Him by Nicole Helm
Nicole Helm is really hitting it out of the ballpark with her stories in this series. In the few pages she has to work with she gave me tons of warm-fuzzies and touches a bit on mental health in a very accessible way. And seriously, there are few tropes better than a brother’s best friend romance.
I really enjoyed the use of the advice slips in this story. I already mentioned that I missed them in the previous story so I was happy to have the slips and the magical house show up a bit more again. No matter how strongly Pru tries to fight her emotions, the house and slips (and her girlfriends) just won’t allow her to bury her head in the sand.
This story is a lot about Pru’s growth, especially emotionally. But I felt Grant grew even more. It seemed Grant has been having a very rough few years and was finally able to really listen to what his brothers and friends were telling him. Somehow hearing it from Pru, who was more of an outside observer, helped him to hear the truth in what was being said. Once he was able to step back from what he perceived as his (and only his) responsibilities, Grant found that it was possible for him to find happiness.
That was a harder lesson for Pru. While her family is loving and caring, they don’t really discuss feelings. Meaning, Pru never spoke up when they hurt her in the past. She also learned to not hope for things. Once that feeling of hope started to blossom, she shut it down. Not a healthy way to live, to be sure.
All the feels were had with this story. ~ 5 stars
Summary: I love reading about friends who have stood the test of time. These women have had each other’s backs for a long time and know when to sit back and let things play out, and when to push things into an uncomfortable zone. I’m really happy I finally picked this series up. It’s a lot of fun and gives me four HEAs in one each time.
Overall = 4.375 stars (we’ll round that up to 4.5)