Best Man Rancher (The Carsons of Lone Rock) – ARC review

Best Man Rancher
by Maisey Yates
Release Date: September 27, 2022
Publisher: HQN books
Book #2 in The Carsons of Lone Rock series
Number of Pages: 224
Source:  ARC from NetGalley and Harlequin
Contemporary Romance
Ages 15 and up
CW: death of a spouse
After all these years of wanting,
will just one night be enough?

Being his brother’s best man is a privilege for Kit Carson. The rancher likes his future sister-in-law…and he really likes her sister, Shelby Sohappy. Now that he and Shelby are thrown together for wedding preparations, Kit can finally make his move. Shelby is still grieving her husband, so his offer is just one night with no-strings—he knows her heart can’t handle more. Kit is certain he’s fine with that…until he isn’t. And now Shelby’s expecting. Can the best man prove he’s the man for Shelby?

While this is a very touching story that evoked a lot of deep feelings, it wasn’t all I was hoping for in Shelby’s story. Where I struggle is with trying to figure out if that has to do with my own ideas of how I wanted to see her story play out as opposed to how it actually played out.

Kit is absolutely the right person for Shelby. Their chemistry is on point. I love that they’ve had underlying feelings for each other for years but were never in the right place in life at the same time to make anything happen with that. In fact, Shelby and her deceased husband were very much in love from a pretty young age. She had a crush on Kit all those years ago, but she was too young for him and ended up meeting her first love. To me, there is no mistaking that Shelby loved her husband. From all that is told to us, they had a wonderful and fulfilling life together…as short as it was. Therein lies my problem.

Whenever I read a romance where one or both of the main characters lost their significant other, I appreciate knowing there was love and respect between the previous couple. It always bothers me when the new love interest is viewed as better unless that previous relationship was in some way bad, such as there being abuse or no love. I believe that every love is different, which doesn’t mean better or worse. Shelby struggled with falling in love with another man, so it bothered me and surprised me when Shelby thinks about her relationship with Kit as being “more” or “better”. Thankfully, it doesn’t happen a lot, but it still rubbed me the wrong way.

That being said, the journey that Kit and Shelby take together is lovely. For Shelby to allow herself to move on with her life and for Kit to trust in the realities of love and let it happen for himself, they both have many internal barriers to overcome. Even with the problems I had with this story, I cannot deny it touched me and I would still recommend the story.

3.5 stars

**I received an ARC of this book courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and given freely**

About Cheri

I'm the mom of two boys and wife to my high school sweetheart. Our oldest, Josh, is living at home while working and paying off student loans. Our youngest, Griffin recently left his active duty Army job and is now National Guard here at home. He moved back to Michigan with his wife Kirsten and our beautiful granddaughter Hazel. I work part time and try to fit as much reading into my life as possible.
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