Betting on a Good Luck Cowboy
Grade : C

How long is long enough to mourn the loss of a spouse? How long if your spouse was the perfect person for you? Your one and only? And what happens if you start to have romantic feelings for your spouse’s best friend?

These are some of the many questions plaguing Wyoming cattle rancher Tess Valdez whose Navy SEAL husband Jace died in Afghanistan on a mission two years before. While his three best friends—Silas, Thatch, and Tess’s brother Aiden—came back to help her get through her loss, Tess still has their two young daughters and Dry Creek Ranch to juggle.

Tess worries about her situation—a lot. Over and over. Worry, worry, worry. Is she doing right by her daughters? The ranch? Even after building a monument to her husband in the upper meadow by the lake, she worries if that’s enough.

Then at her brother Aiden’s engagement party, DeAnn, Jace’s bitter cousin, accosts Tess about letting go of Jace too soon. Tess is brought to tears by DeAnn’s ugly comments.

To get some peace, Tess escapes to the quieter patio outside where Silas also slips away. One comment leads to another, Tess realizes she has feelings for Silas, and they both leave for his room where they have sex. New worries are now added to the old ones. Will everyone find out? What will they say if they do? Both Tess and Silas dither.

As if all that weren’t enough, Tess finds an injured wild horse in her ranch’s upper meadow. A trained but not practicing veterinarian, Tess triages the horse and with Silas’ help, leads it back to her ranch. After hearing the gunshot which made her search for the horse, she is pretty sure she saw three men on a white ATV with a purple stripe. Although she is unfamiliar with the ATV, it’s not tourist season, so she thinks the culprits must be local.

Not one to take injustice passively, Tess calls a meeting for friends and neighbors to tell them about the shooting and to organize patrols of the area to make sure no other wild horses are attacked. That someone is shooting on her property and a stray bullet might hit her children makes Tess worry even more.

Even with the overabundance of worry and going over and over each nuance of every problem, the author does infuse the story with some relief. While wallowing in worry most of the time, Tess is ultimately a take-action woman. It might be a bit late for most readers, but Tess does end up telling her family and friends about Silas and their burgeoning love. After the horse is shot, Tess does rally the troops to find the culprits and is proactive in finding a permanent solution to the wild horses depleting the grasslands.

With a heavier hand at editing, Richardson’s story would be much better. As it is, readers may want to grab a red pen and do their own deleting.


Reviewed by Pat Henshaw

Grade: C

Sensuality: Warm

Review Date : July 9, 2023

Publication Date: 06/2023

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