THE MAVERICK MEETS HER MATCH
RUST CREEK RAMBLINGS
As summer arrives in Rust Creek Falls, the town is bursting with babies…and the Gazette is bursting with news. Did you hear there's a new billionaire in town? President and CEO of Drake Distilleries and Drake Hospitality, Carson Drake is no one's baby daddy…at least, not yet. But the handsome, delicious Los Angeleno has his eye on our own Tessa Strickland, and things are about to get very interesting…
Sweet, serious Tessa has had firsthand experience with heartbreak and is determined to avoid a second go-round. But after one unexpected night in Carson's sheltering arms, she begins to waver. Dear readers, that's only the beginning of the surprises. Saddle up and find out what happens when two commitment-phobes discover that love is life's richest reward!
Good book. Carson has come to Rust Creek Falls to see if he can get the recipe for Homer Gilmore's moonshine. The same moonshine that is responsible for the current baby bonanza (see series Montana Mavericks: What Happened at the Wedding). Carson is watching the Memorial Day parade and spots a woman dressed as a stork and holding a baby on one of the floats. He can't take his eyes off her and is desperate to meet her. Tessa is the woman in the costume (she got tapped because the costume fit her) and spots Carson at the same time. Unlike Carson, her instinct is to get as far away from him as she can. Something tells her that he could mean real trouble for her.
Tessa is a local girl who moved away to pursue her dreams as a graphic artist. Just when she had landed her dream job, everything got derailed when she met a man. Tessa was so into him that she neglected her job, screwing up an account that her boss had trusted her with. Oh, and that man? He was her boss's ex, which didn't help her cause any. So Tessa ended up fired and threatened with being blackballed in the industry. She went home to Montana to try to get her life back together. She's freelancing her art, and determined to keep men off her radar for a long time to come.
Tessa's attempt at avoidance doesn't work, and she is introduced to him later that day. She is just as attracted to him as she feared, and can't say no when he wants to hang with her for the rest of the day and evening. I loved seeing how quickly they connected, finding several things that they have in common - including the intention to not have children. When Homer shows up and gives Carson a jar of his moonshine and promises that they'll talk later, Carson and Tessa share a few sips from the jar. I loved their comments on its properties, which give away that there is something pretty freaky about the drink. And like in the previous series, Carson and Tessa wake up in bed the next morning with no idea how they got there, or memory of what they did (though the evidence is pretty clear). Tessa completely freaks out at how fast things moved and pushes away from Carson as hard as she can. Carson on the other hand, wants to spend as much time with her as he can.
I loved the development of their relationship. Carson is determined to pursue what he sees as the potential for the future. He goes to great lengths to get closer to her. I loved his conversation with his friend Ryan, as he looks for advice on how to do it. It was great to see him settle on moving into the boarding house where Tessa is living also. Tessa is still freaked out, but finally agrees to spend time with him. They discover that not only is there attraction, they actually like each other. Carson tries to convince Tessa to come to California with him, even going so far as to line up a job interview for her. But thanks to that past relationship, Tessa has some big trust issues. She doesn't trust her own judgment, since she fell hard and fast the last time also. And she doesn't trust that something that has happened so fast will last.
Then Tessa gets some news that turns both their lives upside down. Carson's pursuit of her becomes even more determined, and Tessa digs in her heels about not being rushed. I loved Carson's realization that pushing harder isn't going to help, and how he backs off a little. However, he hasn't given up, and I enjoyed seeing all the things he did to show her that he believed in them. It's starting to work, but Tessa just can't get past that last obstacle. Then a picnic by the falls provides an exciting twist that changes everything. I loved the follow on scene.
The epilogue was great. I wasn't too surprised by the second result that came of their moonshine experience. Both of them had made comments during the latter part of the book that made me think it would be perfect if they both were right, and it was. I also liked how they worked out the balance between their professional needs and personal wants.