Wednesday, December 14, 2016

High Country Baby - Joanna Sims (HSE #2481 - June 2016)

Read December 10, 2016

Series: Brands of Montana (Book 6)

All Taylor Brand wanted was a baby of her own

But at nearly forty and recently divorced, embarking on a "solo" trek on the Continental Divide Trail, her time was tight and her options slim. Maybe the curt cowboy who'd been charged with watching out for her was her best shot. After all, Clint McAllister was shadowing her on a high-country horseback trip for the money. Would he be up for being hired for something else?

Classy ladies like Taylor didn't normally give a rough rodeo-rider like him a second glance…much less ask him to father a baby. And while Clint didn't need an excuse to take Taylor to bed, he did wonder if this plan was perhaps the wisest. Who knew what would happen once he got to taste the forbidden?

Good book. Taylor is nearly forty and recently divorced. Desperate for a change in her life, she has challenged herself to spend a month on the Continental Divide Trail. Her overprotective uncle won't agree to her going alone and has assigned cowboy Clint to be her trailguide. She's not happy about it, but she doesn't have a choice. Clint isn't any happier than she is, especially when he finds out how long she plans to be out. But he's been off the rodeo circuit for awhile due to injury and he needs the money, so he'll just have to suck it up and do it.

I really enjoyed the development of their relationship. From unwilling companions to friends to lovers, it was a voyage of discovery for both of them. When they first met, Clint thought Taylor was a clueless city woman and she thought he was a slightly scary drunk. But after a couple days of practically ignoring each other, they decided to make the best of things and work together. It wasn't long before Clint saw that Taylor had put a lot more thought into this trek than he'd realized and he grew to respect her determination. Taylor began to see that there was much more to the rough cowboy that she had thought. I loved seeing them get to know each other, with a background of their love of nature. There were times when I felt like I was right there with them.

Partway through the trip, Taylor put a business proposal in front of Clint. She will pay his debts, allowing him to get back to rodeoing, if he will get her pregnant. Both will get what they want with no obligations on either side. Right from the start the connection between them is deeper than either expected, even after they got back to the ranch. When their plan is quickly successful, neither is quite ready to let go. As Clint returned to the road and Taylor's pregnancy progressed, they stayed in touch, growing ever closer.

I loved how Clint returned to support her when problems with the pregnancy arose. His care for her was more important to him that his rodeo career. What was really nice was that their realization of their feelings was a result of how close they'd gotten, not the result of some argument or disaster. I also adored how Clint fell under the spell of baby Penny.

I really liked both Clint and Taylor. Both had issues at the beginning that they had to overcome. Thanks to her divorce and problems that came up during her marriage, her self-confidence was pretty low. Her trip on the Trail, and then her pregnancy and subsequent relationship with Clint went a long way toward fixing that. She especially had poor body image, and Clint had a bit of a battle to show her that she was exactly what he wanted. For his part, Clint knows that he drinks too much and smokes too much. He also feels that without even a high school diploma Taylor is way too good for him. What she quickly came to see was that he was actually very smart, being a man who reads and listens. I loved how he set out to make changes in his lifestyle to better fit the life he wants. I'm looking forward to seeing more of them in future books.

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