Summer at Mustang Ridge
By Dorine Linnen
May 15, 2013 - 8:00:00 AM

Shelby takes a leave of absence from her real job in advertising in Boston to spend her summer at a dude ranch in Wyoming as a sous chef.  Shelby and her daughter need a change after the traditional therapies for Lizzie's Selective Mutism haven't succeeded.  Maybe a change of scenery will be good for both of them if Shelby can relax enough in the new environment to give up her "mama bear" urges in order to benefit her child.

As the trail boss at Mustang Ridge ranch, Foster is in charge of not just the animals, but making sure the guests have a good time while being safe.  He's not much of a people person and stays clear of them as much as possible, until he meets Shelby and her daughter.  Somehow the two of them have wormed their way into his heart.  Can he keep his promises to himself without hurting Shelby and Lizzie along the way?

SUMMER AT MUSTANG RIDGE is a sweet romance with a more closed door approach to the sensuality between two people falling in love.  There's plenty of heat implied between this couple but the results are assumed rather than explicitly detailed.  Although I normally read more sensual books, the less explicit approach seemed to suit this story well.  The romance between this couple is slowly nurtured, both of them described as private individuals regarding their personal lives and I think a more sensual approach would have seemed out of place.

There aren't any clues to be solved, or an action-filled subplot—this book focuses on the people and the developing relationships, sometimes skimming past details I would have liked to know, but that was a minor hiccup.  Although a sweet romance, I didn't find it unrealistically sappy—something that would bother me.  This book was believable with enough true-to-life realism while retaining an innocence.  I found this novel to sometimes be more sophisticated in its characterization than I expected, which added to my enjoyment.  In other words, it's a sweet story that strays towards woman's fiction in some ways while still holding true to romance readers' expectations.

Besides Shelby and Foster, Lizzie often stole the show and I couldn't help but root for her to become who she was meant to be.  Lizzie's part in the story was very poignant, adding to the heartrending moments in the way that only children can do.

SUMMER AT MUSTANG RIDGE is an enjoyable book, providing interesting characters and a sweet love story with just enough unexpected special touches to keep the reader turning the pages.  I hadn't realized how much I had begun to care for the characters and the outcome of their happiness until the unexpected black moment occurred and made me doubt that they would find what they deserved.  It's a tear-worthy moment but have no fear, this book will make you smile in the end.  For those of you who prefer a mostly upbeat novel, then you'll really enjoy this one because even though it has some heartfelt drama, it accentuates the positive.

SUMMER AT MUSTANG RIDGE is exactly what sweet romance lovers crave, creating anticipation for what promises to be an enjoyable western contemporary series.  A tender love story told in a unique voice, sure to please any romance lover.

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