By Leslie McAdam
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
When foul-mouthed, tattooed, vegan Marie Diaz-Austin accepted a summer internship on a ranch north of Santa Barbara to work with underprivileged and special needs kids, she was expecting hard work. She wasn’t expecting the gorgeous but conservative rancher, Will Thrash, who wants nothing to do with left-wing hippies like her.
While they both may be stubborn when it comes to climate change, they’re much less rigid about considering a summer fling. Although they hate each other’s politics, they can’t deny their immediate and growing attraction to each other. But when the stakes are raised and they’re forced to make a choice what will give? Their principles or themselves?
The preview blurb drew me in: how was an author going to successfully convince me that two people in their 30’s who are polar opposites politically can make romance work, especially since one is a tree-hugging vegan of all things who considers PETA to be a reputable source of information? Even though I never came to love Marie’s character, I did come to like her and even respect her a little bit (ok, more than a little bit) for being willing to adjust some of her devout principles by considering other angles. As for Will? Yep, sign me up and paint me red, white and blue; I’m always a sucker for a hot, able-bodied cowboy, and he was tender, kind and kinky to boot and I was smitten from the first ‘darlin’. In this case, opposites did attract and it worked. McAdam did an exceptional job of creating realistic characters with deep layers she continued to peel off as the story evolved. The storyline was well written, appropriately paced and focused on real, everyday situations, feelings and choices.
The author was able to effectively cash in on the sub-plot of labels and stereotypes that started out early in the story between Will and Marie when two campers initiated an exchange that resulted in Will using it as both a lesson for the others and an apology to Marie. There were also some other creative plot twists that fostered deeper meaning into the storyline, such as the two week abstinence. It not only helped prove that their attraction wasn’t only physical, but it also led them to get to know each other better as people and strengthened their true feelings. Fortunately (in my opinion), the political debates weren’t cloak and dagger. Will, with his few words but loud actions and open approach, was able to help Marie find a way to look beyond her assumptions about both politics and labels. Sure, Will was blunt and direct, but he offered a complex charismatic mixture of maturity, tenderness, heart and spirit that was hard to turn away from, and did I mention he knows how to do the romantic thing? (And he can dance. And talk dirty. And he lies down on a blanket to look up at the stars. And he has a dog. I’m swooning.)
This is a feisty story that embodies a romantic relationship: lust, accepting one another without demanding change, exploring minds and bodies, entertaining, frustrating, doing little things for the one another, real. And there were so many memorable lines in this one, from “I don’t know whether to spank you or f*ck you for this,” to “I want nothing more than to bury myself in you. Go out to dinner with me tonight. Want you in my bed after.” I can’t pick my favorite!
The “huh?” part?
I’m not sure Marie’s plan to get Will drunk on tequila to find out more about him worked out quite as well as it could have – but it also could have ended up a lot worse, too, since it’s amazing they were able to keep their two-week promise when they were both plastered. I’m also not sure about that strip club idea the two girls had on the double date. It seemed sort of “out there” to me, but….
I simply liked Will. He was a pretty real guy and, though he was a man of few words, when he spoke he used his words wisely. Will had a lot of layers and would be a good catch, period. I have to say I liked the two week abstinence rule – in real life it might not have been a lot of fun, but in the end, they became closer as a couple and it worked in their (relationship’s) favor. The author also did a really good job in the scene when Marie debated with herself about how she felt about Will; she came to her answer in a realistic and profoundly psychological way. Oh, and Will gave up chew cold-turkey. He’s Heaven in a cowboy hat and Wranglers.
It’s a well-written book and the concept is a bit different than a lot of books. There wasn’t a lot of angst, although Marie did spend a fair amount of time trying to convince herself that she and Will just couldn’t make it as a couple (“trying to figure out a way to start a fight”). I understand why she was trying to set it up that way – I may have done that a time or two in my life, too – but if you’ve got that honey hovering over you, you’d be a fool not to make a move. Really, it’s a good read – the story flows seamlessly and you can’t help but feel as if you’re experiencing the characters in real-time.
Original review posted on Amazon and Goodreads on May 11, 2016.