Rough Creek by Kaki Warner
Expected publication: July 7, 2020 – Berkley
E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley
After serving eighteen months in prison for a crime he didn’t commit, Dalton Cardwell is looking for a fresh start. What better place than Whitcomb Four Star Ranch? He doesn’t regret the decisions of his past–he’d choose the same roads again. But now all Dalton wants is to keep his head down and focus on the horses–and on Raney Whitcomb.
Raney is outraged when she learns her mother hired an ex-con. Raney has worked hard for the ranch, sacrificing her personal life for the dream of building on her family’s legacy. But as Dalton breaks down every misconception and even wins the good opinion of her sisters, Raney is forced to rethink her stance–and finally free herself to explore the heart-pounding tension that simmers between them. (publisher)
My take: I’m always happy to get in at the start of a series so I didn’t hesitate to read Rough Creek – book one in Kaki Warner’s Brides of Rough Creek series. It’s a contemporary series about a Texas family who own a ranch that specializes in breeding horses. 60 year-old matriarch Coralee Whitcomb decides its time to travel and see the world. Daughter Raney is in charge of running the ranch but before Coralee leaves for a cruise she hires a new horse trainer, Dalton Cardwell. Dalton is fresh out of prison after serving eighteen months for a crime he didn’t commit but chose not to challenge when charged. Raney is appalled at her mom’s decision to hire him but decides to give him a chance. Both Raney and Dalton notice an attraction almost from the start so it was amusing to watch that situation play out as Raney tried to deny it. Dalton was easy to cheer on – such an honorable man. And Raney was just as honorable if a bit more stubborn. I enjoyed their story and the setting. There’s a lot of horse competition detail so readers who love horses will find that aspect interesting. I’ll be on the watch for book two!