May Contain Spoilers
Jeannie Watt is one of my favorite short romance authors. I love her settings, her characters always connect with me, and her writing style is engaging. I was very excited to see she had an entry in the American Extreme Bull Riders series, because she gets cowboys, and she gets the women who love said cowboys. I breezed right through Austin, and it didn’t disappoint.
Kristen is having a run of bad luck, mostly self-inflicted. The girl with a plan, the girl most likely to succeed, is struggling. After being laid off from her dream job crunching numbers in Reno, she has been unemployed for weeks. The only position offered to her is as a server at a bar. Despising the suggestive costume she’s forced to wear, she puts on her best face and knuckles down to do the best she can in a job she doesn’t like. When Austin Harding, boy most likely to amount to nothing, ends up in her bar, she is aghast. He can’t recognize her, and he can’t tell her twin sister where she’s working!
Austin thinks that karma might be the sweetest thing ever when he sees the girl who gave him a very public set down in high school slinging drinks in a bar. Kristen always had a plan, and when he sees where she’s working, he thinks that her plan hasn’t served her very well. He, on the other hand, was always slacking off in school, because his career aspirations involved sticking a bull for eight seconds, and now he’s one of the best bull riders in the country.
When Kristen finds herself out of a job again, with no money to get home to Marietta, she has to bum a ride off Austin. And so begins their unlikely reunion, as well as their opposites attract romance.
I could so relate to Kristen. She is shy and so socially awkward that people immediately form a not so positive impression of her. Thinking that she’s stuck up and aloof, she has few friends. It’s little wonder she lost first a job that required team work with her co-workers, and then a job that necessitated a friendly, outgoing personality for her customers. So. Not. Kristen. As the hours go by in the close confines of Austin’s truck, she is forced to confront her shortcomings. She is not a risk taker, and the thought of living her life like Austin has, terrifies her. Then she realizes how little she has to show for her obsessive planning, and maybe it’s time for a little spontaneous behavior.
Austin is a likeable hero. He doesn’t want to help Kristen. She made him question himself after berating him by her locker in high school, and even if he deserved a piece of her mind, he wasn’t ready to face that he might not be as great a guy as he thought. Now he’s just concentrating on staying healthy enough to make it to the AEBR finals. Kristen is a headache he doesn’t need. But as they spend time together, he starts to appreciate her wit and enjoy her company. But whatever they have can’t last, because he is always just a few seconds away from being stomped on by a bull.
I really enjoyed this one. The relationship felt natural, developing over time. Both Austin and Kristen have to face personal shortcomings, and accept that they have flaws. There is compromise. There is awareness of others’ feelings. The HEA is completely believable. Jeannie Watt delivers a satisfying read again!
Grade: 4.25 stars
Review copy provided by publisher
About the book:
Business whiz Kristen Alexander achieves—that’s what she does. She’s set goals, made the right moves, enjoyed the rewards of hard work and careful planning… That is, until she’s abruptly fired from her banking job in Reno, Nevada. Now she’s scrambling to make ends meet, job-hunting by day and waitressing in the casino by night. The last thing she expects is to run into a hometown guy—one who could easily blow the lies she’s been telling her friends and family about how well she’s doing.
Bull rider Austin Harding is having an amazing season touring with the American Extreme Bull Riders Tour, and he’s enjoying every second of his success—working hard and playing hard as he fights to win the money at the end of the tour. But his focus on the big prize wavers when he runs into hometown girl Kristen Alexander during a Reno tour party. Why is the woman who once told him that he would never amount to anything slinging drinks in a casino? After the way she judged him years ago, he feels entitled to some answers… But the answer he gets is not the answer he expects.
Will Austin be able to set aside his resentment over their shared history to give their attraction a chance to ignite?