Title: Lead Me Home
Author: Vicki Lewis Thompson
Publisher: Harlequin Blaze
May Contain Spoilers
Thanks to his skills with difficult horses, trainer Matthew Tredway has traveled all over the world. And his new gig? The Last Chance Ranch. But after a chance glance at the ranch’s hot little blond cook, Matthew’s libido is immediately set to sizzle!
Chef Aurelia Smith has been trying to tempt the ranch hands with mouth-watering concoctions, with less-than-stellar results. But when Matthew is sent in to intervene, his attraction to Aurelia boils over.
Before long, they’re cooking up a storm, in and out of the bedroom. But Aurelia knows that while she might have led her horseman to bed, she can’t make him stay….
Whenever I get into a reading slump, I find myself reaching for a Harlequin category romance. I don’t know why, but these things always seem to get me back on a reading track. Maybe because of the formula, and because I know that despite all adversity, the protagonists will find a way to get together. I’m not suggesting that they are all 5 star reads, but I find a great deal of comfort in the formula. I have only read a few titles under the Blaze imprint, and so far, they have been quick, satisfying reads, so I gravitated to one of these.
I picked Lead Me Home to load on my Kindle because of one thing: the hero is a horse trainer. I am always a sucker for a book with horses. I am also extremely critical of stories featuring horses, because there are certain ways we do things at the barn, and then there’s the way everyone else does things. Usually, it is in sync with how I expect horse care and horse training to be described. Sometimes it is not. With the exception of young Lester’s “natural” riding abilities, and the abbreviated time spent training Houdini, the unruly stallion, I didn’t have much to complain about with the horse scenes. I would like Lester to come and show me how to canter on a runaway horse, because I am having a heck of time cantering on one of my mares. Of course, Lester was helped out by a jerk throwing a rock, so maybe under different circumstances, he would have a problem, too.
Anyhoo, getting back to the book, Matthew is a huge guy, 6’5” and solidly built. He is a muscle machine. I am assuming that he’s training quarter horses, and my only other nitpick is that he is a big guy. Quarter horses aren’t huge horses(well, except for their rear ends). I am thinking that he looked pretty silly on Houdini, unless the stud was built like a brick sh!thouse, too. I know how ridiculous my trainer looks on one of my mares, and she isn’t a small horse. Oh! I am wandering off track again! Sorry! Let’s try again!
Matthew is a famous horse trainer, probably along the lines of Clinton Anderson. He is a published author, and everyone recognizes that he is a horse training expert. He jets all about the world, working his equine mojo. He also feels detached from people, and has no real committed relationships. Both of his parents have passed away; his mother when he was a young child, and his father just a few years ago. His father was so devastated by his mother’s death that he was an emotionally distant care-giver. Matthew found completion training horses, and his training gifts have made him wealthy.
Aurelia, on the other hand, works at a bank. She is very satisfied with her job, but she has taken an extended vacation to fill in for her aunt, who is off on her honeymoon. Aurelia is working at Last Chance Ranch as the cook, and she is having a blast tormenting the ranch-hands with her gourmet cooking. While she is a wonderful cook, the cowboys don’t like the weird things she is trying to feed them. I loved this – Aurelia is trying to expose them to new food, and they just want to run for cover. They are afraid of her food! They think it is gross and inedible. They sneak it out of the kitchen and feed it to the dogs. They can’t even pronounce the names of these new dishes; how can they possibly eat this stuff??
Poor Matthew is immediately asked by the cowboys to set Aurelia straight and to save them from her goofy food. She is just too nice for them to tell her how they really feel, so they are going to throw Matthew under the bus and make him to do. He wants to taste her food for himself, because during his travels, he has learned to love food. He isn’t afraid of new things! I felt an instant bond with Matthew – any guy who has an open mind about food is all right with me. Thankfully, I found a guy who enjoys food, too. He even eats the gross stuff that Aurelia’s cowboys balked at – livers and yucky stuff like that. Give me tender goat that has been simmered in a curry sauce and I’ll be your friend forever. The organ meats, though, that is another matter altogether.
Matthew and Aurelia hit it off right away. It’s lust at first sight, and Matthew has the added bonus of yummy home cooking. Their steamy affair is moving along full steam ahead, both of them acknowledging that this is just a short time, no strings attached romp. Until they both get in over their heads. Then Matthew makes a wonderful suggestion to Aurelia, as way to keep them together, but she rejects the idea, without even thinking about it. And that is what irritated me about Aurelia. She is so adventurous about about everything else, but when the guy who seems to be the love of her life suggests as plausible way for them to be together, she shuts down and shoots him down. Maybe he didn’t go about bringing up the topic in the right way, but, heck, he’s a horse trainer! What does he know about women! Just kidding.
Lead Me Home is a quick, entertaining read. It’s obvious that it’s part of a series, and I liked the characters enough that I will scrounge up more books in it. This isn’t a perfect read, but it was engaging, the protagonists weren’t jerks, and it got me out of my reading slump.
Review copy purchased from Amazon