Title: Betting on Texas
Author: Amanda Renee
May Contain Spoilers
Once again, I am drawn to a cowboy book. Betting on Texas by Amanda Renee even has horses. Bonus! Surly Jesse is a horse trainer, and they are actually featured predominately in the story. Yeah! Unfortunately, Jesse knowingly puts Miranda in some hazardous situations, which did make me think less of him. A horse trainer of all people should know better to put a horse and a human at risk like that.
Miranda Archer is embarking on a new life. Having won the state lottery, she purchases a ranch in Texas, loads up her meager belongings in her brand new pickup truck, and heads for greener pastures. What she finds isn’t exactly the solitary haven she’s expecting. Instead, she discovers that she also owns several horses, a small herd of cattle, and some chickens in addition to the farm house and acreage. Oh, yeah, and there’s that angry, angry cowboy, Jesse Langtry, in residence, too. Jesse has sacrificed the better part of the last 15 years working on the ranch, training sought after cutting horses and managing the property for the former owners. They had a hand shake agreement that Jesse would buy the ranch when they were ready to retire. Unfortunately, the older couple is tragically killed in an accident, and the ranch is placed on the auction block by. Jesse is outbid by Miranda, and he is pissed! How could this rich, city-slicker from DC just stroll into town and take away his dream?
I really wanted to enjoy this book more than I did, but the story didn’t gel for me. The adversarial relationship between Jesse and Miranda turned me off. Jesse completely and unfairly misjudges Miranda, which makes him hard to like. They are constantly bickering about the ranch, which is legally Miranda’s, and Jesse blames her for buying it from under him. He is so bitter that I just couldn’t buy into their relationship. He puts her at risk several times with the horses, and I couldn’t get over that. Horses are large animals, and when handled by inexperienced people, they can be dangerous. Heck, they can be dangerous when you know what you’re doing! To leave her to load a horse onto a trailer after getting mad at her; I just can’t imagine a professional horseman doing something risky like that. After getting dumped off of my mare the same day I read a majority of the book, for no other reason than she was feeling frisky, I know how quickly things can go wrong with horses. This probably won’t be a major sticking point for most, but it was for me.
I did like Miranda. She put up with Jesse’s sullen behavior and tried not to let it bother her. She met his dismissive treatment of her head on. She didn’t let him alter her plans to have the home she had always dreamed of. When life bit her in the behind, she quickly made adjustments to ensure that the animals and the people who were now depending on her were taken care of. Her initial poor reception in town was entirely due to Jesse spreading false rumors about her and her plans for the ranch, and she acted forcefully to try to counteract the gossip he had spread about her. Even though he did this before he met her, it’s hard to forgive a guy who would try to sabotage a complete stranger like that.
To settle things between them, Miranda and Jesse make a bet, and the winner ends up with the ranch. Because of Jesse’s determination to win the bet and get his dreams back on track, it was hard to buy into his sincerity when his feelings for Miranda started to change. I wasn’t sure if he really did like her, or if gaining control of the ranch was playing into his change of heart. In fact, it wasn’t until the last two chapters that I even started to like him.
Betting on Texas was a mixed bag for me, and I blame the confrontational relationship established early in the story for my tepid respond to Jesse. It was hard to look beyond Jesse’s desire to own the ranch, and his less than chivalrous behavior rankled at times. Even though Betting on Texas didn’t work for me, I am looking forward to getting to know Jesse’s brothers better in Home To The Cowboy, the next book in the series.
Review copy provided by publisher