By Iris Morland
The Blurb: Abby Davison only wants to focus on her career as a nurse, as she has no time for dating after a bad breakup over a year ago. When her mother presses her about settling down, Abby tells her a little white lie: she’s dating Mark Thornton, the handsome and gruff rancher who both frustrates and makes her heart flutter every time they meet.
When Mark overhears Abby's lie, he decides to cut her a deal: to keep his silence regarding their make-believe relationship, she'll come to live with him on his ranch until his broken arm heals.
Despite her wounded pride and initial trepidation, Abby can’t help but begin to fall for the guarded Thornton brother as the days pass on his ranch.
The black sheep of the family, Mark makes no secret that he prefers horses over people. His brusque exterior, though, only conceals hidden depths and a wounded heart that Abby understands all too clearly.
As feelings start to bloom between them, neither is sure what is real and what’s make-believe. Yet the sizzling attraction between them is anything but fake, and with every kiss and every touch, they fall harder for each other.
But as their pasts begin to creep toward them, unearthing secrets both would rather keep buried, Abby and Mark must learn to trust each other—or risk losing the love both never knew they needed.
I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
This was my first gander at "The Thornton's" series so I wasn't sure what to expect. One happy surprise was that I was able to jump right in without any past information about characters or story lines.
This is a typical "small-town" enemies to lovers (Beauty and the Beast) type story. Our hero, Mark, has been cold and rude to our heroine, Abby, in the past. He is gruff, quiet, and comes off as aloof most of the time.
Abby has her issues as well. She sees herself as plain and in some ways, damaged. She hasn't had the best experiences with men in the past and is almost positive that she's on the path to being a spinster
But due to a little white lie, they're stuck with each other and an unlikely romance begins.
Of course, both are set on keeping it casual in the beginning. Both Abby and Mark have had painful relationships in the past. But Mark really seems to be the one who is letting it control his future. Abby is open to exploring something more but Mark's resistance brings back the self-doubt she has had because of an awful ex.
And speaking of ex's...fate brings them both back. These past relationships and the scars they caused are brought to the forefront just as Abby and Mark are getting to know each other. Good or bad, these intrusions force Abby and Mark to confront their relationship demons and determine if they are really ready to move on.
Overall this is a well-written story. I was emotionally invested in the characters and physically felt the pain, fear, and passion they experienced. I wasn't expecting as much action and intense issues, so that was a pleasant surprise that kept me glued to the pages.
One issue I did have was with the circumstance that brings them to living with each other. It seemed a little shaky and thin and was hard for me to understand what Abby was really doing at Mark's house. She's supposed to be "helping" with housework but we're never shown that. This was the jumping off point for the entire story, so I was a little disappointed that it wasn't dealt with at a deeper level.
Other than that, it was an enjoyable read with a satisfying ending. If you're looking for a sweet and sexy small-town romance, I would happily recommend it.
What did you think?