Ruth Logan Herne has written a contemporary romance featuring life on the Stafford prized cattle ranch where the wayward son who left the lush hills of eastern Washington state for the financial glitz of Manhattan returns to his childhood home knowing he'll face the friction of his father and brother but not expecting it to come from a beautiful and tough woman managing the house and his ailing father's care.
Colt Stafford sampled all the financial district in New York had to offer until the market turned on him along with a questionable investment that stunted his successful career. Going home to the Double S Ranch humbles him knowing he'll be forced to face his failure head on with his father and brother. When he walks in the door to a startling beauty holding a rifle pointed at his chest, he's forced to identify himself in his former home. Turns out Angelina Morales wasn't expecting him home early and since she'd never met him, she was establishing the Double S home didn't tolerate intruders. When he confirms his identity, his welcome goes from deadly to lukewarm.
Colt hits the ground running - or riding as it turns out - right in the middle of calving season on the lush ranch and just before a major storm rolls in. Rounding up pregnant cows and new calves to shelter them from the onset of the storm presses him, his brother, and their hired help who've been with the ranch for many years. Extra help shows up and Angelina keeps them all well fed.
Colt's father has suffered some severe health issues but is doing his best to recover. He's had a major change of heart in recent times and wants to make up for who he's been to his sons and the community over the past many years since the boys' mother died when they were very young. Colt's not buying it at first having acquired a hard heart himself during his time estranged from the ranch.
The attraction between Angelina and Colt is undeniable although they both fight it. (It is a romance novel after all.) With wrong suppositions about each other and their past experiences, not to mention some personal secrets, to thwart their progress toward each other, Colt grows weary of the fight and decides to plow through the difficulties between them. The addition of family, neighbors, his brother's daughters, another estranged brother eager to forgive and be a part of the new attitude permeating the ranch, there's much happening behind the scenes adding more confusion and chaos. When a fire breaks out on the outskirts of the small town, it takes fast action from the Stafford men to help contain the danger and Angelina is right in the thick of it.
I appreciated reading a novel about a fictional eastern Washington town and the way Ruth handled the sensitivity of ranchers who respect the animals they raise. Slipping in the faith factors through some of the characters, its influence in the overall story and mending relationships, she kept the need for forgiveness and starting over prominent throughout the novel. With likable co-protagonists, a reformed and appealing ailing father, and interesting peripheral characters, Back in the Saddle does its job of presenting a contemporary western romance. Enjoyed this one.
Father, please bless Ruth in all of her writing. Help her to do as you ask and may she honor you in all she does and writes. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.