|You know it’s a bad day when your seventeen-year old-daughter and your 30-something ex-girlfriend tell you they are pregnant on the same day. Especially since your daughter is dating an older boy of whom you have never really approved and your ex- girlfriend is a woman you still love but weren’t ready to settle down with.
In Reining in the Rancher, rancher Johnny Griego starts off the book with just such a day. Johnny is a loner and while he and Thea Benedict hit it off in the bedroom, he wasn’t ready to lay out his heart and allow her to stomp on it. So he held himself back and their relationship ultimately fizzled. Now two months later, here she is on his doorstep.
Thea had gotten up the nerve to come tell Johnny about the baby, with the intention of telling him she would raise it and he didn’t have to worry. Before she could talk to him, his teenage daughter Rachel steps in and tells her the news about her pregnancy. Rachel enlists Thea’s help to tell Johnny because they had developed a good friendship during Thea and Johnny’s dating days. The story follows the two ladies as they blossom with pregnancy and try to figure out their love lives.
Rachel and her boyfriend have to decide if they can grow up together as well as build a life together. Thea and Johnny have to figure out if they can mend the fences from the past and move on. Johnny had a marriage and left it when Rachel’s mother decided Johnny was too much of a country boy for her. He was wounded and even though he had moved on, the hurt was still there. Thea, on the other hand, wanted something that Johnny couldn’t give, his undying love. So she broke off with him and hated that returning to him made her feel like she had groveled. But due to some category romance circumstances, they end up married and having to decide what kind of marriage they are going to have.
Rachel and her boyfriend were a bit too unbelievable. There is a scene when Jesse comes to pronounce his love for Rachel and he does so in front of the entire town at the end of Rachel’s high school graduation ceremony. I could not buy it. They went from immature teens to pretty savvy young lovers much more quickly than seemed reasonable.
There is a lot of internal dialogue and much of it involved Thea. It really helped to know her thoughts, but left out much of Johnny’s feelings. While reading this book, I found myself being a little bored, yet I liked Thea enough to want to know what happened to her. Johnny was not a well fleshed out character and I could not really connect to him. This made it difficult to be pulled into the romance. There was a lack of relationship building too. They talked at each other a lot but rarely with each other. Yet, Thea is a bit of a free spirit and her rambling and her almost sarcastic view on life was at times pretty humorous.
Reining in the Rancher is a different kind of story. On the one hand, it is unique and has some interesting scenes. But for the most part, it misses the mark and when it does, it leaves the reader needing more of something. It is one of those middle of the road stories that seem to abound in category romance these days.