Take one klutzy advice columnist turned reporter with a secret past, mix her with a devilishly handsome, charming cowboy with a secret past, add in a bet gone wild and a touch of instant, explosive attraction, bake with a town that has about as much quirkiness as any romance novel can have, and you have yourself a charming and comedic romance.
Betting on Hope By Debra Clopton has Maggie Hope, advice columnist turned reporter when her friend gets sick right before the interview, traveling to Wishing Springs to interview Tru Monahan, champion horse trainer and rider. City girl meets cowboy and the sparks fly the minute Tru accepts the bet Maggie makes that he can’t teach Maggie to ride a horse. So Maggie has two months to learn to ride a horse and compete in a cutting competition, all while she is seriously afraid of horses, is a serious klutz and has to interview Tru throughout this whole set up. Not to mention a past that is quickly starting to catch up to her and may make her life a lot more messy than it is.
Then there is Tru. Struggling to deal with his past, he keeps a lot bottled up while trying to save the ranch his grandfather started, The Four Hearts Ranch, from bankruptcy with his three other brothers. Now he has to add in teaching a skittish ‘filly’ how to ride while falling in love with her, but not wanting to share a secret that might make a woman turn tail and run. At least in his opinion.
But you have the people of Wishing Springs betting on Maggie and Tru, helping out along the way and nudging these two lovebirds together despite both Maggi and Tru fighting it. Oh, will the cowboy sweep his lady off her feet? Will the Lady accept? Will Maggie learn to trust Tru with her secrets and keep from falling off a horse? What is to become of these two? Oh, but you will have to read it to find out.
As a piece of fluff, Christian romance, this wasn’t bad; not great, but not bad. Silly, and a little ridiculous with the name of the town and the way the townspeople act. (I live in a small town. No one acts like that, nor does it have a whole volunteer fire department filled with sexy men. I wish) I liked Tru and his brothers, but at the same time, the secrets Tru was holding on to made me bang my head and go “Why!?” Yes, he has a past that might make a woman run, but this is where I go, honesty, please. But then the story wouldn’t have been driven the way it was. And Maggie has her own set of fears and secrets that are keeping her from really trusting and connecting with Tru. I was actually worried that this story wouldn’t turn out okay. I thought both the hero and heroine might blow it and not tell each other their history. And that would have been a shame because you could feel the tension and desire in both Tru and Maggie and you just wanted to shout, “Kiss her, already!”
I was left hanging several times with plot lines and the flow of the story. And I was a little disappointed that there was this constant ‘I like you, I can’t have you, but I want you, but I have a secret, but I love you, but I’m not right for you, but, but, but. I would love to read a story where the hero tells his intentions at the beginning then woos the girl. I mean, there was enough of Maggie’s apprehension that you didn’t need to add in Tru’s.
I also want to mention that the theme of klutzy young woman who is not a reporter having to interview someone intimidating struck me as a bit like Fifty Shades of Grey (I have not ‘read’ the book, but I have listened to the first chapter or two.) The similarities there felt very obvious. Maybe it’s me. The plot of the story is much better than Fifty Shades. There really isn’t even a comparison, but I did notice that little bit and found it slightly contrived.
A cutsy, fun read. I’d give it three out of five stars. (personally the best part of the book was the cover illustration.)
This book was graciously provided to me for my honest review by HarperCollins Christian Publishing and BookLookBloggers.