Have I told you how much I like Ms. Moore’s books? Yes I have! But I will say it again, because for some reason she’s a bit of a hidden gem and I want to help spread the word. If you like Contemporary Romance, small-town stories and horses, then you should be reading her books right now.
Our heroine, Tess, is a recent widow who had a very traumatic experience with her husband and decided to start anew. A friend encourages her to pick a random spot on the map and that’s how she ends up in a ranch in California, where she’s greeted with open arms by everyone but the owners’ son, Ward.
The thing is that Ward is equal parts attracted and wary of Tess. But once he realizes the attraction is there to stay, he decides to pursue her. Slowly but surely they fall in love, but Tess has secrets, so will they come back to haunt her? Of course they will!
If you read the blurb, you probably will assume that this is yet another light Contemporary Romance with a broody cowboy and a damaged heroine. Been there, done that, right? Well, yes, this is a story we have read many times before, however, it still manages to feel fresh, because Laura Moore is a great storyteller and knows how to engage the reader. What makes other similar books predictable and formulaic, in the hands of Ms. Moore becomes comforting and pleasantly familiar.
I liked Tess, even though at times she acted way too insecure. But let’s face it, insecure heroines aren’t the devil (when done right), and the type of relationship that develops between Tess and Ward is predictable but very enjoyable. Tess slowly becomes confident, and at one point, she’s even able to walk away and put herself first. She also does something that’s unexpected and morally ambiguous, so kudos to her for breaking the mold when it counts.
Ward is supposed to be this perennial bachelor whose ex’s evil ways turned him into a jaded cynic, but that’s not the case at all, and in fact, once he falls in love, he accepts and embraces it. Yes, he fell for a gold digger, and I wish authors would stop writing evil exes that do nothing but make me judge the hero’s taste, but as I said, this is a story we have read many times before, and the villainous ex comes with the territory.
And speaking of the villainous ex, she was one twirling moustache short of a cartoon character, and her only role in the story was to cause the big misunderstanding. I loved every second of it, but I’m also perfectly capable of noticing just how trite the whole thing was. And since I’m complaining, I must say that the ending didn’t have enough groveling, something that felt disconnected from the overall tone of the final chapters.
There are also adorable secondary characters that I’m sure will get their own books eventually. None of them felt intrusive, but they were all present enough to make me interested in their particular stories.
That’s it. I loved this book for all the right and wrong reasons. It’s emotional, well-written, entertaining, and it felt a bit like coming home. I’m sure the reasons that made me love it will make some hate it, and I wouldn’t universally recommend it, but reading it left me with a very satisfying feeling of content.
Review by Brie
Sweeping passions, family drama, and searing scandal play out at the magnificent Silver Creek Ranch as the heirs to a powerful dynasty seize their legacy of love.
Oldest son Ward Knowles feels the sprawling California ranch in his blood. And now that the family business has expanded to include a popular resort, he’s working harder than ever. Silver Creek is his legacy and his life, which is fine for the ruggedly sexy ladies’ man and committed bachelor. Love and trust don’t come easily for Ward since he lost his heart to a gold digger—until he meets a shy, unpretentious beauty whose sweet grace is about to turn his jaded heart into a hungry one.
Tess Casari has found sanctuary at Silver Creek, working as an assistant to Ward’s mother, Adele. Grateful for her busy new life running the ranch’s spa and resort, Tess can escape the heartbreak, humiliation, and secret shame of her failed marriage. The last thing she needs is temptation—especially from a man who reminds her so much of the husband who shattered her faith in love. But passion and destiny are about to change the rules for two people who have stopped believing in the healing power of loveOnce Tempted: A Silver Creek Novel by Laura Moore
Ballantine Books. March 26, 2013