Tessa's Pride by Olivia Brynn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
As this was my first read by Ms. Brynn, I had no expectations when I started to read this book. Now that I've finished, the bar's been set and I've learned to expect a good story with nice, well-drawn characters from her.
Tessa McCade is a young woman determined to make it in the testosterone-driven horse-breeding business. She's been quite successful running the Bradley Equine Ranch (BER) in the past few years, proving that a woman can own and run a stock farm as well as any man, but now she's on the verge of bankruptcy: forty (almost all) of her horses had been diagnosed with Equine infectious anemia (EIA) and had to be euthanized, leaving her with just two studs and three mares - and no livelihood.
Joshua Bradley should have been the owner of the BER by birthright, but he let his father buy him out and left the ranch - and Tessa - when it became clear that the two men were too strong headed to work together. When his father died unexpectedly one year ago, Josh was the only one who wasn't surprised when Tessa was named the new owner of the BER. Unbeknownst to her, he's always kept track of her while they were apart and when news about her predicament reaches his ears, he decides it's time he went back to the BER. Will that be just for the time it takes to help Tessa get back on her feet or for good?
I really liked Tessa and Josh. She was strong and independent, but not extremely so. Sometimes authors push too hard and make their heroines act too stubbornly just to prove their strength and independence, but Ms. Brynn knew where to draw the line. Tessa cried when crying was due and knew how to accept help without seeing it as a threat to her independence. Josh was a dream hero: caring, protective without being overbearing and oh-so-sexy - as in "I want to eat him with a spoon and lick it until my tongue cramps", LOL. After such statement, do I really need to say that Tessa and Josh had great sexual chemistry? Yeah, I didn't think so. (To get a sample of how hot Tessa and Josh's chemistry is, go to Ms. Brynn's website and read Tempting Tessa, a free - and very steamy - prequel to Tessa's Pride.)
This was a short story and the ending suffered from it, but Ms. Brynn's writing was solid and good enough to develop a sweet love story with a little bit of mystery considering the word count limitation. The ending was rushed and I didn't like being simply told what happened, but the epilogue (kind of) made up for it.
All in all, I enjoyed my foray into Ms. Brynn's work and I can see myself reading her again in the future.
Note: I received this eARC from Carina Press via NetGalley. That had no influence on my review/rating.
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