Cowboy Romances are a sure way to my heart so I was plenty excited to read Gambling on a Secret. This was the first time I had read any of Sara Walter Ellwood’s books so I was a little unsure what to expect but between the western setting, the romance and the suspense, I was not one bit disappointed.
The Good: The characters make the book. Dylan…a big ole cowboy with a hurting heart of gold, hidden under a veneer of alcohol and disillusionment. Charli…the former runaway with a colorful past who has had the helping hand she now wants to extend to others. You put the two of them together and it becomes a match made in, well somewhere. They both have their demons to face down and that makes the story all the more real and touching. They both climbed into my heart and stayed there for the entire ride. Their interaction was human and realistic and completely irresistible. The villain was superb, hidden behind seemingly good intent and generosity and the mysterious events kept the story suspenseful all the way to the end.
The Bad: There were times where there was so much story going on that the romance took a back seat. Of course, that is not all bad. I guess it all depends on what you are looking for. I did not like having animals harmed…that really got to me but perhaps that was the point. All in all, it was very well written and had such a great setting and fabulous characters that I really cannot hold anything against Ms. Walter Ellwood.
The Snuggly: The connection between Charli and Dylan was practically tangible, right from the start. Talk about chemistry! They had it in spades and I loved it. Their relationship was spicy, in every sense – verbal sparring, physical intimacy, and everything in between. For me, their romance was handled perfectly – they did not jump into bed the moment they laid eyes on each other. Their relationship built over time and through events both endured and enjoyed together. Once they were close, the sizzle and steam could probably be felt for miles. Ms. Walter Ellwood made sure you were aware of the sensual nature of their intimacy but did not go overboard on the details. It felt very organic to the story and I would not have had her write it any other way.
Gambling on a Secret is a definite keeper in my book. It is still not a story for the under 18 crowd but if you are a fan of western romance, love your cowboys tender-hearted and completely dependable, your heroines strong and supportive with some spice thrown into their relationship and a dash of suspense add, you will love this book.
When Charli bets everything on a secret, will she find the deck stacked against her?
Former runaway-turned heiress Charli Monroe is hiding her sordid past and planning a future in Colton, Texas. Attending the local college for a degree in social work, she intends to raise cattle on her newly purchased ranch, which she plans to open as a home for troubled teens. Only a few glitches—the Victorian mansion is crumbling, the barn needs a roof, and her oilman neighbor wants more than friendship. When she meets Dylan Quinn, Charli is willing to take a chance on the town drunk to help her rebuild the rundown ranch.
Dylan has his demons, too. The former Special Forces commander can’t get past his ex-wife’s betrayal and the botched mission that left him with much more than a bad limp. Certain the greedy oilman next door to Charli wants much more than just her heart, Dylan’s even willing to stop drinking in order to protect her.
When things get dangerous and secrets of the past are revealed, is he only looking out for his new employer, or is she the new start he so desperately needs?