Judith Ann, Jude, Strayhorn is the only daughter of J.D. Strayhorn, owner of the Circle C. The Circle C is a large, well to do ranch in TX. Jude has studied everything she could in college so she would have the skills to take the reins of the ranch when given the opportunity but her father and grandfather see her as someone to marry off. They know that only a male would be able to run the ranch but do let Jude take care of buying the breeding bulls. Though Jude has many ideas for the ranch, she is unable to try any of them. She has her eye on a neighboring ranch. The owner recently died with no noticeable heir. It may make her father and grandfather really mad but at least, she could try out her ideas and it’s not like she doesn’t have the money in her trust account. So, she’s shocked on her way home from the bank to see an unfamiliar truck sitting in front of the ranch house.
Brady Fallon has lost just about everything that matters to him, his wife, his businesses and his son due to divorce. He’s shocked to learn that his aunt has left him her ranch, the 6-0. This is his chance to start over again and have a place for his son to visit. There’s a lot of work to be done without much money but that just means it’s going to take longer and he’s going to have to find a local job. When Jude shows up to accuse him of trespassing, he remembers her as a young girl. Boy, has she changed! There’s an attraction but after his rich wife screwed him over, Brady is not too sure he wants to have anything to do with another rich, spoiled woman.
Jude surprises him by showing up to help him make improvements to the ranch without complaint. Things really heat up though during an overnight trip to collect Brady’s horses. With Brady landing a job on the Circle C and J.D. not wanting Jude to have anything to do with the hired help, can they keep their relationship quiet or should they just give it up? Does Jude have ulterior motives behind helping Brady or does she really care? What’s going to happen when all the secrets are revealed?
The characters in this book have a depth that gives you insight into their motives and desires. Jude is smart and passionate. She knows what she wants and will do just about anything to get it but she also cares about people and their feelings. Brady is hard working and deeply loves his son and stepson. He’s been burnt but is willing to try again but not in secret. He is proud of who he is and what he wants to do. J.D. and his father are opinionated older men who know what is best for everyone. They have old fashion ideas and have no problem sharing them. Still, they do care about Jude even if they have no idea how to show it. Given all the strong personalities, you know some of them are going to butt heads and arguments are going to break out. The biggest question is, can they compromise or are breaks in store?
History and tradition are also a large part of this book and this fictional family. References are frequently given to prior family members and the beginnings of the Circle C. There is a curse on the family, which is well known and believed in. There is also knowledge that loyal workers will always have a job and that loyalty is valued. Brady looks at the Strayhorns as part of a dynasty that he has no part in nor is he sure he would want one.
Even though some of the characters and scenes seem a bit stereotypic or dramatic, this book has enough surprises to keep the reader interested and with the desire to know what next. J.D. has hand picked a husband for Jude but she doesn’t love him or want him. Brady is almost forced to decide between his job and Jude. Jude finds herself in a fix and Brady is the only one who can save her. Still, the characters are warm and while some of the events seem a bit dramatic, for the most part they are possible and maybe even probable.
I don’t know much about ranches or cattle or breeding livestock, yet this book was able to bring me into a world that all of those things were commonplace. Typical ranch life and all it entails was weaved in the story so that the reader learned about when calves were due and breeding practices without being lectured or made to feel as though you were missing something.
Overall, I’d love to curl up in front of a fire on a cold winter’s afternoon and loose myself in the heat of west Texas, the Circle C and Jude and Brady’s relationship.
A powerful ranching dynasty, the Campbell-Strayhorn family has had more than its share of scandal and tragedy. Now, the current generation will do whatever it takes to ensure the survival of thevast Circle C—along with their tiny Texas town—even if it means betraying those they love…
Jude Strayhorn, the smart, free-spirited daughter of the Circle C’s CEO, intends to own her deceased neighbor’s abandoned ranch, the 6-0. When she catches a stranger trespassing, she discovers, to her dismay, the too-handsome cowboy is not a criminal, but an heir with plans of his own...
Although it’s been years since Brady Fallon set foot in Willard County, rebuilding the 6-0 means everything to him. Until, that is, he encounters the beautiful Jude Strayhorn. To make ends meet, he hires on as a Circle C ranch hand, only then realizing it’ll be harder than he thought to avoid a tangle with the boss’s daughter—especially one who wants the 6-0 for herself.
Sadie Callahan is also known as Anna Jeffrey