The Wrangler by Lindsay McKenna
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Val Hunter has come home to Wyoming. Not that she wanted to, but her grandmother asked for her help and she would do anything her grandmother asks of her. Gus (Augusta Hunter) is a small dynamo that has had a hard time keeping the ranch going since a hip injury. As much as Val hates the Bar H Ranch, she took a hardship discharge from the Air Force to come home. Gus hopes that they will begin to create good memories to overshadow the bad as they work together to save the ranch.
Gus saved Val's life years ago. Val's father was an abusive drunk who beat up on both Val and her mother Cheryl. Cheryl never pressed charges against him, even after sending Cheryl to the hospital in serious condition, therefore her father (Buck) never served time. That was when Gus stepped in, sold her ranch near Cheyenne after her husband died and came home to stay. Buck was afraid of Gus so after Gus moved in Buck never touched either Val or her mother.
Val left home at age eighteen for college and then joined the Air Force, she has been an intelligence officer working in drug enforcement for the last several years. Buck died of a heart attack and the running of the ranch landed on Cheryl who did a poor job. She was never a partner in the ranch, Buck did it all and never shared any of the business responsibilities with her and Cheryl was not a good judge of character so picked wranglers that stole from her and did not work. Therefore the ranch is in trouble and Val needs to hire a wrangler that will work and manager the ranch, someone they can trust. Val visits Andy's Horse Emporium to talk to Andy about a man he recommends for the wrangler position. Val is a little leery because this man grew up in New York and has never been a wrangler before, but she will let Gus make the final decision.
Griff McPherson has also come home. Although he left when he was six, Wyoming still feels like home to him. At age six Griff and his twin brother Slade lost their parents in a car accident and were split between uncles growing up. Griff ended up being a Wall Street banker until the crash and he lost everything. Coming home to the family ranch where Slade worked was the only thing he had left but it was the best thing he could ever do. He stayed with his brother for awhile but there is some unfinished business between them and they need some healing away from each other before they can be the family they should be.
Griff convinces both Val and Gus to take a chance on him for their wrangler position, he moves in the ranch house and finally he feels at home. Gus likes him instantly however Val is wary and does not trust easily so she is distant until he works his way into her heart.
This is a wonderful story of healing, love, trust and coming home. I loved the interaction between Gus, Val and Griff. They were believable and convincing as people who have a lot to overcome before they can move on. There are several obstacles in the way, Griff is helping the FBI with a drug cartel they believe is doing business in their little community, Griff and his brother need to mend their conflict and Val needs to overcome her fear of men and commitment. A compelling read all the way until the end with an opening for the next book to continue with several of the characters. I am looking forward to more.
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