Drake Carson is the 2nd of the 3 Carson brothers who own a large ranch. The day to day operation of the ranch is his responsibility. He is losing mares to a wild stallion and he is not happy about it. He is also losing cattle and he does not know if it is rustlers or wild animals.
Lucinda (Luce) Hale is doing research on the wild horses that live in WY and she is on the Carson ranch observing the gray stallion she calls Smoke and the other members of his herd. Drake is not happy that she is on his land and wants to try and get close to Smoke. Luce is feisty and strong willed and she does not back down from Drake's demands that she leave the herd alone.
A solution for the wild horses must be found and Drake and Luce disagree on what should be done and of course the romance sparks fly.
Horses, dogs and a wild bobcat are part of the story.
Good book. Second in the Carson series, this book is about Drake, the middle brother. Older brother, Slater (Once a Rancher), is the producer of documentaries, and younger brother, Mace, is in charge of the family winery. Drake runs the family ranch, which is just right for him. The land and its traditions are his life's blood. Not to say there aren't challenges to go along with it. For the past year they have been losing calves to a mountain lion, and there's a herd of wild horses whose stallion has been stealing Drake's mares. As icing on the cake, he finds a beautiful woman trespassing on his land.
Luce is a graduate student working on a paper about how wild horses interact with ranch animals and humans. Drake's mom, an old friend of Luce's mom, has invited Luce to stay at the ranch while she does her research. This puts her into Drake's path far too often for either's comfort, at least at the beginning.
I loved the first meeting between Drake and Luce. He sees that wild stallion close and is determined to catch him and move him away from the ranch and his mares. He doesn't catch him, but he does scare them off, bringing on the wrath of Luce, who has been observing them all day. I loved seeing her stand up to Drake and fuss at him. At the same time, he listened but wasn't overly receptive to her rants. But underneath the confrontation is a different kind of spark, the spark of attraction, which disturbs them both. They go head to head a few times over his resistance to cooperating with his research, and her insistence that she's well able to take care of herself out on the range. They eventually work out a compromise that has them spending time together, time that brings their simmering attraction to a full boil.
I really liked seeing the two of them get to know each other and learn to respect what the other does. Once they get past their initial antagonism, Drake's true personality really begins to shine. He is funny, charming, passionate, and just a bit old-fashioned. He was very protective, especially when the mountain lion got bolder. He pretty quickly realizes what it is he feels for Luce, and is determined in his pursuit of her. Luce knows what she's feeling, too, but she has her life planned out, and staying in rural Wyoming isn't part of it. I enjoyed the realism of seeing two people who loved each other work to figure out how to make things work between them. The wedding scene was sweet, and his honeymoon plans were super romantic.
As always, the secondary characters added extra depth to the story. My favorite was ranch foreman Red. He had some great cowboy sayings, and seems pretty ordinary, until you get to see a bit of his private life. I also loved Drake's mom and her not always subtle attempts to get him and Luce together. I liked seeing more of Slater, Grace and Ryder, and how they are settling in to life together. Ryder has a couple of good scenes with Drake and Luce, too. I enjoyed the teasing that Mace inflicts on his brothers, and that they aren't slow about returning the favor. Though they bicker and snipe, they are always first in line to support each other. I also liked seeing Lettie get involved in their wild horse problem. She is a force to be reckoned with. I'm looking forward to reading Mace's story.
YLOBIRD - reviewed Always a Cowboy (Carsons of Mustang Creek, Bk 2) on
Really. Oh LLM, you can do better. Luce is so arrogant, bossy, opinionated and full of herself - no redeeming characteristics besides being easy on the eyes. Poor Drake Carson must have been very hard up for female companionship. Why didn't he do what he set out to do - ignore her? I wanted her to be gone.
Other than the main characters, the rest of the book was okay for a LLM, and I usually really like what she writes. Not this one.
Wish there was another "Man From Stone Creek."