|As I started to write this review, the word that came to mind was predictable. When I pulled up a list of synonyms, there were a few better descriptors Ė unsurprising, conventional and humdrum. That sums up my feelings about Expecting the Rahcnerís Heir, the latest entry into the Jarrod Dynasty series.
The Jarrods have inherited an Aspen resort from their father, who was a taskmaster and while technically a good father, he was not demonstrative in showing his love. Melissa is the youngest and the only girl (until they discovered a half-sister when her father passed away). Her mother died giving birth to her so she has always felt that loss very keenly. Melissa left home to go to college and rather than return to Aspen, she opened up her own business in Malibu. It is currently in the hands of her two friends, gay men who she trusts implicitly. Melissa is in Aspen running the family spa that is attached to the much larger resort. The terms of her fatherís will require that each of the children live and work at the resort for at least one year.
To pass the time, Melissa started a sizzling affair with a local rancher and one of the investors in the ranch, Shane McDermott. Shane is just a little older than she, but he is much older in experience. Shaneís ranch is one of the biggest in the state, even offering a beautiful waterfall. His parents are both deceased. When Shane was just nine, his mother left, saying she could no longer stand the wilderness and the isolated winters of the ranch. For several years, Shaneís dad
found his solace in a bottle. He loved Shane and treated him right but Shane swore that he would never give his heart to someone like his father did.
The story opens as Melissa is taking a pregnancy test. This is not what either she or Shane signed up forÖtheirs was to be a passionate affair ending when the spark was out with no one the wiser and no one hurt. Melissa confronts Shane and they go through the dance of how this is all going to work out. Surprising to him, Shane wants the marriage, as he wants his child to have two parents. But of course, he isnít willing to make the emotional commitment. This sets Melissa off on uncertainty, as she always wanted love along with marriage. And of course, she realizes she loves Shane.
The storyís strength was the characters. Despite the predictable plot, Melissa is a strong woman who isnít afraid to talk and question Shane when she isnít sure what he is thinking. Shane is a gentleman, a charmer and yet, a man who is not afraid to take chances and recognize that he wants something even if he hasnít worked out all the emotional aspects yet. I liked that about them both. There was just enough humor to offset the angst they felt at times and the other characters were those found in other tales Ė the quirky old ranch hand, the supportive best friend and the snobby upper-crust townspeople.
DeNosky has written a book that is easy to read; in fact, I read this book in less than three hours. But while it is a nice little romance, it offers little more than that. For those following the series, there is a continuation of the tales of Melissaís family and it appears that the unmarried brother will be getting his own story soon. For those who are new to it, Expecting the Rancherís Heir stands on its own; but its own is merely a pleasant account of two people grappling with love.