Review: Crooked Tree Ranch (Montana #1) by R.J. Scott

On the spur of the moment with his life collapsing around him Jayden Sullivan answers an ad for a marketing expert on a dude ranch in Montana. With his small family he moves lock stock and barrel from New York to Montana to start a new life.

Foreman and owner of a third of the ranch, ex rodeo star Nathaniel 'Nate' Todd has been running Crooked Tree Ranch. His partners in the business convince him that he needs to get an expert in to help the ranch survive. He knows things have to change and but when the new guy turns up, with a troubled family in tow - he just isn't prepared for how much.

Jay - city boy extraordinaire

Jay was recently laid off from his marketing job in New York.  He’s desperate to find work so he can support his small family.  He’s taken on the role of provider for his sister and her two kids.  After many unsuccessful attempts at landing a new job in the city he answers an ad for a business manager and marketing director at a dude ranch in Montana…

Nate -  gruff cowboy alpha male

Nate is co-owner of Crooked Tree Ranch, a dude ranch that has been in his family for generations.  After a meeting with one of his partners in which he’s informed they are on the down slope to going under he agrees to hire someone to come in and revamp the ranch and hopefully garner more business.  He never expected someone like Jay to answer their ad.

Jay and Nate were simply adorable together.  After a few false starts they eventually agree to become “friends with benefits” in order to avoid any feelings developing.  Yeah right.  Like that ever works out.  Both want more but is afraid to voice it.  Finally, they decide to cut all the bullshit and just tell each other how they feel.  I love it when honesty prevails and we don’t have to trudge through all the angst to get to the HEA.

There are two things RJ Scott really excels at.  The first is the slow burn.  I’m not normally fond of the slow burn.  I’m more of an insta-love fan.  I have the patience of a four year old who was just told they were going to visit Disney World soon.  When I come across a slow burn, while reading I usually end up saying something like “When are they going to get together?” or “Just hurry up and fuck already!”.  But with Ms. Scott’s books I get drawn in and find myself more invested in the story than the sexy times.  Don’t get me wrong.  I’m all for the sex but I like everything else that goes into one of her books just as much.  The way it is drawn out is not angst ridden.  It is more of a natural progression; something you would see or experience yourself in real life.  Funny thing is, this is the fastest I have ever read of her MC’s getting together.  Usually it takes months or even years with her characters.  This time it only took three weeks.  But it felt like a lot more time was spent with them getting to know each other.  It felt realistic and natural.

The second thing that RJ Scott is aces with is the portrayal of children and family.  In this book in particular, Josh, who is six acts just like a six year old would.  He’s excitable and exuberant and so completely normal and just an all around joy to read about.  Kirsten is a sullen 15 year old who is hiding behind her goth persona and bad attitude until she figures out who she is.  I can relate to every bit of it.  It just makes the book all the more believable.

I was thrilled at how the secondary story lines played out.  The portrayal of the secondary characters was thorough and fully fleshed out.  The time was taken to explain why some characters acted the way they did.  Take Henry for example.  When you first meet him you get the idea that he is just an intolerant, hate filled bastard.  As you get to know him you see there is way more to his story than simple hate.  There are reasons why he is the way he is.  That doesn’t excuse his behavior but at least you have some understanding as to why he acts as he does.

While the story does have a satisfying HEA, there are a few plot lines that are left open ended.  This excites me because it means there are more books to come.  I can’t wait!  I’m eager to read more about these families and how their lives mesh together.

ARC provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.


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