Title: Melt My Heart, Cowboy
Author: C.J. Carmichael
Series: Love at the Chocolate Shop #1
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Length: Short novel
Available: 6th Oct
Who is the handsome cowboy who comes into small town Marietta’s chocolate shop every week to buy a box of chocolates? More importantly…who is he buying the chocolates for? These are the questions sales clerk Rosie Linn asks herself as she waits for her sadly neglected childhood home to sell so she can pursue an exciting new career in L.A.
Rosie finds out the answers the day rugged ranch hand Brant Willingham introduces himself and asks for her help in managing the care of his younger sister. Brant’s mother has recently died, leaving him the sole guardian of eighteen-year-old Sara Maria–who has been a puzzle to Brant ever since she began exhibiting signs of autism at age two.
Rosie and Brant come up with a plan. She’ll help with his sister if he handles repairs and a new paint job for her old house. It seems the perfect solution, but a new dilemma is created when the couple start spending time together. Brant discovers he doesn’t want Rosie to sell and leave, and Rosie fears she will have to choose between love and her dreams.
Source: Review copy from Tule Publishing via NetGalley
There’s something immensely comforting about books set in Marietta, especially as it’s been a while since I last read one. The place is familiar, so are some of the characters, and I already know I’m going to get a comfortable romance that’s perfect to curl up with now that autumn’s swung around.
And on the whole that’s what I got. Rosie is a nice woman who has sacrificed a lot for her family, but is now on the brink of escaping to the world and spreading her wings. I liked her, even if her attempts to constantly hide her scriptwriting skills was kind of baffling. If someone had mocked her over it, or said she was stupid, it might have made more sense, but she’s from a family of writers so… not that it matters.
I liked her relationship with Sara Maria and how easily they became friends. I also loved how she had no real preconceptions of what Sara Maria would be like, so was able to let her be herself more. I liked Sara Maria too and I loved that she was a fully fledged character rather than just the autistic sister.
Brant I was less fond of. Sure, growing up can’t have been fun when he was constantly asked to watch his sister, but his refusal to see Sara Maria as she is now and his unwillingness to engage with her didn’t win many sympathy points from me. Nor did the way he gets annoyed when Rosie has the temerity to point it out. I did, however, like the way he tries never to hold Rosie back and the way he encourages her to live her dreams.
Quite a lot of the book is also taken up with Portia’s arrival and troubles, which although interesting I did feel took the focus away from the central romance quite a bit. I’m a fan of C.J. Carmichael’s Marietta/Carrigans of Circle C books, so I knew who Portia was and how she fitted into things, but at the same time, I wished she hadn’t taken up so much space. While I enjoyed the friendship that formed between her and Rosie and their plans for expanding the chocolate shop business, the sense that Rosie was always leaving meant I didn’t enjoy this side of things as much as I’d hoped.
Another thing I didn’t like so much was the time jump between the last few chapters. It made the ending very abrupt and I would have liked to have seen at least something from all the main characters in the interim.
Overall, though, this is a sweet, enjoyable start to this new Marietta series. If I’m honest I think I enjoyed the female friendships more than the romance, but I really liked the positive representation of Sara Maria’s autism. In all a good start to the series, in a pleasant, undemanding way, and I look forward to seeing whose stories comes next.
Melt My Heart, Cowboy is out October 6th.
Visit C.J. Carmichael for more details.