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Five hundred acres of gorgeous California land is a life-changer for cousins Cash, Jace, and Sawyer—and a surprising chance for each of them to find a game-changing love . . .

Sheriff Jace Dalton’s plate is piled high even before he discovers a stranded motorist just a few miles from his home. With two lively young boys to raise, challenging reelection to win, and a hefty tax bill due on the ranch, all he wants at the end of the day is a shower and a cold beer. But the woman in the packed SUV clearly needs his help—and though she’s a stranger, Jace finds himself wanting to turn her haunted look into a smile . . .

Fleeing her abusive boyfriend, Charlotte Holcomb thought she’d escaped before she lost everything, but more heartache was to come. Now, sidetracked by a brewing storm, Charlotte has to trust the handsome sheriff. Just one night, she tells herself, before she’s on her way again. But when gentle Jace and his kids offer the kind of sanctuary she never imagined possible, it’s hard to say goodbye. Soon the two wary strangers are becoming friends, and longing to open their hearts to more—if they can move beyond the pain of their pasts.

Titles in the Dry Creek Ranch series include – Cowboy UpCowboy Tough – 

Title:  Cowboy Tough
Series:  Dry Creek Ranch #2
Author:  Stacy Finz
Genre:  Modern Western Romance
Published:  February 4, 2020
Publisher:  Kensington Books
My Rating:  4.5 stars

Cowboy Tough is the second title in the Dry Creek Ranch series, and if you’re following the series then you’ve met Jace and his young sons before.  If you’re just coming to this world then you’ll feel right at home.  I would, however, suggest going back to the first story, Cowboy Up, for it’s a delightful tale and these cousins definitely have intertwined lives in many ways.  There is domestic abuse in this story – if that is a trigger for you then be aware.

I was easily caught up in Jace and Charlie’s story.  Two ordinary people placed in an extraordinary situation will find that the attraction between them grows in spite of their efforts to just ignore it.  Jace has his hands full with his boys, his job and the ranch.  Charlie is on the run from an abusive man who will harm her should he ever catch up with her, she has no choice but to put up walls to protect not only herself but the kindness of strangers as well.  What I liked most about Cowboy Tough was the feeling of simply everyday people dealing the best they can with what is in front of them.  They may each want to follow a different path to that dealing, but these are two good people that bad things have happened to – and, to be frank, that is scary as heck.  Their romance is definitely a slow burn as Charlie recuperates, makes decisions that probably are putting her in danger but she simply doesn’t want to leave this man and his boys.  She wants a life like the one she’s starting to create here, a future, and maybe she’s ready to take a stand right here and face what comes at her.

I enjoyed Cowboy Tough immensely and I’m already anticipating the next story in this series.  You’ll find tears, laughter, some shenanigans from Jace’s boys, some very real danger for Charlie and a supporting cast that will soon feel like old friends.  I had fun and that’s the whole point.  If you love a good, solid romance, a couple you’ll want to find their way to a happy ending, and a sense of family in your romances, then you’ll love this one.

*I received an e-ARC of this novel from the publisher via NetGalley. That does not change what I think of this story.  It is my choice to leave a review giving my personal opinion about this book.*

Available in paperback and for the Kindle