Friday, September 6, 2013

**GUEST REVIEW** Sugarwater Ranch by Stephanie Berget review by Barbara Stewart (Author of Rock and Roll Never Forgets)

Sugarwater Ranch by Stephanie Berget
        Series: Salt Creek Cowboys
        Paperback: 322 pages
Publisher: Evernight Publishing (August 24, 2013)

Synopsis from

Sean O’Connell’s life is perfect, or it was until his partying lifestyle affected his bull riding. Now he’s ended the season too broke to leave the Northwest for the warm southern rodeos. When a wild night with his buddies gets out of hand, he wakes up naked, staring into the angry eyes of a strange woman. His infallible O’Connell charm gets him nowhere with the dark-haired beauty. It’s obvious she’s not his usual good-time girl, so why can’t he forget her? Bar-manager Catherine Silvera finds a waterlogged, unconscious cowboy freezing to death in front of the Sugarwater Bar. She saves his life--then runs faster than a jackrabbit with a coyote on its tail. Any man who makes his living rodeoing is bad news, especially if he thinks partying is part of the competition. He’s everything she doesn’t want in a man, so why can’t she shake her attraction to the rugged cowboy?

My Review
Sugarwater Ranch is a story about bull-riding, rodeo-cowboy, Sean O’Connell, a man on a spiral - out of control. Sean is a fast living, not so real-world-savvy cowboy who feels the world owes him something. He believes that life handed him some sour grapes, causing him to distance himself from his family. He’s forced to get a “real job,” because he partied away his winnings from the rodeos. He’s good-looking, charming and… a cowboy.

Enter - Catherine. He has a run in with a woman who saves him, salvages the broken pieces and finds the man of her dreams – only sometimes she pushes the dream aside because she’s afraid of the possibilities; she’s afraid because of hurtful memories from her childhood. Catherine Silvera is a sweet, good-hearted, caring, determined woman - yet a sad-soul at times. Her past and her current situation - looking out for, and taking care of others, leave her hesitant.

This relationship between Catherine and Sean is enjoyable – but slow and repetitive at times – I had to go back several times because I felt as though I’d already ‘read that’, or I missed something. It’s a “slow dance of a love story,” that brings them together again and again, as a to build a hesitant relationship. Catherine gives Sean the desire and the drive to be a better man, but she’s easily distracted by the words of others, not giving him a chance.

Both characters carried a bit of baggage and they had to work through it before they were free to open themselves up to the other, and learn their ways to build and give trust.

This author is knowledgeable of the rodeo circuit lifestyle and that made it enjoyable and realistic. The characters and the story were well written, but I found myself wanting it to move quicker – not the relationship as much as the story it’s self.

Without giving any spoilers (I HATE WHEN OTHERS DO!) the situations at the end of the book that finally brought them together could've happened earlier in the story, keeping it from feeling so slow. I loved the Epilogue, and Junior was a bright spot, popping in and out of the story and making me smile when I was finding the story slow…

I think for a new author, the price for a Kindle download was a bit high. Enjoyable read… 4 Stars 

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