Title: SHOULD'VE SAID NO
Series: Thistle Bend #1
Author: Tracy March
Format: Kindle, 226 pages
Published: Loveswept (November 24, 2015)
ISBN: ASIN: B00U4VFSAM
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
Rating: 4 out of 5 Wine Glasses
Welcome to Thistle Bend! Perfect for fans of Susan Mallery, this charming series debut introduces a small town where old secrets are revealed—and wounded hearts are opened to new love.
A year after being laid off from the Smithsonian, Lindsey Simms says yes to a job offer as curator of a heritage museum in Thistle Bend, Colorado (population 1,519). It could be worse—and it is. Because the new museum has escalated a dispute between the Karlssons, Lindsey’s relatives, and the Crenshaws, a blood feud which goes way back to a land deal that changed the fortunes of both families. Trying to stay objective, Lindsey can’t tell anyone about her conflict of interest—especially not the ruggedly handsome handyman fixing up her cabin, who seems to be keeping secrets of his own.
Although he’s the executive director of the family trust and one of Colorado’s most eligible bachelors, Carden Crenshaw prefers getting his hands dirty in town and on his sprawling ranch. Staying busy has given him an excuse not to risk heartbreak, but getting to know the beautiful “museum lady” makes him reconsider. Little does he know, the heat between them will only add fuel to the fire—unless this unlikely couple can prove they’re lovers, not fighters.
Teeth clenched, she swiped the light switch next to the door, but all she got was a 'click.'
"Ugh," Lindsey moaned. She'd need to flip a breaker, and for that she'd need a flashlight. But that would only fix things if the power was actually on.
"I'm working on that." The deep voice with a drawl came from the dark hallway, and the man that matched it stepped out of the shadows.
SHOULD'VE SAID NO by Tracy March is a lovely contemporary small-town romance and marks a captivating start to her brand-new Thistle Bend series. The series gets its name from its setting in Thistle Blend, Colorado - famous as the wildflower capital of the state - with a population of 1,519. The author's writing adeptly transports the reader into the beautiful and whimsical setting. This is the story of Lindsey Simms, an out-of-work museum curator, and rancher Carden Crenshaw. Carden also happens to be the town's handyman, filthy rich and one of Colorado's most eligible bachelors.
As the story opens, Lindsey not only has lost her job at the Smithsonian, but she's also been jilted by her fiancé. Her job hunt was not going well until she learns about an opening in Thistle Bend from distant relatives who reside there. She gets the much-needed position, but there's complications. She arrives to a dilapidated rental home that was glowingly advertised to her via pictures from years ago. Even more disturbing, she finds that, as the town's newcomer, she's expected to settle a near century-old blood feud reminiscent of that of the Hatfields vs McCoys with her relatives as one of the protagonists and a sexy rancher as a party to the other side. While she's very grateful to her relations for the job and she has feelings for the rancher, she is determined to present the history of the town accurately and not take sides. However, despite her best efforts to discover the truth, the bona fide rendition of what happened in a long-ago land deal that decided the town's course remains elusive.
I found both the hero and heroine to be likeable and realistic. Each had issues that had me shaking my head at them in the book. Can their blossoming romance survive once the secrets that both hold are divulged?
I had so many favorite scenes in this book. Some included visits to the town's Get the Scoop Ice Cream Shoppe. Here's a short snippet from just one of the scenes that includes a listing of some of their unique flavors that day. They all sound delicious to me!:
"Let's start with ice cream and go from there."
"You're gonna love it." Holly nodded. "All their ingredients are fresh, and they make the most delicious, wackiest flavors you've ever heard of."
Clearly she'd forgotten that Lindsey had come from D.C. "Like what?"
"Honey lavender. Sweet corn raspberry. Toasted coconut fudge. Lemon fig....blueberry pie... marshmallow peach... salted caramel chocolate chunk..."
Following please find a few of my favorite quotes from this charming read:
He smoothed his fingers along her jaw line and lifted her chin, kissing her gently, testing.
Lindsey went light-headed with the rush of sensation, the touch of his lips leaving her longing for more. Clutching his shirt in her fingers - napkin and all - she pulled him closer, melting into his kiss. Carden took it from tentative to tender, then parted her lips with the velvety sweep of his tongue. She matched his languid rhythm, hypnotized. He was all chocolate and caramel, creamy cool and sweet.
No doubt he was 31 flavors of trouble, but resisting him seemed impossible.
She stepped over to the model. "The little town looks so sweet in the moonlight."
And so did Lindsey. Her sexy silhouette had him riveted in place. He knew better, but his instincts urged him to go to her. Joining her next to the model, he skimmed his fingertips over her bare shoulder and down her arm. He reached her hand and languidly laced his fingers between hers. "Not nearly as sweet as you look," he whispered close to her ear...
She smoothed her fingertips down his cheeks and cupped his face in her hands. "I'm not sure it can get any better."
He sucked in a ragged breath. "Oh, darlin'," he said, sliding his finger beneath one of the straps of her sundress and guiding it off of her shoulder. "I promise you it can." He kissed the spot where the strap had been and drew his fingers up her thighs with a light, feathery touch. "And I'm a man who keeps his promises."
Being a quaint small-town, the citizenry of Thistle Bend is close-knit and laid-back. Everyone knows everyone else's business - with the sole exception of being wise to what happened four generations ago to ignite the bone of contention betwixt the two quarrelling families. I got a special kick out of the Montgomery sisters, who were a cross between Bewitched, Charmed and the Golden Girls.
SHOULD'VE SAID NO is well-written and well-paced. The reader can look forward to a highly satisfying happy ever after ending. I'm looking forward to returning to Thistle Bend with the next book in this series which is scheduled to be released mid-2016. I would recommend SHOULD'VE SAID NOT to anyone who enjoys entertaining small-town romances.
Suggested Reading Order:
SHOULD'VE SAID NO (Book #1)
JUST SAY MAYBE (Book #2)