STARRED REVIEW
June 19, 2018

Best laid plans

By Maisey Yates

Maisey Yates gives readers a twist on the friends-to-lovers trope by adding layers of negative family history on both sides, considerably raising the emotional stakes in her latest romance, Untamed Cowboy. Kaylee Capshaw has been in love with Bennett Dodge since she was 13, but to protect her heart, she never pursued him. She’s struggled to cope with unrequited feelings ever since, even as the best friends share a veterinary practice in rural Gold Valley, Oregon. Kaylee has psychological reasons to keep her attraction to Bennett a secret—her parents’ marriage was a disaster and Kaylee was constantly aware she was unwanted and unloved. Her friendship with Bennett is important to her and Yates develops a long, comfortable, affectionate history between them.

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Maisey Yates gives readers a twist on the friends-to-lovers trope by adding layers of negative family history on both sides, considerably raising the emotional stakes in her latest romance, Untamed Cowboy. Kaylee Capshaw has been in love with Bennett Dodge since she was 13, but to protect her heart, she never pursued him. She’s struggled to cope with unrequited feelings ever since, even as the best friends share a veterinary practice in rural Gold Valley, Oregon. Kaylee has psychological reasons to keep her attraction to Bennett a secret—her parents’ marriage was a disaster and Kaylee was constantly aware she was unwanted and unloved. Her friendship with Bennett is important to her and Yates develops a long, comfortable, affectionate history between them.

After his mother’s death when he was a child, followed by too many stepmothers to count, Bennett has followed a strict plan for his life that ensures a quiet, well-organized existence. Powerful emotion isn’t allowed and he’s unaware that he subconsciously, purposefully, never considered Kaylee as a potential girlfriend. When his sensible fiancée breaks off their engagement and immediately falls in love with another man, Bennett is at loose ends. He’s disappointed but thinks he’s coping with the situation as well as could be expected. But then his regimented life is hit by a bombshell when a social worker arrives on his doorstep with the son he didn’t know existed.

Bennett’s determined to meet the challenge of fatherhood and turns to Kaylee for support. While they’re taking a break from their worries at a bar one night, she bluntly tells him that if he’s looking for a hookup, she’ll volunteer. He’s shocked but also instantly, overwhelmingly, in favor of the idea. Neither of them expected their reckless decision to have such far-reaching consequences. Their connection is earthshaking, laying bare all the emotions they’ve both denied for years, and they’re both knocked off kilter. Yates does an excellent job of painting two honest, vulnerable people who are each carrying a ton of baggage from their childhoods. Nevertheless, they are equally determined to find their way past their scarred psyches to secure a future together.

 

Lois Dyer writes from her home in Port Orchard, Washington.

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Untamed Cowboy

Untamed Cowboy

By Maisey Yates
HQN
ISBN 9781335900708

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