Title: Wrangling A Groom (Marital Bliss #1)
Author: DJ Jamison
Release Date: October 10, 2019
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance
Page Count: 305
Reviewed by: ParisDude
Heat Level: 4 flames out of 5
Rating: 3.70 stars out of 5
Can two men keep a childhood promise for marital bliss?
Wyatt is overwhelmed after his grandfather dies, leaving him to take over the cattle ranch. The Triple J is floundering, vandals are targeting him, and his first and only love is finally within reach–and still holding a grudge. Wyatt has wanted to marry Diego since they made a childhood pact, but Diego isn’t back for their second chance.
When a funeral calls Diego back to Texas, he comes face-to-face with the cowboy who broke his heart. Resentment has burned inside him for years, but his anger wavers as he realizes just how much Wyatt is struggling to keep his head above water. The man he once loved is lonely and burdened, and Diego feels compelled to help him rediscover the strong, capable rancher he knows him to be.Hostility gives way to passion, then friendship as they fall into a rhythm of work and sex. Wyatt has renewed hope he might wrangle the man he wants to be his groom. But Diego has a life waiting for him one thousand miles away, and love may not be enough to prevent history from repeating itself.
Wrangling a Groom is Book 2 of the Marital Bliss series, but it can be read as a standalone.
Well, I did like the first book of this “Marital Bliss” series and held high hopes for the second book. I was slightly disappointed, alas. The author sets the plot on a fictitious Texan farm, the Tripe J, the owner of which has just passed away, leaving his grand-son Wyatt Jones as sole heir. It has taken the young man several years to make his granddad accept his being gay. That struggle has cost him, at 19, his all-time childhood buddy, best friend, first lover and hoped-for husband, Diego, son of the ranch foreman, who left the farm for Miami. Now the old man’s dead, Diego comes back for the funeral, and sparks he believed had died come alive again. There are some minor twists and turns before both realize they a) still love each other, b) have never ceased loving each other, and c) might love each other till the end of days if they give their couple a chance.
Yes, it’s another rendition of the scarcely original trope “ex-lovers-become-lovers-again” within a not-very-original cowboy setting. I have to admit that the only story set in the Wild West I ever liked was “Little House on the Prairie”—the books, mind you, not the exceedingly dull TV show. Apart from that, most Wild West- and cowboy-stories (namely Hollywood movies) always bored me to death. Too much dichotomy, too butch, too fake. Too little depth. Now, that’s what I’d reproach this book as well. It remains rather on the surface of things. What Wyatt himself recognizes quickly about himself (and repeats several times in the book), the author tried to do as well: “too much, too fast”. I couldn’t get a feeling for the two guys, I didn’t manage to get involved with them, with their past hurt, their current struggles, their love story. Even if I knew they had promised each other, as kids, they’d marry by 25, even if I knew they had been an inseparable item since then (friends, then lovers), even if I got the background information about how they broke up, their meeting again and going “Boom!” smelled strangely of unexplained insta-love (as a reminder, I’m not fond of all that insta-love going on in gay romance).
It’s hard to put into words what exactly didn’t work for me. The whole atmosphere felt off to me, strained. The setting, the difficulties of the farm, the idea of creating an event venue, all those details did nothing to me. I just couldn’t sense they were genuine. Sometimes, I thought the author didn’t really know how to continue, didn’t know where she wanted to take her MCs (and us, the readers). The storyline tottered on, but didn’t catch my attention, didn’t grip me. Even the steamy scenes had a pasted-on feel after a while. They didn’t make the wheel of the plot turn forwards, if you want; they were just an interruption of it, an interlude (somewhat longish in places). I do love some hot action, don’t get me wrong, but I didn’t care for them in this book, probably because I didn’t care for those involved, i.e. the MCs. Even the writing style was less solid, more strained, more wooden in this book than in #1, “Surprise Groom”. While I didn’t hate this book, I’m sorry to say I didn’t particularly like it either.
But hey, luckily we all have different tastes. This book was not to mine. But for those who like cowboys, boots, Stetsons, checkered button-down shirts, and good feelings, by all means, check it out.