Foolin’ by Allyson Young

Foolin’ by Allyson Young
Publisher: Evernight Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short story (147 pages)
Other: M/F
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

When Kathleen and Carter meet, it’s intrigue at first sight, and they awaken from emotional exile. A turn of events finds her spontaneously joining him on his working ranch. Despite being really hard work, she’s blissfully happy—and the fringe benefits aren’t too shabby either.

Carter can’t believe his luck. He desperately needed a housekeeper, not that he welcomed this amazing woman into his home for that reason. He can cope with her bond with her daughter, no matter how it forces him to remember his lost young son. And he can’t give her his heart, but what he can give is surely enough.
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In love with this amazing man, Kate ignores that Carter withholds, believing he’ll change, and she’s willing to wait. When she inadvertently discovers he was angling for a housekeeper all along, it knocks her blinders off.

She’s done waiting. She deserves more—and so does he.

Carter worked himself to the bone to keep his ranch afloat and surviving. He had a load of problems – but his biggest one was his inability to find a good housekeeper to cook, clean and keep his employees comfortable. Kathleen is in her forties and a sturdy, mature woman. When she and a colleague come to Carter’s town to oversee a charity auction and audit the bids Kathleen and Carter are both surprised by how well and easily they click together. What stars as a weekend of fooling around quickly turns into something far more deep and serious.

I really enjoyed this story. I found both Carter and Kathleen to be relatable and empathetic characters. Both are mature (in their forties) and long past that first blush of romantic love, and each have lived a rich and full life so far. With history and baggage, they’ve both made peace with who and where they are in their respective lives, and while Carter in particular knows it’s time he move on and open his heart again, they’re both not in a rush to make silly mistakes. I have to admit I loved how sensible both Carter and Kathleen are. I could really relate to them both and completely understood their feelings and actions. I was immediately drawn into the story because I wanted to read and enjoy every word – at no stage did I need to skip ahead a few sentences when one or the other of them said something silly or that made me want to roll my eyes.

With a bunch of interesting (and personally I often found them humorous) secondary characters even though this story really does mainly focus on Carter and Kathleen, it’s clear they’re not isolated or living too far in seclusion. There’s a feeling of community around them and the ranch-hands in particular make for a richer and more complex setting than just a man and a woman falling in love with each other on a working ranch. While the romance between Carter and Kathleen is explicit I was please, personally, that the sex didn’t over-power the story. It’s there, and certainly steamy enough to raise a few eyebrows I’m sure, but it was the day-to-day aspects between the couple that helped me see and believe in their love. This wasn’t some sexy fling of a weekend that somehow grew into more, I loved how the author showed this was two compatible people who met by chance and allowed themselves the opportunity to get to know each other – in all ways – and discovered a lovely, sweet and blossoming relationship.

In many ways this was my favourite style of story – with two interesting and completely relatable characters, progressed in their lives but still able to make changes and be excited about the future. The pace of the romance is slow enough for me to keep up with it and believe in the strength of it, but fast enough – and steamy enough – that I didn’t feel bored or like things were dragging. Best of all this is a story about love and romance and two people making each other happy, and I really loved it. I’d highly recommend this story and can’t wait to go back and read it all over again.

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