Series: Marshall Brothers #3
Published by Self Published Genres: Action, Contemporary
I received this book for free from Author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
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She’s sold her soul to the devil for the last time…
When an unexpected inheritance comes her way, high-powered defense attorney, Layla Evans, gives up everything she's known and seizes the opportunity to start over. The mountain ranch is the perfect escape from a life she can no longer stand. In the solitude of her mountain escape, she can wrestle her demons and never hurt anyone with her job again.
She never counted on her past following her there.
Ben Marshall knows a thing or two about running away…
After a decorated military career ended in the worst way possible, Ben leaves his Special Forces unit and seeks sanctuary high in the Blue Ridge Mountains. He needs the solitude. It's enough, until a beautiful brunette, who has no business running a ranch, literally falls into his life. When Layla’s past catches up to her, Ben's old instincts kick in. His need to keep Layla safe becomes stronger than his desire to protect himself from her.
Can he protect Layla without risking his battered heart or will love truly conquer all?
I would have been generous for a first time author, but for an author with more than 30 published novels, the writing was awful.
Layla Evans is an experienced criminal defense attorney, but not even she expected that she would keep a child rapist out of a prison. The work she has been doing has made her hate herself, but this last case was a stain on her soul. When the father she never met dies and leaves her his ranch, she takes it as a sign to walk away from the hell her life has become and to move on to a better future. Her nearest neighbor is a man also hiding from the world. Ben Marshall was left severely scarred after serving his country. His fiancé abandoned him but whether because of the scars on the outside or the ones he created himself on the inside. His new neighbor is a city girl and too clueless to be running a ranch. But when things start happening around her ranch, things which go from teenage mischief to a dangerous threat, the hero in Ben can’t walk away. Layla doesn’t want his help but maybe Ben can save her from herself…or maybe it is she who will save him from himself.
I was offered a review copy on this book and I thought the story had potential. I only finished about 35 percent of the book before I completely gave up. The writing is horrible. I thought maybe this is a new author but as this is Book 3 of the series, she couldn’t be that new. I was shocked to see that she has 30 other published novel. 30! These characters had no depth. The conversations were asinine. We meet Layla coming out of the courthouse after successfully defending a man she is certain is guilty of heinous crimes against little girls. She is shocked and horrified that she won. She then receives a letter about receiving her father’s estate and was going to sell the ranch and start a new life. Next thing, she is working the ranch, after watching a bunch of youtube videos on how to run a ranch. Maybe it would have been better to hire a foreman to run the ranch and teach her the basics? While she is “riding the fences,” her horse is spooked by her neighbor and she is thrown off the horse, which runs away. Ben runs over to make sure she isn’t hurt. As he feels bad, he offers to take her home on his horse. She yells at him. He calls her an idiot and walks away, rescinding his offer to take her home. Ben feels bad again and goes back for Layla, and they bicker. This isn’t just my summary. This is how jerky this story is. Layla is flustered because he calls her an idiot. Maybe it is because she is stunned by falling off a horse, but she was a criminal defense attorney! How can she have been a successful criminal defense attorney and not know how to think on her feet or roll with simple name calling? Plus, he is worried about her falling off her horse and having a serious injury and he goes off in a huff and tells her walk home without even waiting to see if she can walk.
Some of the scenes I understand what the author was trying to get at but how it was achieved never made sense. Such as, Ben is awoken by pounding on his door, he hears a frantic Layla and rushes without putting on a shirt to the door. Layla is hysterical because something has happened to her cows. They have been vandalized (vandalized?). Ben says why didn’t you call the police. Layla goes, Oh, yeah. I should go home and call the police. They are barely even friends. Each of their ranches are several acres so it isn’t like they are next door neighbors. So why would she drive over to a near stranger’s ranch for help because someone painted her cows (yes, painted her cows). The point of this scene is that Ben didn’t have a shirt on to cover his many battle scars and Layla didn’t care about them. The scene was stupid and made no sense. I expected from her hysteria that the animals had been slaughtered. The author was rushing the characters into a romance way before anyone was ready for that.
I was a third of the way through this book and all the scenes were like this one. Again, Layla calls the police and while she and Ben are waiting, they are suddenly kissing. Sudden kissing? Nope, too soon. The police officer shows up. He has never met either Layla or Ben before. He doesn’t know if they are married or together but he makes an inappropriate comment about them. When Layla gets angry at him for being unprofessional, he is suddenly threatening her with arrest. Arrest? WTF? What backwoods justice is this? Again, I am not really summarizing. This is how jerky the story and dialog goes.
The book is only 288 pages but that should have been more than enough to build up basic characters and establish a simple storyline. Why not make Ben the foreman on the ranch she takes over and they would have been forced together? A simple change in the character dynamics could have made their awkward working relationship more believable. And I have published 0 books! I could have been more generous with this review for a first time author, hoping that experience and a good editor would help with develop better characters but with more than 30 stories listed under Goodreads for this author, this story should not be so horrifically written.