Charlie Ryan is a city girl through and through. Raised in New York City, she’s used to life moving fast and easy access to the finer things. But when she catches her fiance with his secretary, starting over sounds like a great plan. And the timing couldn’t be better, since she’s just inherited a ranch in Montana from a grandmother she never knew.
But... There’s not really anything about the story I didn’t like, but there were some periods of time that were glossed over, and in skipping past so much day-to-day life, I felt like I missed out on a few things. Take Cherry, for example. She seems cool enough, and it’s clear she would make an awesome friend, but after a run-in or two, we’re told that she and Charlie have shared enough chips and margaritas over the summer to become close. I understand the need to get on with the story, but that’s one bit I think should have been shown instead of told. As much as I liked her character, I didn’t feel like I got to know Cherry well enough to instantly get her suddenly solid friendship with Charlie.
The Verdict: Tucked Away starts out with a hilarious bang — an ornery bull attacking the car in which he’s trapped city girl Charlie. She’s hot and tired and ready to check out her new home, but she’s stuck biding her time until a hot cowboy comes to the rescue. That bit of levity set the tone, and while there were definitely some serious moments, this book was loads of fun.
Charlie is definitely a fish out of water when it comes to ranching and small town life, but she’s not averse to giving it all a shot. Screwed over by a philandering fiance, she’s ready for some big changes. Of course, she doesn’t quite know what she’s in for, but the little country house quickly feels like home, and she finds the slower pace and simpler lifestyle more to her liking than she would have expected. Fortunately, the ranch comes complete with ranch hands, so she’s not completely on her own in figuring everything out, and it doesn’t hurt that the local veterinarian is pretty easy on the eyes. In no time, Charlie’s made some new friends — the guys that work the ranch, sexy vet Zack, the owner of the local diner, and the sweetest thirteen-year-old country girl you’ve ever seen.
Zack’s been burned before, and while he’s no saint, his heart has been locked up tight since the day his ex-wife abandoned him and their baby girl. He’s spent the years putting his daughter first and taking care of the town’s many animals. He’s intrigued by and attracted to Charlie, but he knows better than to get wrapped up in a woman who won’t be satisfied outside the neon lights of the city, and he’s practically counting down the days until she gives up and takes off.
In most books that center around someone diving headfirst into an unfamiliar lifestyle, there’s something about the character that never quite sits right with me, but not so with Charlie. Despite everything she’d recently been through, her seemingly unfeeling mother, and having no clue who her father was, she took on every new challenge with determination and hope — and she didn’t have to morph into a whole new person to achieve it. In spite of (or perhaps because of) her own abandonment issues, she didn’t hesitate to open her arms to Sophie, the young teenage girl who was desperate for some female company, and while her inexperience showed, her heart was too good not to see a little of herself in Sophie’s loneliness.
Zack’s initial dismissal of Charlie as someone who would turn tail and run from the often dirty realities of ranching quickly had me judging him — a bit too quickly as it turns out. He knew she was out of her element and couldn’t imagine her sticking around in the long run, but he also didn’t deny or try to brush off her little victories. It felt like, for all his wanting to guard his heart, he was inadvertently opening it more to her as each day progressed. In the end, it was clear that Zack was an awesome blend of romantic and rustic, and if his inherent goodness hadn’t won me over, his love for her daughter certainly would have.
What really did it for me, though, was the somewhat silly (but altogether realistic) approach to country living. From picking out hot pink cowboy boots to naming a newly born calf Rodney, Charlie totally made sense to me. And that’s pretty big, considering I’m more comfortable in a pole barn than a shopping mall. I honestly expected her to take longer to win me over or to annoy me for a little while in how she viewed things. But the way she embraced every new experience on the ranch, her sense of adventure and her genuinely accepting personality… How could I not love her?
But while Tucked Away is most certainly a romance, it’s also very much about family and healing the past. As I mentioned, Charlie’s mom is a far cry from sympathetic and understanding, and there’s a divide between them that needs mending. Charlie’s lack of any knowledge of her father is a big challenge for her as well, not to mention the previously unknown grandmother who left her the ranch in the first place. Building a new life for herself is only one part of the entertaining puzzle that Tucked Away serves up, with plenty of room left for Charlie’s learning more about who she is and where she came from while Zack works at letting himself fall in love again.
I could probably go on and on about this book — it’s certainly one of the more interesting and developed stories I’ve read — but I’m sure it’ll be much more fun if you just read it yourself. Tucked Away is genuine country romance at its best, with complex and loveable characters, some mystery and drama, and lots of laughs, and I have no doubt the rest of this series is going on my must preorder! list.
***FicCentral received this book from The Romance Reviews for free in exchange for an honest review.