THE RANCHER'S REDEMPTION – Melinda Curtis
Return of the Blackwell Brothers – Book 3
Falcon Creek, Montana – The Present
Ben Blackwell is forced to leave his New York office and return to the Blackwell Family Ranch when his brothers tell him a legal challenge has been filed against their water rights. He didn't want to leave New York like he didn't want to be fired by his firm, but it happens. He left Montana five years ago when his fiancée Zoe left him at the altar to elope with his 72-year-old grandfather. His brothers knew but didn't say anything, which left Rachel, who was Zoe's best friend and the attorney he had just defeated in court on water rights case between their respective ranches, to tell him this in front of a church full of people waiting for the wedding to start. Now she is challenging him again, and he is in a place where he trusts no one. He also knows trying to please his grandfather led him to become a successful attorney, but in his opinion, a less than admirable lawyer. That has changed, but his previous trial case against Rachel haunts him. At the ranch he discovers his grandfather and Zoe had left the ranch without notice several weeks ago, and now his brothers are divided. Jon wants to sell the ranch. Ethan, Ben's twin, doesn't want to sell. Ben has a share of the ranch so has a vote in the decision, as do his two other brothers Tyler and Chance.
Rachel's first marriage ended in divorce but left her with her precious infant daughter Poppy. She needs a signed custody agreement from her reluctant-to-sign ex who has little interest in Poppy. Her family ranch, the Double T, needs a manager who knows what the job involves, and Rachel's law practice is barely making enough to claim a living wage, which is why she has started a suit against the Blackwell Family Ranch's water claim. The Double T needs that water. Her antagonism for Ben continues despite her memories of his kindness to her in high school and her growing attraction to the grownup man.
I've already read and reviewed the fifth novel in this series due out in December. That story made me request this novel. While by a different author (each of the stories in this series is by a different author), it is equally compelling. Ben is a complicated man, but the reader recognizes his integrity and thoughtfulness. He wants success… just not at any price. His dealing with Rachel, who is overwhelmed by her life's circumstances, would defeat many men, yet his jokes, quips, and kindness attract her. Still, the water problem and her knowledge that he will return to New York lie between them. And then Zoe returns.