ROZ DENNY FOX
Synopsis from Goodreads: Lizbeth Robbins has been following the rodeo circuit for the past six years, learning the farrier's trade, dragging her little girl from town to town. But now her daughter's in school and Lizbeth needs a more permanent job. She's relieved to find one at the Lone Spur, shoeing Gil Spencer's quarter horses; even if it was his foreman who hired her and the man himself doesn't want her anywhere near his ranch! Gil Spencer hates rodeos mainly because his ex wife loves them. While he was busy pulling his ranch out of the red, she was busy pursuing a career as a champion barrel racer. Worse yet the ex Mrs Spencer abandoned her husband and their twin sons for the dubious charms of some bronco rider. So the last person Gil wants on the Lone Spur is a former rodeo employee. Even if Lizbeth Robbins is the most attractive woman he's met in years. Especially then...
Stats for my copy: Mass market paperback, Harlequin Books, 1996.
First line: In the two weeks since Lizbeth Robbins had hired on as farrier at Gilman Spencer's ranch, she hadn't laid eyes on the man.
My thoughts: TROUBLE AT LONE SPUR reminded me of how much I love Roz Denny Fox. It's been awhile since I devoured a book in two days, staying up until midnight two nights in a row (and paying for it with a massive book hangover this morning, not to mention oversleeping and getting up an hour late).
Liz is a farrier who recently left the rodeo circuit in hopes of providing a more permanent, stable home for her six-year-old daughter, Melody. Getting hired on at the Lone Spur ranch as resident farrier is a dream come true. She still has nightmares about the bull who killed her husband before Melody was born, but they live in a cottage instead of a trailer, Melody has a cat, and she's a happy little girl.
Gil is the owner of the ranch, and when he comes back from a trip and finds out his ranch foreman has a woman shoeing his horses he has a fit and promptly fires her. He's sure that having a woman around the hands will distract them from their work, and ever since his wife left him to pursue her barrel racing career – and a bronc rider - he hates anything and everything to do with rodeos, so Lizbeth's background does not impress him.
I loved Liz. I loved Gil. They were both well rounded characters, each fighting their own inner demons, and trying to do the best they can for their kids. Gil has nine-year-old twin boys who run amuck when he's not around, playing pranks on Liz and creating havoc. Liz and Gil were constantly at odds with each other, while fighting their mutual attraction. One of the twins took to Liz, but the other waged an all out war against her, trying to keep her and his dad away from each other.
I learned more about horseshoeing than I ever thought I'd want to know, and more about the drama and work that goes into well rescues than I'd ever dreamed of, and I really appreciate the research Ms. Fox put into both subjects to bring realism to her story. The kids were also integral, and actual supporting characters rather than just plot moppets. There were some scenes that made me laugh, and the last quarter of the book got a bit tense and made me emotional. Not to mention the cute cover picture!
Romance done right.