Read my review of the first book in the Wild Heart Ranch series, Sworn Enemy.
I appreciate that Fox includes a note at the beginning of this book explicitly stating that the origins of the relationship in this book are Not Okay. Bram and Nacho may be consenting adults who forged an instant emotional connection, but they still met in a position of extreme power imbalance. Because of Bram’s profession, this particular origin story is impossible to dismiss even now that they are reconnecting in completely different circumstances. This book isn’t necessarily a “taboo” romance, but Fox has crafted an excellent story that doesn’t attempt to justify the relationship but instead follows an arc in which the heroes prioritize their joint happiness despite the external complications.
Of course, the road toward that happiness isn’t a straight line, and that’s where the fantastic character development also comes in. Bram and Nacho have no desire to erase their origin story when it is intertwined with the connection that continues to draw them together. The resulting dynamic comes from a different angle than I’ve seen in other romances that involve power exchange, but it’s still as hot as it is weirdly romantic.
And as long as the romance element involves nontraditional connections, Fox dives further into the complications by further examining the intricacies of found family in this novel. This book is nominally stand-alone, but it incorporates familiar faces from THREE previous series set in this amazing shared universe. With so many characters enjoying their happily ever after, it makes sense that some relative newcomers might not enjoy the same immediate status. This story addresses the occasional downsides that can occur, both with immediate implications for the two heroes of this book and by teasing future stories that I’m already excited about.
While I’d enjoy reading about all of the aforementioned characters if everyone was just hanging out at the pool, Fox does make sure that her cameos have more of a purpose than fan service. The Wild Heart Ranch series may be set in the Texas countryside, but it includes more of the action-oriented elements previously seen in the Wrecked: Guardians and Mobsters + Billionaires series than the Rebel Sky Ranch series, in a way that results in our favorites doing plenty of what they do best. Nacho and Bram are functionally support-role characters to the external plot of this book, but this allows both their romance to shine brighter and Fox to set up plenty of threads that are sure to be fun future reads of their own.
Disclaimer: I received a digital review copy of this book from the author.