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Once a Rancher

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The Carsons of Mustang Creek: three men who embody the West and define what it means to be a rancher, a cowboy and a hero in this brand-new series from the queen of Western romance. Slater Carson might be a businessman by trade, but he’s a cowboy at heart—and he knows the value of a hard day’s work under the hot Wyoming sun. So when he sees troubled teen Ryder heading down The Carsons of Mustang Creek: three men who embody the West and define what it means to be a rancher, a cowboy and a hero in this brand-new series from the queen of Western romance. Slater Carson might be a businessman by trade, but he’s a cowboy at heart—and he knows the value of a hard day’s work under the hot Wyoming sun. So when he sees troubled teen Ryder heading down a dangerous path, he offers the boy a job on the ranch he shares with his two younger brothers. And since Ryder’s temporary guardian is the gorgeous new resort manager, Grace Emery, Slater figures it can’t hurt to keep a closer eye on her as well… Grace Emery doesn’t have time for romance. Between settling in to her new job and caring for her ex-husband’s rebellious son, her attraction to larger-than-life Slater is a distraction she can’t afford. But when the past catches up to her in Mustang Creek, she’ll discover just how far Slater will go to protect what matters most—and that love is always worth fighting for.


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The Carsons of Mustang Creek: three men who embody the West and define what it means to be a rancher, a cowboy and a hero in this brand-new series from the queen of Western romance. Slater Carson might be a businessman by trade, but he’s a cowboy at heart—and he knows the value of a hard day’s work under the hot Wyoming sun. So when he sees troubled teen Ryder heading down The Carsons of Mustang Creek: three men who embody the West and define what it means to be a rancher, a cowboy and a hero in this brand-new series from the queen of Western romance. Slater Carson might be a businessman by trade, but he’s a cowboy at heart—and he knows the value of a hard day’s work under the hot Wyoming sun. So when he sees troubled teen Ryder heading down a dangerous path, he offers the boy a job on the ranch he shares with his two younger brothers. And since Ryder’s temporary guardian is the gorgeous new resort manager, Grace Emery, Slater figures it can’t hurt to keep a closer eye on her as well… Grace Emery doesn’t have time for romance. Between settling in to her new job and caring for her ex-husband’s rebellious son, her attraction to larger-than-life Slater is a distraction she can’t afford. But when the past catches up to her in Mustang Creek, she’ll discover just how far Slater will go to protect what matters most—and that love is always worth fighting for.

30 review for Once a Rancher

  1. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    Once a Rancher by Linda Lael Miller is a 2016 HQN Books publication. I love this author, but I am always incessantly behind with her series, so when I saw this one and noticed it was the first one in a new series, I didn’t hesitate. The ‘Carsons of Mustang Creek’ is centered around the Carson brothers on their Wyoming ranch. The oldest brother, Slater, is a historical documentary filmmaker, with a young daughter, named Daisy. He’s single, not really looking for love, but when he meets Grace, he f Once a Rancher by Linda Lael Miller is a 2016 HQN Books publication. I love this author, but I am always incessantly behind with her series, so when I saw this one and noticed it was the first one in a new series, I didn’t hesitate. The ‘Carsons of Mustang Creek’ is centered around the Carson brothers on their Wyoming ranch. The oldest brother, Slater, is a historical documentary filmmaker, with a young daughter, named Daisy. He’s single, not really looking for love, but when he meets Grace, he finds he is missing something in his life, and didn’t know it until now. Grace is a former cop, now in the hospitality business, and raising her teenage stepson, Ryder, despite being divorced from his father. After the failure of her first marriage, Grace is not looking to make a repeat mistake. But, Slater Carson has her considering a second chance at love. As with many ‘first in a series’ novels, I had a little trouble getting into the story at first. But, once all the characters were introduced, and the lay of the land was mapped out, the story picked up speed, which is a good thing, except it felt like we went from a slow trot to a full blown gallop, in nothing flat. I did enjoy this story, though, and should explain that although this is pretty much a standard contemporary western romance, it also has some romantic suspense elements mixed in, as well. When Grace catches an employee engaging in illegal activities, she must terminate him, but he's not leaving without a little payback, which awakens Slater's protective instincts. I couldn’t help but laugh as poor Grace was literally swept off her feet, caught up a true whirlwind romance. Slater is a cool guy, not a game player, is honest, straightforward, and stable. He showed Grace how a real man behaves, and proved he is a good father, and will be a positive influence on Ryder, who really needed a steady male presence in his life. Things do seem to happen very quickly between Slater and Grace, and although Grace fights against the inevitable, she runs out of steam pretty fast. It was so funny watching the Carsons help Slater wear her down, and put her fears to rest, too. I loved the tight knit family atmosphere in this one and the way they all work together, and support each other. I really liked Slater, who is strong, has a dominant personality, but is not a jerk!! He may move at warp speed, but he treats Grace with respect and understands the challenges she faces and her reluctance to move too quickly, even though he hates cooling his heels or having to step back and let her handle things her way, in her own time. By contrast, Grace is very special, especially towards Ryder. She doesn’t always like being nudged along by Slater or his family, but she grows to love them and accept them just the way they are, while still maintaining her strong independent personality. Slater and Grace have a different approach to life’s curveballs, but, they complimented each other nicely. Ryder’s story is sad, but he has found a nice landing spot, and is better off now than he ever could have thought possible, which really warmed my heart. I think the Carson family series has gotten off to a pretty good start and Miller’s fans will probably like this one. I’m looking forward to Drake’s story in the upcoming ‘Always a Cowboy.” Overall, this one gets 4 stars

  2. 5 out of 5

    Yodamom

    Slater Carson, cowboy film maker is about to meet his match in a whirl of red hair. Grace, is a wonderful woman who is raising and loving her ex's teenage son. Grace isn't looking for relationship complications she is looking for publicity for her resort place and Slater Carson just might be the one to get it for her. So begins a work ,to friendship, to more relationship. Their relationship is not instant, well Slater falls for her looks with his man parts but his heart slowly takes over. Grace, Slater Carson, cowboy film maker is about to meet his match in a whirl of red hair. Grace, is a wonderful woman who is raising and loving her ex's teenage son. Grace isn't looking for relationship complications she is looking for publicity for her resort place and Slater Carson just might be the one to get it for her. So begins a work ,to friendship, to more relationship. Their relationship is not instant, well Slater falls for her looks with his man parts but his heart slowly takes over. Grace, she is a tougher one to win over, she has had a bad relationship and is not willing to do that again, plus she has a 14 years old son to raise. Miller's characters are rich well developed and likable people with real world problems and fears. I'd love to sit and share a cup of coffee with any of them. I can't wait for more " Now, that's what I like to see. A big strong cowboy with a dish towel in his hand...."- that is real sexy.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Whitley Birks

    Got about halfway through, had to put it down out of boredom. While I rather like the Carson family (and DEFINITELY like the setting), there was no tension in this book. Everything that could have been tense, the book went out of its way to suck all the tension out of it. Mysterious danger in town? Eh, don't worry, just a minor bit of vandalism. Troubled teenager? Mm, not really, a few spots of acting out but no more than most 14 y/os, along with massive passages about he's "a good kid, really." Got about halfway through, had to put it down out of boredom. While I rather like the Carson family (and DEFINITELY like the setting), there was no tension in this book. Everything that could have been tense, the book went out of its way to suck all the tension out of it. Mysterious danger in town? Eh, don't worry, just a minor bit of vandalism. Troubled teenager? Mm, not really, a few spots of acting out but no more than most 14 y/os, along with massive passages about he's "a good kid, really." Main characters can't get together? Sure they can, they aren't even ACTING like they can't, they just keep claiming there's problems while merrily flirting along as if there are no problems. Sorry, can't do it. I need more conflict than that.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    Good start to the new series. Slater is the oldest of the three Carson sons, and the one known as "Showbiz" to his brothers. Besides being an honest-to-goodness cowboy, he is also a producer of well respected documentaries. He's just wrapped one up and is ready to start thinking about another one, when his evening is interrupted by Grace and her teenage stepson. Grace is a former Seattle cop who is now working as a resort manager. Ryder is her ex-husband's son who she is caring for while he is de Good start to the new series. Slater is the oldest of the three Carson sons, and the one known as "Showbiz" to his brothers. Besides being an honest-to-goodness cowboy, he is also a producer of well respected documentaries. He's just wrapped one up and is ready to start thinking about another one, when his evening is interrupted by Grace and her teenage stepson. Grace is a former Seattle cop who is now working as a resort manager. Ryder is her ex-husband's son who she is caring for while he is deployed. Ryder is a bit of a challenge right now, as he's not real happy about moving to the middle of nowhere. When she discovers that he has stolen a sign off one of the production company's trucks, she marches him to Slater's office to apologize. Sparks fly between Grace and Slater from the beginning. Slater definitely wants to pursue it, but Grace is a bit more wary. Her last relationship din't work out so well, and she isn't sure that she can trust her judgment. Slater is a force of nature, however, and won't be deterred from his pursuit. While she fights it at first, she gives in pretty fast. They do spend a fair amount of time getting to know each other. Slater is pretty forceful in his wants, but he's also sensitive to what she needs. I liked the times when she called him on his actions and he would, sometimes unwillingly, back off. Grace's independence often gets in the way of her willingness to accept his help, but eventually she learns that doing so doesn't make her weak. I really enjoyed the give and take between them as both learned the art of compromise. The ending was sweet, with a rather unusual wedding. Both Slater and Grace are single parents, and I enjoyed seeing how both handle it. Slater and his daughter's mother are good friends and have an excellent parenting relationship. You can tell that Slater and his daughter have a terrific relationship. I liked seeing him extend the same kind of relationship to Ryder. Grace's relationship with her ex isn't as good. She's pretty much disgusted with the way he has treated Ryder, putting his work way ahead of his family. It was great to see how she is there for Ryder, providing the stability he needs. She still struggles with him, and I enjoyed seeing how Slater stepped in and became a great role model. The help allows Grace to relax just a bit, and not be quite so tough on him. There's a bit of suspense in the story, as Grace deals with a disgruntled former employee. This man had been fired for stealing and doesn't take it well. He turns into a rather nasty stalker, committing various acts of vandalism before setting fire to her house. As a former cop, Grace doesn't panic over it, but turns it over to the local police. I liked seeing her try to rein in Slater, as his protectiveness comes to the surface. The resolution of the problem is well done. The secondary characters all add depth to the story. I loved Ryder, who was a pretty typical teen who is dealing with family upheaval, While he exhibits some bad attitude at times, he is a good kid. I liked seeing the effect that the entire Carson family had on him. Slater's younger brothers, Drake and Mace are also great. Each one has their strengths, which I'm sure we'll see more of in later books. I enjoyed the sibling rivalry among the three brothers. They could be snarky but the love and support underlies it all. Their mom, Blythe, was awesome. Though the guys all live at home, she is able to treat them as adults - except, of course, when they are acting like teenagers and she gives them "the look". I liked the way that she took Ryder under her wing. The brief appearance of Grace's ex, Hank, showed just why she divorced him and had the issues she did. I was disgusted with his disregard of Ryder and Grace's feelings. It was fun to see his reaction to Slater. There were also brief appearances by previous characters, such as the police chief, Hadleigh, Melody and Becca from the Brides of Bliss County series.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    ARC received for review Yummy cowboy and documentary maker meets resort manager. Slater doesn't take no for an answer but isn't a jerk about it. I don't know many people as amazing as Grace. She is taking care of her ex-husband's 14 year old son. Slater falls in insta-love with Grace but doesn't realize that's what it is. It takes Grace a little longer to fall. Plus there's a bad guy terrorizing Grace. Overall a great read and bonus there's two more brothers. ARC received for review Yummy cowboy and documentary maker meets resort manager. Slater doesn't take no for an answer but isn't a jerk about it. I don't know many people as amazing as Grace. She is taking care of her ex-husband's 14 year old son. Slater falls in insta-love with Grace but doesn't realize that's what it is. It takes Grace a little longer to fall. Plus there's a bad guy terrorizing Grace. Overall a great read and bonus there's two more brothers.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jonel

    She’s back! I’ll admit that Miller’s past few releases haven’t sparked my interest as much as her older work did, but with this one, I’m all on board again. She returns to her roots with a compelling plot and complex characters that I couldn’t get enough of. A sense of the world today is tempered by a timeless quality. This is definitely a novel that will go the distance. Picturesque scenery combined with a heart wrenching, captivating plot that drew me in without a second’s hesitation. I enjoyed She’s back! I’ll admit that Miller’s past few releases haven’t sparked my interest as much as her older work did, but with this one, I’m all on board again. She returns to her roots with a compelling plot and complex characters that I couldn’t get enough of. A sense of the world today is tempered by a timeless quality. This is definitely a novel that will go the distance. Picturesque scenery combined with a heart wrenching, captivating plot that drew me in without a second’s hesitation. I enjoyed how this novel ties into Mustang Creek & Bliss County. This town is really starting to grow on me. At the same time, this novel stands well on its own if you’ve never read any of those novels. Slater was a blast. The mix between tough & caring, rancher and film maker was so dynamic. I also enjoyed how Grace realises she’s trying to be too strong for her own good. Don’t get me wrong, she wasn’t a weak heroine by any means, but knowing that she needed help made her so much more real. And don’t even get me started on the rest of the Carsons. This was far and beyond a fun cast to spend time with. I will say, however, that I hope things get sorted out for Ryder in future novels. He really needs a sense of permanence somewhere. As a whole this was a great small town romance. I enjoyed the mix of concepts along with the well written dynamic of the novel as a whole. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to others. Please note that I received a complimentary copy of this work in exchange for an honest review.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Myst

    The heckling between the brothers always made me laugh especially when they started betting! The fact he has a daughter just makes him more human. Was not much of a long shot over the employee as I saw the aftershocks coming. Great book! Can not wait for the Horse Whisperer brother! This is a free review via Netgalley!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kathy

    Linda Lael Miller's newest series, The Carsons of Mustang Creek, is off to a very strong beginning with the first installment, Once a Rancher. Starring the three Carson brothers, this first release features oldest brother Slater's unexpected romance with newcomer Grace Emery. A documentary filmmaker, Slater uses the family's ranch as his home base in between projects. Having just returned from a grueling filming schedule, the last thing he wants to deal with is an unexpected visitor but his disma Linda Lael Miller's newest series, The Carsons of Mustang Creek, is off to a very strong beginning with the first installment, Once a Rancher. Starring the three Carson brothers, this first release features oldest brother Slater's unexpected romance with newcomer Grace Emery. A documentary filmmaker, Slater uses the family's ranch as his home base in between projects. Having just returned from a grueling filming schedule, the last thing he wants to deal with is an unexpected visitor but his dismay quickly turns to interest once he meets Grace and her stepson, Ryder. Fuming over Ryder's latest shenanigans, Grace is pleasantly surprised by how quickly Slater defuses the somewhat tense situation. Ryder easily picks up Slater's interest in Grace, but she has no interest in pursuing a relationship with the charming cowboy. As their paths continue to cross, they eventually give in to their passion, but will Slater be able to convince Grace to consider making their relationship permanent? Although he has a reputation as a player, Slater's interest in Grace is anything but casual. He is definitely attracted to the feisty redhead and he is quick to devise a plan to see her again. He is never overbearing or pushy, but he does gently nudge her into seeing him on a more personal basis. Slater also realizes that Ryder needs something to occupy his time so he stays out of trouble and with Grace's permission, he hires the teen to work at their ranch after school. Despite her attraction to Slater, Grace sees a few too many similarities between the sexy cowboy and her ex-husband Hank. She rushed into marriage only to realize that Hank's career was more important than family so she is not in any hurry to begin another relationship. She has her hands full trying to keep Ryder out of trouble but the more time she spends with Slater, the more irresistible he becomes. Grace is independent and more than capable of taking care of herself, but when a series of troubling incidents endangers both her and Ryder, she gratefully accepts Slater's help. The relationship between Grace and Slater is slow growing but their attraction soon gives way to love. While Slater is eager to take their romance to the next level, Grace is hesitant since she is afraid of getting hurt again. Slater is eager to move forward, but he is surprisingly patient as she tries to work through her reservations. Grace is sometimes a bundle of contradictions as she tries to maintain her independence while at the same time she is frustrated when Slater gives her the space she needs. Even though Grace and Slater are at a stalemate about their future, their relationship is remarkably free from conflict. Once a Rancher is a heartwarming and touching romance that has just a hint of suspense. The characters are beautifully developed, sympathetic and quite appealing. The story is fast-paced with an engaging and well-developed plot. Slater and Grace's relationship has a bit of an insta-love feel to it, but their emotions for one another ring true. Although The Carsons of Mustang Creek is a new series, longtime readers of Linda Lael Miller will enjoy returning to Mustang Creek. However, newcomers to the series need not worry; this first installment easily stands on its own.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Kathryn

    Once a Rancher starts off a new trilogy in Linda Lael Miller's setting of Biss County in Wyoming. It involves three Carson brothers of Mustang Creek. This one is all about Slater or as he is known to his two brothers - Showbiz. That's because he is involved in the movie industry. The Carson family is a delightful mix, with related and... unrelated characters. Red for instance, the ranch hand who each of the Carson boys really respect, and Harry the cook. Then there is Blythe their mother, a woman Once a Rancher starts off a new trilogy in Linda Lael Miller's setting of Biss County in Wyoming. It involves three Carson brothers of Mustang Creek. This one is all about Slater or as he is known to his two brothers - Showbiz. That's because he is involved in the movie industry. The Carson family is a delightful mix, with related and... unrelated characters. Red for instance, the ranch hand who each of the Carson boys really respect, and Harry the cook. Then there is Blythe their mother, a woman to be reckoned with. Along comes Grace and Slater certainly is slayed! Grace is a resourceful, independent woman and she sure is not looking for love and a man about the house! She is divorced and has responsibility for Ryder her stepson. Mix them all up together and you have a recipe for a very enjoyable romantic story. I really delighted in the return to this small community, where before the word is out of your mouth the whole town knows. However that is a small price to pay when they are also totally there with their care and support as well. I took time to just appreciate the romantic build up, the fun, genuine characters, the spice added by someone who is out to 'pay Grace back' in irresponsible ways, and the warmth of a story well told. It was a well paced, very entertaining story. Actually so looking forward to the other Carson stories. Love their sense of fun and good taste in hats!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Brandi

    This was okay. Not super good, but not super bad, either. The thing that was disappointing was that it started off great. I understood the characters' attraction, motivations, actions. The pacing was good - not too fast, not too slow. The main characters were interesting, secondary characters were funny, and the world realistic. And then somewhere around the halfway mark, it all came off the rails for me. Scenes started getting repetitive. Jokes started falling flat. I had no idea how much time wa This was okay. Not super good, but not super bad, either. The thing that was disappointing was that it started off great. I understood the characters' attraction, motivations, actions. The pacing was good - not too fast, not too slow. The main characters were interesting, secondary characters were funny, and the world realistic. And then somewhere around the halfway mark, it all came off the rails for me. Scenes started getting repetitive. Jokes started falling flat. I had no idea how much time was passing, which was disconcerting, especially since (view spoiler)[out of nowhere, there was a profession of love. These people just met! And they're already professing love? Come on. Then what felt like two days later (might have been more, might have been less, I honestly couldn't tell you), there was a frigging marriage proposal. And just like that, I was out. Done. Everything after that, which was a lot, actually, just felt fake and rushed and done for drama. Cue my utter disappointment. (hide spoiler)] I'd never read this author before, and I liked the writing. I did not like the plot developments or the fast pacing, both of which led to not a whole lot of character growth at the end. I was hoping to dig into Miller's other books, but after reading a few of those books' reviews, I'm thinking the rest of her books are exactly like this - rushed. So, unfortunately, as intriguing as the blurbs sound, I have to pass. 2.5 stars

  11. 4 out of 5

    Kari

    This is the beginning of a new series involving three brothers, but takes place in Mustang Creek like her last series with some of the other characters showing up. I thought it was a cute, yet fast romance. The marriage proposal came out REALLY fast and I couldn't blame Grace for being reluctant to say yes. I do have a challenge for Ms. Miller though. Can you write one story without using the word "proverbial"? Still it's worth a read and is a good introduction to the Carson family. I look forwa This is the beginning of a new series involving three brothers, but takes place in Mustang Creek like her last series with some of the other characters showing up. I thought it was a cute, yet fast romance. The marriage proposal came out REALLY fast and I couldn't blame Grace for being reluctant to say yes. I do have a challenge for Ms. Miller though. Can you write one story without using the word "proverbial"? Still it's worth a read and is a good introduction to the Carson family. I look forward to Drake's story next!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Aly

    What can be more delightful in a contemporary romance with cowboys than a series about a tight-knit but nosy family with three brothers affectionately meddling in each other's business? One is a filmmaker, the other is a rancher and the youngest take care of the vineyard that their mother started. Dead on his feet after the shooting of his newest documentary film, Slater Carson is none too pleased about the redhead who asked to talk to him, no matter how pretty she is. But that was before he sa What can be more delightful in a contemporary romance with cowboys than a series about a tight-knit but nosy family with three brothers affectionately meddling in each other's business? One is a filmmaker, the other is a rancher and the youngest take care of the vineyard that their mother started. Dead on his feet after the shooting of his newest documentary film, Slater Carson is none too pleased about the redhead who asked to talk to him, no matter how pretty she is. But that was before he saw her spirited attitude and felt in love at first sight. Former cop and now the new manager of a resort in Mustang Creek, Grace have, unofficially, the custody of her ex husband's fourteen years old son. When she discover he stole something, she drag him to confess his wrongdoing to the man he took it from. It's funny how the teen point to her after the meeting that Slater showed interest in Grace. But she noticed it too and she's not indifferent to his charm, but she's wary of his type: the alluring and confident men. But his self-assurance will serve him well in convincing her that he's the real deal. The heroine is not the only one with an unusual parental situation. A decade ago, when Slater's ex ended up pregnant not long after they broke up, he offered to marry her but she refused, knowing just like him that they wouldn't work as a couple and were better off as friends. So they stayed friend and share custody of their daughter. I really liked that there was absolutely no ambiguity there and it didn't cause problem between Grace and Slater. Slater doesn't beat around the bush and normally I would think he jumped the gun about his relationship with Grace, especially because of her hesitation, but I understand that it's just the guy he is. Once he realized he's in love with Grace, he wanted to start building a new life with her and there was no doubt for him Ryder was part of the deal. And even if he can't stop wanting to protect the heroine, he still respected her and believed she could take care of herself. Grace have a big heart, but she's a proud woman so I think in the end that's what convinced her to give him a chance. The threats Grace receive was not an elaborated plot, but that's not what I expect from this kind of romance so that didn't bother me. I really liked the relationship between Grace and Ryder. It was more like a big sister who raise her brother than a stepmother-stepson tie. You can guess the author love for animals in how she always add them to the stories. I already read book 3 so it's no surprise that I recommend this series if you're looking for a sweet romance in a small town setting.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Pam

    Once a Rancher: The Carsons of Mustang Creek is by Linda Lael Miller. This is the first of a trilogy set in Mustang Creek, Wyoming. It is a good book and the characters are realistic and the plot is definitely something that could easily happen. Grace Emery had come to Mustang Creek to run Bliss River Resort and Spa. She had given up being a police officer after getting her degree in hotel management. She thought she would do better in that field with her “son” Ryder. She had married Ryder’s fat Once a Rancher: The Carsons of Mustang Creek is by Linda Lael Miller. This is the first of a trilogy set in Mustang Creek, Wyoming. It is a good book and the characters are realistic and the plot is definitely something that could easily happen. Grace Emery had come to Mustang Creek to run Bliss River Resort and Spa. She had given up being a police officer after getting her degree in hotel management. She thought she would do better in that field with her “son” Ryder. She had married Ryder’s father, Hank who was in the military. Ryder’s Mother was completely out of the picture and Hank chose the military over his wife and son. So, Grace was raising Ryder even though now she was divorced from Hank. Ryder who was fourteen was starting to act out. When she caught him stealing a magnetic sign off Slater Carson’s production truck, she immediately took Ryder to Slater’s home and made him confess what he had done and return the sign. Grace was immediately attracted to Slater; but had no intention of doing anything about it. She had enough to worry about than men. Her luck with them wasn’t good. She would just run the Resort and take care of Ryder and not get involved. Slater Carson was a film producer. He produced documentaries and had just finished one so was back home in Mustang Creek. His family had a large ranch here in Mustang Creek and they were well known in the county. He was immediately attracted to Grace and wanted to talk to her more than Ryder. However, he gave his full attention to Ryder and his stealing. When Ryder started to get an attitude, he let Ryder know that an attitude was not acceptable. Although at the end of their conversation, Grace became cold; Slater knew that in this small community, they would run into each other again. The romance between Grace and Slater does not run smoothly. She is resistant, Hank comes back into the picture, and a disgruntled employee causes trouble. Can the romance stand the tests it comes up against?

  14. 5 out of 5

    Ellen Anderson

    Once a Rancher Great story with romance, humor and suspense. Linda Lael Miller writes the best western romance novels ever and this book just helps prove it. Slater and Grace are wonderful and luckily not overshadowed by the terrific secondary characters.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Malissa Oconnor

    The book was wonderful. Miller delivers every time i love her books

  16. 5 out of 5

    Crystal

    Once a Rancher is the first book in yet another terrific series by the very talented Linda Lael Miller. I can not wait to get my hands on the next book in The Carsons of Mustang Creek series. SLATER CARSON is one of those guys you just can't help but fall for from the beginning of the book. He's has a successful career in the film industry, he comes home to spend time with his family, his a great brother, a terrific son, a loving father, and he gets along well with the mother of his daughter. Wh Once a Rancher is the first book in yet another terrific series by the very talented Linda Lael Miller. I can not wait to get my hands on the next book in The Carsons of Mustang Creek series. SLATER CARSON is one of those guys you just can't help but fall for from the beginning of the book. He's has a successful career in the film industry, he comes home to spend time with his family, his a great brother, a terrific son, a loving father, and he gets along well with the mother of his daughter. What is there not to love? GRACE EMERY is one of the charters that I bonded with right away. She is an ex-police officer that is in need of a change of pace so she moves to Mustang Creek. She didn't count on moving her step-son, Ryder with her but is more than willing to take on the challenge. Things have been tough for Grace and her ex-husband is everything BUT a hands on father or husband. I admired Grace for not only loving her step son but for being the one parent in his life that is willing to stand by him, show him when he's doing wrong, and love him unconditionally. Slater and Grace meet under interesting circumstances but the attraction is certainly there for both of them right away. Watching these two get to know each other and fan those flames in the process was quite enjoyable. I loved the interaction with Slater's family and that Slater is happy to step up to the plate and be a positive influence for Ryder. Then there is the mystery and drama of things that keep going wrong for Grace. The danger and suspense kept me on the edge of my seat wondering how they were going to get to the bottom of the problems and what might happen next. I love how the people of Mustang Creek and the Carson family step up to help with the problem. I don't want to tell you too much because I sure would not want to spoil the story for you. Overall I really enjoyed Once A Rancher. The characters are well written the story line is intriguing and entertaining, and there are hot cowboys. What more could a girl ask for in a story? I will be anxiously awaiting the next book in this series, Always a Cowboy. I was given the opportunity to read this wonderful book so that I may share my thoughts with you. As always it has been my great pleasure to share my thoughts with you on Once a Rancher.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Books and Spoons

    Refreshingly original, entertaining family saga, or at least the first part of it. I honestly love this story, for many reasons, but any story that gets me to smile and laugh out loud, and tear up within the same page, has me so engaged with the tale and characters, that I have a hard time putting the book down, that story will get my vote. I love the Carson family. The extended Carson family. And Mrs A. I have a feeling we would have a lot in common. The brothers are just crazy, adorable, annoyin Refreshingly original, entertaining family saga, or at least the first part of it. I honestly love this story, for many reasons, but any story that gets me to smile and laugh out loud, and tear up within the same page, has me so engaged with the tale and characters, that I have a hard time putting the book down, that story will get my vote. I love the Carson family. The extended Carson family. And Mrs A. I have a feeling we would have a lot in common. The brothers are just crazy, adorable, annoying, and lovable, all at the same time. And Harry, I really want to spend a week in the kitchen with her. Slater and Grace have amazing chemistry sizzling between them. And there's no such thing as 'formula', when it comes to this romantic story, no way. They fall head over the heels for each other, even though they try to fight it, at least for a week. Everything happens SO fast, it is insta everything, but it is also genuine, real, and certain. They are just oozing out joy, happiness, protectiveness, love, caring and understanding each other. They talk about things, when they get a minute in their busy lives, they see each other's weaknesses and strengths, but celebrate them, instead of making them a problem. They get each other, and are perfect, for each other, not as a person. The family unit they make, is a unique, but tells more about them as people, than anything else, how they form a bond of acceptance in a heart, and make them family. There are interesting, intriguing details in the story, that paint the picture of the events, in the least fact. The history of the area, the respect of the past, is imbedded into the story in a clever way. Just like the clever parenting advice, and life lessons are. This is one of those stories that I wanted to savor, while relishing it down. I adore the characters, they are all people I would love to get to know and hang out with, so real, positive, and filled with enthusiasm. The tale had some amazing one liners in it, things that I wrote down, and want to think about, words that made an impact, in the midst of all the romance and family disarray. I really hope the next instalment comes out quickly, since I already miss the cast and crew! ~ Five Spoons

  18. 4 out of 5

    Tiffany

    Love Linda Lael Miller One of my favorite authors!! I love how Linda merges contemporary with the old west!! She has made me fall in love with cowboys!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Katherine P

    This is the first book by Linda Lael Miller I've read. I read a novella around Christmas time and enjoyed it but was looking forward to seeing what she could do with a full length novel. I enjoyed the characters in this one. I liked that Grace's background was in law enforcement which is unusual and gave her a certain awareness in an ongoing conflict throughout the book. I also loved her relationship with Ryder. As a stepmother myself I tend to cringe when a step relationship is portrayed in fict This is the first book by Linda Lael Miller I've read. I read a novella around Christmas time and enjoyed it but was looking forward to seeing what she could do with a full length novel. I enjoyed the characters in this one. I liked that Grace's background was in law enforcement which is unusual and gave her a certain awareness in an ongoing conflict throughout the book. I also loved her relationship with Ryder. As a stepmother myself I tend to cringe when a step relationship is portrayed in fiction. I felt like Miller not only portrayed the stepmother role realistically even though the situation is highly unusual but also pretty accurately portrayed a teenage boy. I loved the Carson family! The interaction between Slater and his brothers was so funny and I loved all the betting that went on within the family. I enjoyed watching the relationship between Grace and Slater develop. Slater is definitely Alpha but he is thinking about how she would feel and what she want. The fact that he is so aware and considerate balances his tendency to take over situations. The timeline seemed very short - especially for a contemporary - and that threw me a little bit. There was also one incident that happened towards the end that felt a little premature. I think because of the short line with everything that was happening on the book I never fully connected with Grace or Slater. I liked them and was rooting for their HEA but they didn't leap off at the page at me. This was a really enjoyable read and I liked watching the relationship develop and getting the behind the scenes of their work. Slater's work with documentaries was especially interesting and I would have liked to see more of it. I really loved the setup for the rest of the trilogy and can't wait to see more of the Carsons! Full Review: http://iwishilivedinalibrary.blogspot...

  20. 4 out of 5

    Guilty Pleasures Book Reviews

    Shadow's review posted at Guilty Pleasures Book Reviews 3.5 stars Once a Rancher is a feel-good contemporary romance, set in the modern west. However, in spite of the title, the main male character, Slater Carson isn't a rancher; he's a filmmaker who grew up on a ranch and still lives there. One night between films, he finds himself facing an irate beauty and a sheepish teenage boy. Grace Emery has a full time job, a home to care for and a step son left behind by his father even though she and the Shadow's review posted at Guilty Pleasures Book Reviews 3.5 stars Once a Rancher is a feel-good contemporary romance, set in the modern west. However, in spite of the title, the main male character, Slater Carson isn't a rancher; he's a filmmaker who grew up on a ranch and still lives there. One night between films, he finds himself facing an irate beauty and a sheepish teenage boy. Grace Emery has a full time job, a home to care for and a step son left behind by his father even though she and the father are divorced. Josh is what brings Grace and Slater together when he steals a sign from one of Slater's trucks and his stepmother forces him to return it and apologize. As upset as she is with Josh, Grace still has time to feel the sizzle when she and Slater connect-she just doesn't have time to follow through on it. Slater, however, can act on that sizzle and starts by helping Grace, not just with Josh, but on her job. Predictably, the two begin a romance, but someone is out to terrify Grace... and her ex-husband returns to visit with his son. Can Slater and Grace make it past all their obstacles and find forever together? One of the oddest things about this book is the lack of explicit sex scenes. We have the equivalent of curtains waving in the breeze. Given the fact that Linda Lael Miller was one of the first to include very explicit scenes in her books, it is unusual that this book has none. As a result I found this story was okay, but not one that is memorable in any way. If sweet romances with a bit of mystery thrown in are to your taste, this is a book you will want to read. Review copy provided for an honest review.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Didi

    A feel good contemporary story that hit just right when I need uncomplicated read. The male character and his nearest dearest people (male/female alike) were predictably a lovely close-knit bunch, you'd want to be adopted smack into the midst. ^_^ The female was a tough ex cop turned resort and spa manager who took responsible of his ex's teenage son while said ex was deployed... somewhere. A pair of *perfect* couple. I might not like how the cast handling the stalker's issue (way too laid back A feel good contemporary story that hit just right when I need uncomplicated read. The male character and his nearest dearest people (male/female alike) were predictably a lovely close-knit bunch, you'd want to be adopted smack into the midst. ^_^ The female was a tough ex cop turned resort and spa manager who took responsible of his ex's teenage son while said ex was deployed... somewhere. A pair of *perfect* couple. I might not like how the cast handling the stalker's issue (way too laid back to my liking) or really not impressed over Slater's moves on the romance department (I'd give you a C minus, sir). On the other hand, I applauded Grace making him wait, a bit. All in all, not bad (but of course, this is Linda Lael Miller. I would not expect bad of her works! ;-)

  22. 5 out of 5

    Misty

    2.5 STARS....I wasn't impressed with the so called kind of insta-love going on in the book. I also wasn't impressed with Grace. There was an editing issue that annoyed me with Slater's daughter's age that should have been caught. Call me picky!!! I enjoyed Ryder and Slater's brothers though. The whole stalking/harassing that was going on with Grace and a fired employee felt like it was thrown in to make the book longer. Also, the ending of that issue was kind of quick and abrupt. Meh, but I migh 2.5 STARS....I wasn't impressed with the so called kind of insta-love going on in the book. I also wasn't impressed with Grace. There was an editing issue that annoyed me with Slater's daughter's age that should have been caught. Call me picky!!! I enjoyed Ryder and Slater's brothers though. The whole stalking/harassing that was going on with Grace and a fired employee felt like it was thrown in to make the book longer. Also, the ending of that issue was kind of quick and abrupt. Meh, but I might check out the next book because I enjoyed Drake.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jo (Mixed Book Bag)

    Once a Rancher by Linda Lael Miller – A new series with a great cast of characters. The Carson brothers are ripe for a romance. While very close they are also very different. This is Slater Carson’s story and it has a wonderful romance and a great HEA. Like many Harlequin series the books will stand alone but if you get started here you will not miss any of the things that happen to each of the brothers.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Season

    Really good start to a series. I thought some of things were a little far fetched. How quickly everything happened for one, but overall it really flowed well. I liked the location, an Inn and ranch, very interesting!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Romancing the Book

    Reviewed by JoAnne Book provided by NetGalley Quintessentially Linda Lael Miller with ranching, families, alpha males and beautiful women and their interrelationships at its core.  I didn't realize these were connected stories with her Brides of Bliss County series but it was a nice surprise to see some of the characters we've met before and grown to love appear in Mustang Creek.  I look forward to reading many more stories in this series and others she writes since she's one of my favorite wester Reviewed by JoAnne Book provided by NetGalley Quintessentially Linda Lael Miller with ranching, families, alpha males and beautiful women and their interrelationships at its core.  I didn't realize these were connected stories with her Brides of Bliss County series but it was a nice surprise to see some of the characters we've met before and grown to love appear in Mustang Creek.  I look forward to reading many more stories in this series and others she writes since she's one of my favorite western authors! There was instant chemistry between Slater and Grace and even her fourteen year old stepson, Ryder, noticed.  They fought their attraction as much as they could but they kept being drawn to each other.  She had been married and divorced and now was taking care of her stepson since his dad was in the military and once again deployed.  Hank could never be counted on since he always got restless waiting for his next assignment.  She planned on never marrying again.  Slater never saw himself settling down since he did a lot of traveling for his business and no woman had ever made him want to commit to marriage even his ex-girlfriend who is the mother of his child.  They get along better as friends and both realized it was better to stay that way and be in each others lives as friends for their daughter's sake.   I loved  that Grace and Slater always had their children's best interests at heart and how easily Ryder was given the male attention he needed from the Carsons as well as Red, the ranch hand.  When Hank entered the picture he quickly realized he wasn't in it and wasn't too happy about it.  Slater and Grace had a quirky relationship, neither acting how they normally would, but their attraction always shined through whether they wanted it to or not. The Carsons - mom, Slater and brothers Drake and Mace as well as Slater's daughter and their ranch hands and housekeeper were all front and center along with Grace, Ryder and those that she worked with.  The relationship between the three brothers and their mom and cook was unique and different.  There were always bets going on about one thing or another and everyone seemed to get in on the action!  There were family, friends, children, the ranch, horses and other animals, the vineyard, the spa and hotel, small town life, happiness, sadness, fear, anger, exes, tears, laughter, love, burn up the sheet moments and lots of loving.  The descriptions of the mountains, the ranch and other locations along with the animals were vivid and made me feel that I was there. The mystery surrounding the crime spree didn't hold my interest since so much of it was too obvious but it kept throwing Slater and Grace together.   There wasn't the depth to the characters that I've come to expect from Miller especially in some of her older series.  There was a happily ever after that was different and was unexpected but felt right.  There was nice closure and I look forward to reading the other books in this series and see if there are the feelings that her McKettrick series and others brought out.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Marlene

    Originally published at Reading Reality After reviewing a couple of books that dove deeply into some dark history, it was fun to read a fairly light contemporary love story. Especially one from Linda Lael Miller, because her characters are always so engaging. As they certainly are in Once a Rancher, the first book in her new Carsons of Mustang Creek series. We’ve spent time in Mustang Creek before. Her Brides of Bliss County series is set in the place, and both the brides and the grooms of the Bli Originally published at Reading Reality After reviewing a couple of books that dove deeply into some dark history, it was fun to read a fairly light contemporary love story. Especially one from Linda Lael Miller, because her characters are always so engaging. As they certainly are in Once a Rancher, the first book in her new Carsons of Mustang Creek series. We’ve spent time in Mustang Creek before. Her Brides of Bliss County series is set in the place, and both the brides and the grooms of the Bliss County series make cameo appearances in Once a Rancher, and hopefully the rest of the series. It is always great to find out what happens after the happy ever after, especially when it’s still happy. This series looks like a trilogy, as each story will feature one of the Carson sons of the Carson’s combination ranch and winery, and there are only three of them, and no daughters. They are all grown up now, and each of them has found very much their own way. Mace Carson, the youngest, runs the winery. It’s his brainchild and at the moment the only love of his life. Drake Carson, the middle son, runs the ranch. It looks like Drake’s story is in book 2 in the series, Always a Cowboy. But Once a Rancher is the story of Slater Carson, the oldest of the three, and now somewhere in his mid-30s. As the title says, Slater once was a rancher, but now he’s a successful producer of popular documentary films. (Think of Ken Burns’ career attached to a much younger cowboy, and that’s probably about right) Just as Slater wraps up his latest project, Grace Emery barges into his life. She’s hauled her stepson out to invade his office because the boy swiped something cool from the production site. Young Ryder is there to apologize and accept whatever punishment gets meted out. Slater finds himself completely gobsmacked by the tall, beautiful redhead who used to be a cop. And it seems to be vice-versa. Right after Grace’s life collides with Slater’s, another event occurs that tries to throw her well-planned life into chaos. Grace, the manager of the local retreat and spa, fires an employee who has been caught stealing from the resort. Instead of taking his dismissal with even a modicum of, well, grace, the man starts spouting curses and threats. As the story progresses, Grace finds herself the target of an escalating series of incidents, from damaging her car to setting fire to her house. But as an ex-cop, Grace is used to taking care of her own business. She lets the police, in the person of Spence Hogan, local police chief and hero of The Marriage Charm, do his job. She doesn’t let Slater, who has become increasingly involved in her life, take revenge or go all protective Neanderthal for her. Instead, in spite of the air of increasing menace, Slater and Grace become more involved with each other. That there are complications, like the intrusive inquisitiveness of Slater’s family, and Grace’s not-so-temporary custody of her teenage stepson, just make the times that they are able to spend together all that much sweeter. And hotter. Neither of them was planning on a long-term relationship. They were both actually planning not to have one, not just because of those complications but because Slater spends as much time away from Mustang Creek making films as he does at home helping with the ranch. They really don’t have time for a relationship. But the heart wants what it wants. Whether the human it’s attached to is ready or not. Escape Rating B+: A big part of the strength of this story is in its family relationships. The posturing, teasing, joking and even betting that goes on between the three Carson brothers and their long-suffering mother is often funny, and always heartwarming. This family may bet on every single aspect of Slater’s relationship with Grace, but they all obviously love each other and pull together fast in a crisis. Although there is a shared tragedy in the past, the boys’ father died when they were young, this is a very, very functional family, and it is great to see a hero who comes from a solid background. (Fixing bad boys is interesting, but they generally don’t make good husbands or provide a solid footing on which to build a relationship.) There are also children in this mix who add to both the complications and to the joy. Slater has a 9 year old daughter from an early relationship. He is a responsible co-parent, without having ever married the girl’s mother. Instead, they are good friends and it all works for everyone, especially including the little girl. Grace also has parental responsibilities, but they are much more troubled and much less stable. Grace’s ex could easily be the hero of a military romance, but he is so focused on his military career that everyone else in his life comes, not second, but more like 9th or 10th. Grace divorced him because he wasn’t there, either physically or emotionally. It was not a partnership, instead, she was a convenience for him. And that’s no life for anyone. But part of that convenience was being a parental figure for his son Ryder, and when they divorced, Grace was forced to leave Ryder with his grandparents. When those grandparents had a health crisis, Ryder bounced back to Grace, but she has no legal authority over the 14-year-old. He just has nowhere else to go and he knows it. Ryder feels abandoned, only because he is. While Grace loves the boy and is trying her best, she’s in over her head. Slater and the Carson family give Ryder more of the stability he needs, and also a job and purpose. That’s a match made in heaven. The Carsons are happy to have one more boy around, and Ryder needs to be part of a family. The part of this story I liked the best was the way that the threat to Grace was handled. In so many romances, when the heroine is placed in jeopardy the hero swoops in to save her, whether she wants to be saved or not. In this story, Grace rescues herself. Not because she personally takes down the bad guy, but because she follows procedure and lets the police handle it the way it should be handled. All the agency is hers. When she needs Slater, he comes when she calls, she lets herself lean on him for a few minutes, and then SHE does the necessary. He never takes over for her, no matter how obvious it is that he wants to. It’s her problem, and her responsibility. Neither does she go off half-cocked making things worse, so that eventually she HAS to be rescued. As a reader, I liked Grace a lot, and I especially liked her attitude about this situation. She does flail a bit about the relationship they’ve fallen into in spite of themselves, but she never lets him take care of her business. Good on her. It was terrific seeing all those “Brides” of Bliss County swoop in to help plan the wedding. And great to discover that everyone is still well and happy. I can’t wait to hear more about everyone, and see what happens to Drake in Always a Cowboy.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    A relatively good book and honestly rates more like a 3.5 star but it was totally worth applying to a 4. I'm pretty sure that as I progress in the series I will like it better. I had a hard time reading this one. I have a feeling that I will like the other brothers a little bit better. I found that Grace's position as a stepparent that basically has custody of her step child and is divorced from his father an interesting twist that I don't think I've ever seen before. Or at least not as well don A relatively good book and honestly rates more like a 3.5 star but it was totally worth applying to a 4. I'm pretty sure that as I progress in the series I will like it better. I had a hard time reading this one. I have a feeling that I will like the other brothers a little bit better. I found that Grace's position as a stepparent that basically has custody of her step child and is divorced from his father an interesting twist that I don't think I've ever seen before. Or at least not as well done. I'm rather hoping books in the series that focus on the other brothers have a little more depth to them. I'm not a huge fan of this love at first sight deal but I understand that it's a romantic fuck and that's what most people would want. But the story was well written and I like the authors style.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Brynna

    I thought this was super cute and an easy read. I appreciated that sex scenes weren't super graphic. However, I feel like their relationship moved super fast! He knew her for like a week and then proposed! I loved seeing Ryder's relationship develop with the Carsens and see his character development, however I wish there was more of it. It was kind of glossed over. The end wrapped up rather quickly. I wouldn't have minded if it was a little more drawn out. They caught the bad guy super quick wit I thought this was super cute and an easy read. I appreciated that sex scenes weren't super graphic. However, I feel like their relationship moved super fast! He knew her for like a week and then proposed! I loved seeing Ryder's relationship develop with the Carsens and see his character development, however I wish there was more of it. It was kind of glossed over. The end wrapped up rather quickly. I wouldn't have minded if it was a little more drawn out. They caught the bad guy super quick without a large final showdown which was a bit of a letdown. Usually I don't like an overly dramatic ending but this had the hint of the drama by Ryder going missing an then the condo catching fire but then it just petered out and was unsatisfying. I will still probably read the other two books in the series because I am excited for them all to find their perfect match.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Helen Nichole

    I really tried with this book. By page 200 I was ready to be done with it all together however, I continued reading because I figured there had to be SOMETHING that would redeem the lackluster characters and story line. The teaser on the back of the book brags, "But when an unexpected threat emerges, she'll discover just how far Slater will go to protect what matters most...". 290 pages of poorly written dialogue and a storyline that wasn't a western, wasn't a thriller, and wasn't a romance late I really tried with this book. By page 200 I was ready to be done with it all together however, I continued reading because I figured there had to be SOMETHING that would redeem the lackluster characters and story line. The teaser on the back of the book brags, "But when an unexpected threat emerges, she'll discover just how far Slater will go to protect what matters most...". 290 pages of poorly written dialogue and a storyline that wasn't a western, wasn't a thriller, and wasn't a romance later I finally got to what I think was meant to be the "unexpected threat"/ the climax of the book. The book itself was 298 pages... Don't waste your time with this one.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Pamela Devereux

    Second time Slater Carson was bone tired but the minute Grace Emery walked in the room, he came alive. It was love at first sight for Slater. Grace was married and was never doing that again. Ryder, her step-son, was collateral damage from that marriage. Grace stepped up to the plate. She was firm when dealing with him. It was the Carson boys who stepped up to the plate. Ryder was finding his place in the world and Grace was falling in love. What a wedding. I can't wait to read the next book in t Second time Slater Carson was bone tired but the minute Grace Emery walked in the room, he came alive. It was love at first sight for Slater. Grace was married and was never doing that again. Ryder, her step-son, was collateral damage from that marriage. Grace stepped up to the plate. She was firm when dealing with him. It was the Carson boys who stepped up to the plate. Ryder was finding his place in the world and Grace was falling in love. What a wedding. I can't wait to read the next book in this series.

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