Over these past 3+ years that I've been writing this blog, I have come across a number of very talented romance writers in the Bay Area. I have given 3.5's to Joan Swan, Virna DePaul, Elisabeth Barrett, Marina Adair, and Jasmine Haynes. Let's add Jennifer Ryan to that list. Jennifer came to VHOB in late October as part of the Grand Opening week. She had just found out that she was a brand new New York Times bestselling author. Her book, Saved by the Rancher, book 1 in The Hunted series, has been sitting in my TBR (to be read) pile for over 3 months. I finally decided to read it (thanks to Rich telling me how much he liked it). Wow, am I glad I did. It was excellent. Let me start by giving you a quick rundown.
From the moment rancher Jack Turner rescues Jenna Caldwell Merrick, he is determined to help her. Soon, he is doing more than tend her wounds; he is mending her heart. Jenna is a woman on the run—hunted down by her ex-husband, David Merrick, from the day she left him, taking part of his company with her, to the second she finds herself in the safety of Jack's ranch. More than just a haven, Jack's offering the love, family, and home she thought were out of reach.
Jack's support will give Jenna the strength she needs to reclaim her life. The hunted will become the hunter, while David gets what he deserves, when they have an explosive confrontation in the boardroom of Merrick International. But not before Jack and Jenna enter into a fight … for their lives.
From a genre standpoint, I would say that Saved by the Rancher is romantic suspense. This happens to be my favorite kind of romance. You're obviously caught up in the guy-girl thing, and you certainly expect that they will end up together. But there's enough suspense that you're just not sure. In fact, on page 388 out of 438, I got nervous that this book might not end happy. I was not pleased.
What makes this book so much better than many others of its type is the emotional connection Jennifer creates with the ancillary characters. Of course I cared about Jenna and Jack (and David, the bad guy). But I loved Jack's niece, Lilly, and cared a lot about Lilly's parents (Jack's sister and brother-in-law). I had emotional moments that involved Jack's dog, Sally! I know, hard to believe (since I'm not exactly a dog guy).
There's also a moment late in the book where Jenna meets her lawyer for the 1st time (not really a spoiler alert). It was a very cool moment. It reminded me of the movie Die Hard, where Bruce Willis' character, John McClane, meets the police dispatcher, Sgt. Al Powell (played by Reginald VelJohnson) in person. Al kind of kept John going throughout the escapade with just his voice and his words of encouragement.
So, I liked the story, the characters, the suspense, and the romance. Can't ask for much more than that. Jennifer gets a solid 3.5 from me.