Like most fans of the Wrangler’s Creek series, I’ve been more than anxious for Lucian’s story. There’s just something about the Granger family that appeals to my heart. They’re a family I can’t help but love and laugh at while being thankful they aren’t mine. I can’t help but break out in a grin before I open a Delores Fossen book, knowing I’m in for a heck of a fun time. She has such a talent for peppering a moving love story with humor and heart. And The Last Rodeo is about as perfectly hilarious and heartwarming as a book can get.
Lucian Granger was the big brother and boss of Granger Enterprises. He’d taken over the ranch and company at the age of 18. His father, before running out on his family, had nearly run the ranch into the ground. But Lucian had made the company the success it was now. His no nonsense approach to business may have gotten him the name Lucifer from the people of Wrangler’s Creek, but if that’s what it took to succeed, so be it. Because anything other than success was a sign of weakness.
Karlee O’Malley was Lucian’s assistant and girl Friday. She handled everything, thinking of what Lucian needed even before he did. She’d worked for Lucian for 10 years but she’d been hung up on him since she was a kid. He’d only seen her as his assistant but he’d been much more to her. She’d managed to corral her attraction for years but now she knew it was time to move on. Being around Lucian day in and day out wasn’t helping her get over her feelings. It was time to venture out with her own business.
But both Lucian’s and Karlee’s plans get put on hold when Lucian’s demanding ways get the town in an uproar. And Jerry, Lucian’s father, shows up wanting to step back in as CEO of Granger Enterprises. With the town holding a small percentage of shares in the company, Lucian needs all the support he can get to keep his father from destroying the company Lucian devoted his life to. And mom Regina has the perfect plan to change Lucian’s image with the townsfolk of Wrangler’s Creek. Get engaged to Karlee. Then everyone would no longer see him as Lucifer, but as a soon to be family man. Short of locking up his dad and throwing away the key, Lucian and Karlee don’t have any other ideas. They could play the lovebirds for a few months and call off the engagement when things returned to normal. But everyone knows there’s nothing normal about the things that happen in Wrangler’s Creek.
To make it all look real and to avoid Jerry, Lucian and Karlee take up residence in the guest house. But that guesthouse was small. And with most of the space piling up with wedding gifts, they couldn’t help but constantly bump into one another. And living in such close proximity with all that bumping was starting to give Lucian “bad ideas”. Karlee had always fantasized what it would be like to be with Lucian. Even one of his usual one month long relationships. This engagement was all a lie but living in that guesthouse with him felt real. She was starting to have second thoughts about pulling this ruse off. Lucian was having second thoughts too. He knew the engagement wasn’t real but the kick he got when he kissed Karlee was very real. And now he couldn’t seem to temper down the thoughts he was having. Thoughts he shouldn’t be having about the girl who’d been his employee and, more importantly, his friend for years.
As if the tension between the two of them wasn’t enough, they both get the rug pulled out from under them when everyone from their past starts showing up. Soon there’s enough old baggage at Granger Ranch to fill the lost and found at LAX. Lucian was the fixer. The one everyone relied on. But he wasn’t sure he could fix the mess his family was finding themselves in. And his confusing feelings for Karlee only added another level of complication. Could he work it all out before he lost the business, the ranch, and the woman he was starting to realize he needed more than anything else?
Though everyone but Lucian saw it, he and Karlee were the perfect match. Karlee was so good at working her magic to smooth things over when Lucian’s personality ticked people off. I don’t think he would have been the success he was without Karlee by his side. Once his mother mentioned how Karlee “lights up” when he was around, he started to notice her. He’d always found her attractive but didn’t want to ruin their relationship so he’d just ignored the attraction. Holding on to the pain of their childhoods also got in the way of moving forward. They both needed to realize that who they were had nothing to do with the mistakes of their parents. Once they experienced closure in that regard, I think they were better able to focus on the future they wanted.
The secondary characters in this series add so much to the story. I loved getting to visit again with all the Granger siblings and cousins. Even Vita showed up, which always makes my day. Candy, the Hoo Poo heiress, was hysterical and so outrageous I couldn’t help but like her. Regina is my idol! I was in tears when she masked off the entire house dividing it based on Granger shares. Meeting Jerry and Glenda really helped me understand Karlee and the Grangers better. Glenda and Jerry had both made choices that had cost them their families. As much as I hated them for the heartache they’d left in their wake, I kind of felt sorry for them because they realized what a mistake their actions had been. The townsfolk really had me chuckling. Delores Fossen uses such perfectly hilarious imagery to paint her characters. Who knew you could describe people so well with fruit analogies? And I had to google to see if Hairy Corn Salad was real. It is!
Ms. Fossen has such a unique voice in her writing and it really shines through in this series. No one can turn a phrase quite like her. The witty banter and embarrassingly hilarious situations are laugh out loud funny and are paired perfectly with a great romantic slow burn. Nothing about this story was predictable. I was just as anxious as the rest of the family wondering what could possibly happen next. Just because a book is labeled romantic comedy doesn’t mean it lacks seriousness. The Last Rodeo may have you laughing but it will still pull at your heart strings with the romantic tension and heartache. Now that Lucian has found his match, I hope this isn’t the end of this series. I will always be ready for a return visit to Wrangler’s Creek.
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