Title: Betting on Hope by Debra Clopton
Four of Hearts Ranch Series Book One
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Genre: Contemporary, Christian, Romance
Length: 310 pages
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
A bet gone wrong. A small town’s meddling. And a cowboy intent on saving his ranch.
Maggie Hope is an advice columnist whose background leaves her with little advice to give . . . and it’s beginning to show. When Maggie fills in at an interview with champion horse trainer Tru Monahan, the on-camera chemistry between them is undeniable. Maggie’s bosses know this is the opportunity she’s been looking for to launch her career—and their bank accounts. In order to save her column, Maggie takes Tru up on the bet that he can teach her to ride a quick-stepping cutting horse like any cowgirl, despite the fact that she has never been on a horse. And in the meantime, she can get the scoop on the man under the cowboy hat.
Tru has been on the competition circuit for longer than he’d like, but he knows it’s the only way he can afford to keep the Four of Hearts Ranch that means so much to his ailing grandfather. So when his sponsors see the opportunity for Tru’s fans to get to know the star on a more intimate level, he knows he must oblige. To his dismay, Maggie not only invades his small town of Wishing Springs, but she also invades his heart, and that is something he cannot let any woman do—for her own good.
In Wishing Springs, Maggie finds what she has always been looking for: a community and a home. But when her past catches up to her, it threatens everything, even the tender hope that this town holds all of her heart’s desires.
Set in the small town of Wishing Springs, TX, Betting on Hope is the first novel in Debra Clopton’s Four of Hearts Ranch series featuring the Monahan brothers. It is an overall sweet and heartwarming love story that fans of Christian fiction are sure to enjoy.
Maggie Hope is an introverted advice columnist who is out of her element when she is forced to step in front of the camera when she fills in during an interview with Tru Monahan. She is also a little clumsy and her first meeting with Tru includes several embarrassing mishaps. Her nervousness during their interview leads to a surprising challenge that neither of them plan to act on but Maggie’s boss and Tru’s sponsor think that the bet would garner both of them some much needed publicity. City girl Maggie is like a fish out of water on Tru’s ranch, but with both their careers on the line, she sets aside her apprehension and concentrates on winning the bet.
Maggie has not had an easy life but she has an optimistic outlook and sunny disposition. She is also very kind-hearted and compassionate and this shows in the advice she gives to her readers. Maggie lacks confidence in unfamiliar situations and this coupled with her fears makes her very uneasy about having to follow through on the bet. However, the biggest obstacle that Maggie must overcome is her longstanding trust issues.
Tru is a hardworking cowboy whose finds his reputation as ladies’ man rather embarrassing. He, along with his brothers Bo and Jarrod, inherited the family ranch after their parents’ death and unbeknownst to anyone, his father had mortgaged it to the hilt. All three men have been working hard to pay off the massive debts, so Tru has to do what his sponsors ask of him. He gently encourages Maggie to overcome her fears but he remains frustrated by her continued lack of confidence in herself.
Tru and Maggie harbor misconceptions about each other but they quickly and easily clear up some of their early misunderstandings. They share a mutual attraction, but for the longest time, they avoid acting on it. When Tru receives devastating news, he pulls back from Maggie, which leaves her understandably upset and confused since he refuses to give her an explanation. Maggie also has a secret she has been keeping, but when she is threatened by someone from her past, she turns to Tru for some much needed advice.
The small town setting is perfect for the story and it is quite enjoyable getting to know its residents. The townspeople are quite colorful and a little eccentric, but they are very likable. They are a little nosy and over involved in each other lives, but it is also quite obvious they genuinely care about their friends and neighbors.
Betting on Hope is a lovely romance with a very appealing cast of characters. Debra Clopton does an excellent job keeping the storyline fresh and unpredictable with a few unexpected plot twists. It is an overall wonderful beginning to the Four of Hearts Ranch series and I am very much looking forward to reading Bo and Jarrod’s novels.