Title: Texas on My Mind by Delores Fossen
McCord Brothers Series Book One
Publisher: HQN Books
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 384 pages
Book Rating: B
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
The McCord Brothers are the most eligible bachelors in Spring Hill, Texas. But these cowboys are about to get wrangled by the love of some very unique women—the kind who can melt hearts and lay it all on the line.
Air force captain Riley McCord has come home on medical leave to find one heck of a welcome reception. Every unattached woman in Spring Hill, Texas, wants to nurse him back to health. That includes his childhood friend Claire Davidson—the only person who understands how damaged he really feels. In high school, she chose his best friend over him. According to Riley’s rules, that should make her off-limits forever. But when Claire suggests a no-strings fling, he can’t refuse.
Claire always wanted Riley—but she also craved the safety and stability he couldn’t offer. So she chose another path, only to end up crazier about him than ever. She’s even convinced herself that this time she won’t be devastated when he leaves. Yet once Riley realizes the depth of Claire’s feelings—and his own—he’ll have to make the ultimate choice: return to the job he loves or stay home for the woman who’s always lived in his heart.
Texas on My Mind, the first installment in Delores Fossen’s The McCord Brothers series, is a delightful friends to lovers romance. With plenty of obstacles to overcome, the fate of Riley McCord and Claire Davidson’s relationship hangs in the balance right up until the novel’s heartwarming conclusion.
Riley and Claire are childhood friends who wanted different things in life. Growing up, Riley could not wait to leave their hometown and join the Air Force while Claire was looking for stability and marriage. Firmly in the friend zone after Claire chose their mutual friend Daniel Larsen instead of him, Riley has an adrenaline rush career as a combat rescue officer but after a possible career ending injury, he returns to the family ranch to heal. Unbeknownst to Riley, Claire has temporarily returned to Spring Hill with her two year old son Ethan to get her late grandmother’s house ready to sell. Their paths immediately cross and while the two share a mutual attraction, there are numerous roadblocks standing in the way of their relationship progressing beyond friendship.
Despite his physical injuries and fairly severe PTSD, Riley is completely confident he will be cleared to return to his career and he is willing to work as hard as necessary to make that happen. His return is big news in town and he is immediately besieged by women from his past who would like nothing better than to entice him into marriage. Dodging them is a whole lot easier than avoiding his brother Logan’s attempts to lure him into the family business but fortunately his other brother, Lucky, understands his reasons for not wanting to become overly involved. Riley’s attraction to Claire is an unwanted distraction, but with his man rules firmly in place, he is confident he will be able to ignore his desire for her.
Despite her feelings for Riley, Claire went with the safe route when she chose Daniel as her boyfriend. Ten years later, their relationship has been on again/off again but she is currently considering Daniel’s marriage proposal. With Riley’s return, the gossip mill is working overtime as the townspeople continue speculating about the identity of her son’s father and her future with Daniel. Realizing her feelings for Riley have not abated in the intervening years, Claire cannot decide whether she should continue playing it safe with Daniel or if she should throw caution to the wind and act on her desire for Riley.
Riley and Claire easily pick up their friendship where it left off but there is definitely plenty of sexual tension between them. Both are carrying some pretty heavy emotional baggage from their respective pasts and these issues have a direct impact on their relationship. Claire is still struggling with the emotional fallout from her mother’s abandonment and she uncovers new information that is somewhat devastating. Riley still cannot see a future for himself other than the Air Force and he refuses to admit to himself (or anyone else for that matter) that he may not pass his medical board.
As if Riley and Claire do have enough roadblocks in the way of a relationship between them, outside interference causes added stress. Daniel absolutely refuses to take no for an answer to his proposal and he becomes quite manipulative with both Riley and Claire. Someone from Riley’s past tries to stake a claim on him and when he refuses to play along, she persistently tries to change his mind. He also has to fend off the unwanted attention from several of the single ladies in town who have set their sights on him.
Texas on My Mind is an engaging romance between two extremely likable protagonists. While the plot has a few familiar elements, Delores Fossen does a wonderful job keeping the overall story fresh and interesting. The tantalizing glimpses of Logan and Lucky will leave readers eagerly awaiting the next release in The McCord Brothers series.