Title: Wyoming Rugged by Diana Palmer
Wyoming Men Series Book Five
Publisher: HQN Books
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 320 pages
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Diana Palmer is back in Wyoming with a tale of love born in Big Sky Country…
Billionaire oilman Blair Coleman has always taken care of his business. After having been used and cast aside by a woman he thought he loved, his personal life is far from his first priority. He knows only one has ever truly cared for him—but the irresistible blonde beauty is the daughter of his best friend.
Niki Ashton has seen her father’s friend wounded and she’s seen him fight. Blair is the strongest—and most stubborn—man she’s ever known. That very heart and passion makes him the man of her dreams, but whenever they’ve been in danger of getting close, Blair has always pushed her away.
It takes a possible tragedy to strip away all of Blair’s misgivings. Now it’s all or nothing: marriage, baby, family, forever. But will the choice be too much for Niki…or too late?
Wyoming Rugged, the newest installment in Diana Palmer’s Wyoming Men series, is a May/December romance between a naive young woman and her father’s friend and business partner.
Nicolette “Niki” Ashton is a sweet and incredibly sheltered young woman. In fragile health due to severe asthma and allergies, her father treats her with kid gloves and she is happy living in relative isolation on their ranch. How Niki’s innocence remains intact after going to college is a complete mystery, but she is definitely a throwback to much simpler times (which she readily admits).
Blair Coleman is a wealthy and successful businessman who discovers a little too late that the woman of his dreams is more interested in his bank account than him. After his divorce, he realizes that his feelings for Niki go beyond friendship, but he resists acting on his attraction to her since there is a sixteen year age gap between them. Blair is charmed by Niki’s genuine interest in him but he drives her away time and again since he just cannot seem to move past their age difference.
Niki does not date much and this is reinforced when a blind date takes a rather sinister turn. Luckily Blair is there to rescue her, but his heroic act only solidifies her unrequited love for him. Although she realizes her feelings for him are hopeless, Niki is content to remain Blair’s friend and she continues to live on her father’s ranch even after she graduates and begins working in Blair’s company. After Blair breaks her heart in an effort to distance himself from her, Niki finally decides to date a co-worker, but after learning unexpected news about her health, she makes a shocking decision that nearly ends in tragedy. However this crisis serves as an impetus for Blair to finally overcome his doubts about the difference in their ages but a future together is far from certain when he has second thoughts about continuing their relationship.
Wyoming Rugged is an old-fashioned love story that feels just a little out of touch with today’s world despite references to modern technology. The storyline is predictable without any real surprises (which is not necessarily a bad thing). In the end, the reader’s patience with the on again/off again relationship between Niki and Blair is eventually rewarded, but their journey to happily ever after is rather frustrating. Although this is the fifth installment in Diana Palmer’s Wyoming Men series, it can be read as a standalone.