Title: Rebel Cowboy by Nicole Helm
Big Sky Cowboys Series Book One
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 384 pages
Book Rating: C+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
UNDER A BIG SKY
For hotshot NHL star Dan Sharpe, hockey isn’t just his job-it’s his everything. But when claims of cheating get him bounced from the ice, he finds himself feeling lost. Everyone thinks he’s crazy for taking on his grandfather’s ramshackle Montana ranch, but hey, he’s Dan Sharpe: how hard can it be?
As it turns out? Plenty hard.
Mel Shaw has been fighting tooth and nail to keep her family from falling apart. The last thing she needs is a distraction, but taking a job as some city slicker’s consultant may be her only chance to save the land she loves. But she never expected someone like Dan to come roaring into her life, and it doesn’t take long for Mel to realize this hockey-star-turned-cowboy has the power to upend her carefully ordered world-and heart-for good.
Rebel Cowboy the first novel in Nicole Helm’s Big Sky Cowboys series featuring the Shaw family. This romance focuses on oldest daughter Mel and her struggle to save the family ranch by acting as a consultant to Dan Sharpe.
Mel is carrying a heavy burden on her shoulders and she stubbornly refuses to share it with anyone, including her younger brother, Caleb. She is prickly, emotionally closed off and overwhelmed, but instead of asking for help, she deliberately pushes people away. Mel’s need to save the family ranch is admirable but her refusal to open up becomes frustrating and her propensity for lashing out when she feels vulnerable makes her a very unsympathetic and virtually impossible character to like.
With the future of his NHL career in limbo, Dan escapes to his family’s dilapidated ranch to escape the limelight and try to build a future for himself. Hockey is more than just a career for him; it is how he copes with his unpleasant and difficult emotions. He is self-confident on the ice but he is endearingly inept as he tries to rebuild his grandparents’ beloved ranch. Dan uses charm and humor to defuse difficult situations but once he finds a new purpose in life, he puts genuine effort into making plans for his future. He is a genuinely nice man and his patience with Mel is pretty amazing considering how defensive and closed off she is.
The relationship between Mel and Dan is initially antagonistic with a strong undercurrent of sexual tension. Both have pretty formidable defenses in place, but it does not take long for Dan to relax and enjoy the progress he is making on the ranch. Mel continues to blow hot and cold and it does not take long for this unpredictability to become frustrating and tiresome. The storyline is eventually angst-ridden and mired in negativity as Mel continues to overreact every single time she feels threatened by her deepening emotions. While Dan’s character grows and transforms throughout the novel, Mel’s character remains stagnant as she continues to make the same mistakes over and over again.
Rebel Cowboy is a sweet and sexy introduction to the Big Sky Cowboys series. Despite his destructive tendencies and inability to reveal what is troubling him, younger brother Caleb is an intriguing character and it will be interesting to see what Nicole Helm has planned for him in Outlaw Cowboy.