Paperback: 187 pages
Publisher: Mills & Boons
ISBN: 978 0 263 88834 8
Release date: October 2010
Main characters: Wyatt Black & Elli Marchuk
After a hard day’s ranching, Wyatt Black wants to kick back with a cold beer. But when he steps onto his porch he has unexpected company – his tiny abandoned baby niece!
His doorstep baby…
Against her better judgment, his neighbour Elli Marchuk agrees to help Wyatt for a few days.
And the girl next door!
Elli soon falls in love with baby Darcy, but it’s her grouchy, gorgeous protector who’s got her head over heels….
Wyatt Black has no clue what to do when he finds his baby niece Darcy abandoned on his porch. He is a rancher and knows nothing about babies. Fortunately his neighbor Elli Marchuk is willing to help him with baby Darcy till he has figured out what is going on here. Wyatt and Elli fall in love with baby Darcy and she is their number one priority till Darcy’s mum returns. They feel attracted to one another but both carry a lot of emotional luggage and this stands between them.
To be honest, I had low expectations when I started this story. Why? Because it is a novella, it is only 187 pages long or perhaps better said short. Me and short stories are usually not a good combination, I almost always miss a certain depth in the characters or plotline and it usually feels rushed. But Donna Alward pleasantly surprised me with Proud Rancher, Precious Bundle. It is a beautiful, even-paced, emotional and solid read about two people who try to heal themselves and leave their past behind.
The story works for me because it is not rushed. The whole story takes place in approximately 2 – 3 weeks; it is even-paced and only deals with the relationship of Wyatt and Elli. So no complex plotlines or lots of characters, just a classic love story between two people. Because the storyline is pretty straightforward the strength of this story lies in the character development of Elli and Wyatt. Both are strong, likeable and totally caught in the maelstrom of emotions that baby Darcy brings along.
Wyatt is a rancher, handsome, strong, and a bit blunt sometimes but also gentle, caring and responsible. He had a lousy childhood; his father drank and beat him and he took care of his mom instead of the other way around. To compensate his father’s absence and lack of responsibility he always felt the need to fix things or people and still does. He tries very hard not to be like his father, but his parents’ marriage has scarred him. Having Darcy in the house makes him realize he is nothing like his father and that he is worthy of a family.
Elli is a strong and caring woman who lost her baby; on top of that she has lost her job and got divorced. Now she tries to pick up the pieces of her life and tries to figure out what to do with it. The last thing she needs is to fall head over heels again for a rancher and take care of a baby. But taking care of Darcy is forcing her to face her grief and start living again instead of hiding from the world. And while spending time with Darcy and Wyatt she discovers what she really wants out of a relationship.
I was really rooting for Elli and Wyatt, I so wanted them to be happy and have their HEA. Thanks to Darcy they both had to scrutinize their lives, they helped each other to fathom things about themselves so that they can move on with their life. At the end of the story both have a better understanding of themselves, making them well-rounded characters. Elli and Wyatt’s conversations are vivid and some were very recognizable, making the story only more real. Do not expect steamy love scenes, there aren’t any and I did not miss them. This story does not need it for it is packed with real-life emotions.
With this story I now have Donna Alward on my radar. Proud Rancher, Precious Bundle is a powerful, emotional and classic love story. It kept me captive and rooting for Elli and Wyatt to the last page. It is feel-good romance at its best and I loved it!