by Mia Hopkins
Series: Cowboy Cocktail #3
Published by Samhain Publishing on June 28, 2016
Sub-Genre/Theme: Contemporary, Cowboys, Erotic
Format: ARC, Ebook
Buy: Amazon, B&N
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I received an advance copy of this book from NetGalley.
For eight years, Melody Santos played the game of love and lost—big time. Now she’s back in her tiny hometown looking after her younger sister, making ends meet with an assortment of odd jobs. When her childhood best friend hires her to help him sell his family’s grass-fed beef, the last thing she anticipates is falling in lust with the legendary, brown-eyed player.
To put his family’s cattle ranch back in the black, Clark MacKinnon has his sights set on big contracts—gourmet chefs and restaurateurs. If that means long hours traveling from farmer’s market to farmer’s market, Clark doesn’t mind. Particularly since his new assistant is his childhood crush, all grown up and sexy as hell.
One night in bed leaves them breathless and hungry for more. But when his love-’em-and-leave-’em reputation collides with her trust issues, Clark and Melody must face the truth about what they’ve become: not friends, not lovers, but players in a game that’s impossible to win.
Warning: Contains filthy banter, raunchy sex, excessive Johnny Cash references, and hundreds of pounds of raw beef.
I love this book so, so, so much.
Cowboy Player is book #3 in Mia Hopkins’s Cowboy Cocktail series, but it can be read as a standalone. This was my first time reading anything by Mia Hopkins–I haven’t read books #1 and #2, but I had no trouble following the story. However, I plan on going back and reading the others because Cowboy Player is one of my new favorite books. I love everything about it.
Melody Santos is back in her small hometown of Oleander, CA. She spent the past eight years of her life with her ex-boyfriend, who ultimately broke her heart. In addition, she’s grieving the death of her mother while also helping to support her younger sister.
Melody’s best friend growing up, Clark MacKinnon, is a local cattle rancher. His family’s ranch specializes in grass-fed beef and Clark is hoping to acquire some lucrative contracts. When Melody comes back to town, she helps Clark promote the ranch at farmers markets.
Growing up, Clark always had a crush on Melody, but he never pursued it because they’re best friends and he didn’t want to ruin that relationship. Additionally, Clark has quite a reputation for being a player–a real ladies’ man. In fact, he’s never had a serious girlfriend before. But when Melody comes back into his life, suddenly Clark entertains the possibility that he could become a one-woman kind of man.
Since she’s still reeling from heartbreak, Melody is not so easily convinced. She loves her best friend, but she knows he’s still a player. She’s also intensely attracted to him. One night, the chemistry is too strong and massive sparks fly between them. They spend the night together for the first time and it changes everything. They agree that what they have together can’t last because of Melody’s trust issues and Clark’s inexperience with commitment. Their arrangement is temporary, so they’re determined to enjoy it in the meantime. Because best friends can’t stay lovers permanently…can they?
I adored both characters. I think Melody is probably the first Filipino heroine I’ve read in a romance novel and I wanted to make jazz hands every time a Filipino reference was made. I’m talking about Tagalog phrases and adobo dinners. Not to go on too much of a crazy tangent–oh hey, why not–but this is exactly why we need diverse books: in many ways, this heroine reminded me of myself and that’s something I rarely, if ever, get to say.
Aside from this, Melody is just plain sweet. She looks out for her younger sister, constantly making sure that she’s on the right track and has everything she needs, like a car and rent money. In the wake of losing their mother, Melody steps in as a type of maternal figure for her sister and it’s very touching. Melody is someone who deserves real love.
I know that Clark has a reputation for being a ladies’ man, but I found him very appealing simply because of the way that he treats Melody: with respect and consideration. As her best friend, he cares about her well being and wants her to be happy. After they become involved sexually, he only has eyes for her and stops sleeping around immediately. It’s not long before Clark realizes that he’s falling in love for the first time…with his best friend. But can Melody admit that she’s doing the same?
The book is novella length, but it’s fast-paced and has a rich depth of emotion within the story. Because Melody and Clark have so much history between them, I found the transition from friends to lovers believable.
Cowboy Player has humor, heart, and it’s a combination that’s hard to pull off: sweet and filthy at the same time, just the way I like it. This book made me so happy and I highly recommend it.
Rating: 5 stars