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The Rancher's Second Chance

The Rancher's Second Chance

4.4 24
by Victoria James

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She was the one woman who could make him risk everything...

Rancher Cole Forrester is all about running his family's ranch and guarding his heart. The last thing he's looking for is love, but when his little sister can't make it home to handle some of her wedding details, he's forced to entertain the event planner, Melanie Simms.

Melanie is


She was the one woman who could make him risk everything...

Rancher Cole Forrester is all about running his family's ranch and guarding his heart. The last thing he's looking for is love, but when his little sister can't make it home to handle some of her wedding details, he's forced to entertain the event planner, Melanie Simms.

Melanie is everything he's not even remotely interested in: she's high society, complicated, and high maintenance. When they're stranded together at his remote cabin in the Colorado mountains, Cole realizes there's more to Melanie than he imagined. But in close quarters, temptation is inevitable, and the last thing Cole needs is to risk everything...and give his heart away.

Previously released 3/10/2014 on Entangled's Indulgence Imprint.

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Entangled Publishing, LLC
Publication date:
Tall Pines Ranch , #1
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2 MB

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The Rancher's Second Chance

a Tall Pines novel

By Victoria James, Alethea Spiridon Hopson

Entangled Publishing, LLC

Copyright © 2014 Victoria James
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-62266-512-9


My appendix is about to explode. I'm going in for surgery.

Melanie Simms drew a long, shaky breath and leaned her head against the leather headrest of the driver's seat. She'd been sitting in her parked car outside the Tall Pines Ranch trying to get herself mentally organized before heading inside.

She opened her eyes and glanced at her iPhone display again. Sure enough, the same message stared back at her. Her poor friend. Corrina Forrester, bride to be in a week, was across the country on a last-minute business trip and had wound up in the hospital for an emergency appendectomy. She was supposed to meet Melanie here today to finalize the details of her wedding ceremony and reception.

Melanie placed her hand on the cold car-door lever and took a deep breath. She was going to have to make some executive decisions on Cori's behalf. They had known each other since high school, and she was confident she'd be able to pull this off. Her own expertise as a wedding consultant, coupled with a strong understanding of what kind of wedding her friend wanted, made her pretty confident she could handle the last few details without Cori.

Squeezing the handle of her leather portfolio tightly and carefully, Melanie stepped on the gravel driveway that led to the main house. Her boots crunched against the cold, packed earth. The faint dusting of snow on the ground and on the foothills only made the terrain more appealing.

The Tall Pines Ranch was sprawling, inspiring, and intimidating. It was set against the backdrop of the Rockies, and every time Melanie had been out here, the same feeling gripped her. There was a rawness, an overwhelming awareness of how small she was compared to the wilderness that surrounded her. The trees bordering the drive were bare, winter having robbed them of leaves and life, but not for long. In a little over a week the entire place would be transformed for the wedding. The naked branches would be dressed with twinkling white lights, and large rustic lanterns would line the long drive up to the main house.

She shivered as the frigid wind stole what little warmth remained inside her thin red pea coat. She was dressed for a day of meetings with her high-end clients, not traipsing around the ranch. As soon as her last client had left the studio, she drove straight out here, not wanting to waste time changing clothes first. Melanie climbed the wide wooden steps of the sprawling ranch house and knocked on the front door. Moments later, she was greeted by Mrs. Harris, the family housekeeper. As usual, her wide, welcoming smile made her feel as though she were visiting an old friend.

"Good afternoon, my dear. Come on in." Mrs. Harris beamed, grasping Melanie's forearm and ushering her into the entryway. Mrs. Harris had been the family housekeeper for years, long before Corrina and Cole's parents died. Melanie had liked her the moment they'd first met, when she was still in high school. She'd been very aware of how different she was compared to the housekeeper in her own childhood home.

"Thank you, Mrs. Harris. It's so good to see you," Melanie said, smiling as she wiped her boots on the textured sea-grass mat. Mrs. Harris motioned for her jacket and she took it off, placing it in her waiting arms. The older woman bustled over to the closet, her vibrant red dress swaying with the motion.

"It's so lovely to see you again, my dear," the elderly woman said, clasping her hands together.

"Nice to see you, too. I'm sorry I'm late, but my appointments ran longer than expected."

"Those brides are keeping you busy, aren't they?"

Melanie scrunched up her nose. "Unfortunately, they are. And not in a good way." She hated admitting her business was losing some of its luster, that the brides she was working with were increasingly demanding and unpleasant. "It's nothing I can't handle. Don't worry about me. How about Cori? Any news?"

A deep frown set into the woman's plump face, lines embedding themselves around her mouth. "Not too much, I'm afraid. Adam has already flown out to be by her side, and poor Cole is pacing around here like a caged lion, worried sick about his little sister. Nothing we can do but wait and see. Cole should be in soon for dinner; maybe he'll have some news for us."

She followed Mrs. Harris into the great room, ignoring the tickle of anticipation that scurried through her at the thought of seeing Cole again. It was ridiculous, really. Cole had never even given her more than a few sentences here and there. And that had been on one of his more talkative days.

A white ceramic coffeepot and matching cups rested on the large side table, and Mrs. Harris motioned Melanie to the taupe-colored, chenille sofa. Melanie sank into the plush cushions, placing her portfolio beside her on the couch. She'd been in this room many times over the years and it still evoked the same warmth. The only time it had seemed sad and vacant had been the year following the death of Cole's wife.

"Now, let's sit and catch up before Cole gets in. I told him you'd be coming by, and that man is never late for dinner when my roast is on the menu," Mrs. Harris said proudly. She poured Melanie a cup of coffee, the dark brew steaming in the large mug.

"You make the best coffee, Mrs. Harris," Melanie said with a sigh, adding some cream to her cup and then settling back into the dense cushions.

"Well, thank you my dear. Freshly ground beans is my trick. Cole loves a strong brew. Maybe because he's such a strong man." Her voice trailed, rather theatrically as she stared at Melanie over the rim of her cup.

Melanie gave her a small smile, trying not to show any reaction to that last comment. It was getting increasingly difficult to relegate her thoughts of Cole to the recesses of her mind when Mrs. Harris insisted on mentioning him every two minutes. How strong he was. And really, she knew the woman must have meant strong, emotionally, after the heartache. She should not be picturing his body. Cole had always seemed slightly larger than life to her, slightly beyond her grasp, beyond her comfort level. When she was in his presence there were times she felt like a child playing with matches, trying to get a spark, and instinctively knowing she'd have no idea what she'd do if that fire ever ignited. She stared inside her cup, hoping Mrs. Harris would attribute her flushed face to the warmth of the liquid.

Footsteps and men's low voices filled the quiet space, and Melanie's heartbeat quickened as Cole's deep voice became discernible. Mrs. Harris was already standing and seconds later Cole Forrester filled up the doorway and her mind. He was a solid, six feet two inches of hard, beautiful man. There wasn't a soft spot on his well-defined, hard-working body. His low-slung, well-worn jeans outlined his long legs and narrow hips. His hands braced the doorjamb in the entryway where she noticed his dark blue button down shirt straining against his wide chest. His trademark dark brown Stetson shadowed his eyes, though Melanie knew their exact shade of light brown.

He smiled at Mrs. Harris, the tiniest hint of a dimple peeking out for the briefest second. "Hi, Mrs. H."

"Perfect timing, Cole."

"Hi, Mel," he said with a nod in her direction.

"Hi," she answered, with a silly half wave. Then she scrambled, stood, and picked up her agenda. This was going to be painfully awkward without Cori around.

Mrs. Harris stood. "Dinner is just about ready. Melanie, why don't you join us? You can do what you need for the wedding once you've eaten."

She didn't glance over at Cole, but since he didn't second the invitation, there was no way she was going to impose. She shook her head quickly. "Thank you so much, but I'll just take those measurements in the great room and dining room and then be on my way back to town." Her fingers tightened around the leather portfolio at the thought of having dinner with them.

"Nonsense, no guest of mine will leave this house without eating. And you're like family," Mrs. Harris said, patting her on the cheek before picking up the tray and walking toward the entry.

Melanie darted her eyes over to Cole, who was watching her, his expression indiscernible.

"I really don't want to impose," Melanie said, following her. Cole had moved aside, taking the tray from Mrs. Harris, who was already bustling down the hall in the direction of the kitchen. Melanie realized he was waiting for her to walk through. Her heart picked up as she approached him.

"Well, now, you're a gorgeous sight after a long day's work." The deep, rich voice that seemed to come out of nowhere belonged to Gage Mackenzie. The Tall Pines' foreman and long-time family friend sauntered into the room with his trademark smile. Seconds later he had Melanie wrapped in his arms for an extra friendly embrace. Gage was every bit the handsome, charming cowboy. Cole made some sort of noise, but Melanie couldn't see his expression over Gage's shoulders.

"I think you can let her go now, or that roast is going to get cold," Cole drawled in a smooth voice and Gage finally pulled himself away.

"Yeah, well, Mel's worth eating cold roast," he said with a wink. Melanie shook her head at him, smiling. She'd always been fond of Gage.

"Nice to see you, Gage," she said smiling up at him. "I should probably see if I can convince Mrs. H to let me help with dinner." They walked into the enormous kitchen, where they were greeted by the sweet, rich aroma of roast and vegetables.

"No, you're not helping me," Mrs. H called out, placing serving spoons in a wooden salad bowl. Melanie approached the huge butcher block island and pried the spoons from her hands.

"Oh yes I am, or I'm not staying." She pointed a shiny spoon at the elderly woman.

Mrs. H winked. "I know better than to argue with you, my dear." She began slicing bread while Melanie drizzled homemade salad dressing from a glass measuring cup onto the lettuce.

Melanie gazed out the large windows as she tossed the greens. The snow had picked up and even though dusk had settled in, she could still make out the view of the snow- covered pastures, with the worn wooden fences and the mountains in the distance. It was a sight that made her want to stay here forever. She had always loved Cori's home. Mrs. H always had something cooking, and the quaint, comforting smell of homemade bread filled the air.

There was a very different vibe here than in her childhood home. Everyone always gathered in the kitchen and chatted with Mrs. H as she bustled around, never idle. At her home, they rarely went into the kitchen. Meals were brought out and they'd eat in the formal dining room. She and her sister Meredith were instructed to dine without speaking. Their mother would listen to their father drone on. Most times, she and her sister ate alone while their parents attended some "important" function. When she started boarding school and became close friends with Cori, her friend would invite her to stay for the weekend at the ranch and she'd jump at the chance. Despite her lack of outdoor skills, her time here had always put her at peace.

She missed the bowl and dropped a spoonful of the medley of greens onto the counter as Cole passed behind her to retrieve the salt and pepper mill from the cupboard. The fresh scent of soap mixed with leather and the outdoors teased her nose. Gage sidled up next to her and plucked one of the pieces of lettuce and he dropped it into his mouth. Melanie held up a spoon in a threatening motion, laughing. He smiled down at her.

"Darling, you can swat me with that anytime," he said, leaning against the counter.

Mrs. H snapped her brows together into one gray line. "You sit down and mind your manners, Gage Mackenzie."

He gave her a brisk nod, followed by a wink, and took the salad bowl. "Yes, ma'am."

"Sit," Mrs. H said to her as she placed a massive platter of roast, potatoes, and carrots on the table. Melanie nodded, taking a moment to decide where to sit. Cole was seated at the head of table, the scowl on his face making her not want to sit near him. The wide grin on Gage's face was much more welcoming so she settled beside him, as Mrs. Harris sat opposite them.

She had dined with them so many times that she knew she was to wait for Mrs. H to serve everyone. The rustic farmhouse table was dark, and chunky green candles in glass jars were flickering on either end. Yellow quilted place mats adorned each setting and dark pottery dishware was presently being filled with the most divine comfort food. Mrs. Harris was known for feeding everyone's soul, and every time Melanie had eaten dinner here when she and Cori had been at school, she'd wished this was how her home had been.

Within minutes they were digging into their food, the conversation lively between the three of them. Every now and then she'd glance over at Cole who, for the most, part ate in silence. His dark head was bent over his plate, and it was obvious he wasn't in the mood for conversation. She glanced over at Cole while Mrs. Harris served Gage an extra helping of potatoes and a side of serious reprimanding on his choice of women lately.

"Have you heard anything from Cori yet?" Melanie asked Cole when there was a lull in conversation.

He shook his head, glancing up at her. "Not much. I'm hoping tomorrow I'll have more."

"That poor dear. If only I were there with her," Mrs. H said, buttering the already rich biscuit and taking a hefty bite.

"At least Adam went," Gage said.

Cole made a noise under his breath and scowled into his plate.

Melanie frowned slightly. It was an odd reaction to Adam. Didn't he like his future brother-in-law? Cori had never mentioned there was any tension between them.

Gage stabbed his beef with his knife. "He'd better make sure Cori's surgery goes well."

"Damn straight."

Melanie rolled her eyes. She understood now. Cole was a notoriously overprotective older brother, and Gage was the surrogate overprotective brother. Melanie leaned forward. "Is Adam performing the surgery?"

Mrs. Harris let out a booming laugh. "Ah, it's nice to have female company in the house."

Melanie smiled at her, but was distracted by the rattling of wind against the massive windows. The light snowflakes had now turned into large, heavy flakes that whirled around the glass pane ominously.

Mrs. Harris followed her gaze. "You know, I think you should spend the night here," she said, patting her mouth with a yellow napkin.

Cole's coffee cup paused midway to his mouth, his eyes on Mrs. Harris.

"Yup, I think so too, or I can drive you home in my truck. And if the snow picks up, I can be your houseguest," Gage said with a wink.

Melanie choked on her coffee.

"No, Melanie can stay here." Cole leaned back in his chair, eyes on Gage. Melanie's stomach fluttered at the unfamiliar hint of …something she detected in his deep voice. No, she obviously was reading into things. He was looking out for his kid sister's friend. That was all.

Mrs. Harris stood from the table, picking up the empty salad bowl. Her head was downturned, but Melanie caught the faint smile on her face before she turned away. Melanie glanced back and forth between Cole and Gage. "I really don't want to be a bother. This is just light snowfall. I'm used to driving in this —"

"The roads aren't lit out here and it'd take you almost an hour to get back into Passion Creek," Cole said, standing. "It's no bother." He grabbed his plate and brought it over to the island. His back was to her, and Melanie let her gaze wander over the length of him. How many times had she admired Cole from a distance? Not that there could ever be anything between them. He saw her as his little sister's friend, and she knew he'd never truly gotten over Sarah. She'd attended Cole's wedding to Sarah eight years ago, a guest of Cori's. And then she'd attended Sarah's funeral five years later. The image of Cole, in his black suit, stoic and proud, would sometimes still haunt her. His lean, chiseled features had been tight, almost gaunt. The toll of having spent every waking moment with his wife the last month of her life was unmistakable in his face. There had been new lines around his eyes, beside the firm mouth. But the raw pain in his brown eyes had been devastating to witness. When tears had silently strewn down the plains of his cheeks as Sarah's casket was lowered into the ground, Melanie had turned away, unable to witness the anguish.


Excerpted from The Rancher's Second Chance by Victoria James, Alethea Spiridon Hopson. Copyright © 2014 Victoria James. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Victoria James is a romance writer living near Toronto. She is a mother to two young children, one very disorderly feline, and wife to her very own hero. Victoria attended Queen's University and graduated with a degree in English Literature. She then earned a degree in Interior Design. After the birth of her first child she began pursuing her life-long passion of writing. Her dream of being a published romance author was realized by Entangled in 2012. Victoria is living her dream-staying home with her children and conjuring up happy endings for her characters.

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The Rancher's Second Chance 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 22 reviews.
Cheryl-S More than 1 year ago
Cole Forrester's sister, Corrina, was getting married and her longtime friend, Melanie Simms, is the wedding planner. Corrina was away on business and ended up in the hospital the week before the wedding. Melanie was going to have to handle last minute details with the help of Cole, her long time crush. The more time they spent together, the closer they got. He never thought he would be attracted to anyone after losing his wife. He was definitely feeling something for his sisters friend. Melanie is in love with Cole but fears her secrets will not allow them to be together. Great story! Melanie's secrets are heartbreaking. I love her courage to stand on her own despite her past. Feelings felt so real that you could almost reach out and touch them. The attraction between Mel and Cole is sizzling. Cole Forrester is one sexy cowboy! I can't wait to read more from this fantastic author. I received a copy in exchange for an honest review.
kimberlyfaye More than 1 year ago
The Rancher's Second Chance isn't the type of romance novel I typically read. I generally prefer younger characters or more sexy times and even a healthy dose of angst. This book managed to completely enthrall me though. I'm a sucker for a second chance love story, especially when the character is as good as Cole was. The devastating loss of his wife left him closed off and definitely not in the market for love. Until, that is, his baby sister Corrina ends up in the hospital with an emergency appendectomy in the process of planning her wedding. Her best friend, Melanie, shows up to help and she and Cole are thrown together. They share a mutual attraction, but it's one neither is willing to make a move on, until they are. Once they do, it's sweet and romantic. They have chemistry, but the love scenes are mostly fade to black and it was perfect the way it was.  Both Cole and Melanie were likable, relatable characters. Cole's friend Gage adds a bit of naughty, flirty bad-boy to the mix and Mrs. Harris, the meddlesome housekeeper is amazing. Gage and Mrs. Harris both play Cupid, in their own charming ways, and it all left me feeling warm and fuzzy.  This was a quick, easy, romantic read. The characters were well-written, even if they weren't particularly complex. Both Cole and Melanie were keeping secrets and while I had feelings about both of them, I didn't have strong feelings. I wasn't overwhelmed with emotion while reading this book, but I definitely enjoyed it for what it was: a beautiful story of a man getting a second chance at love and the woman who was lucky to find him. And vice versa.  I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 
Eve379 More than 1 year ago
This book was so much better than I thought it was. Cole and Melanie had been around each other for years. Melanie always had a crush on Cole, but he was a few years older and always had his eyes on the woman he married. He found love early, and lost her to cancer. He vowed to never form an attachment to a woman again. Melanie, was so misunderstood. She had a very hard life growing up. Cole always assumed she was a materialistic girl, not knowing the reason that she came home with his sister was because it was the only safe and happy place she had ever known. She escaped her dads home, but has been all alone since her mom and sister were too afraid to leave with her. Mel is working as the wedding coordinator and has to spend time at the ranch, around Cole, and even though they're like oil and water at first, they seem to open up their eyes a little more and really learn who the other is. But there are complications to come in the form of old ghosts, and family. I'm hoping book 2 is Mel's sisters book!
BlushingReader More than 1 year ago
3.5  warm and fuzzy stars. The Rancher's Second Chance was a sweet, quick read that told a beautiful story about two people who are learning to let go of the past and move forward.  Victoria James writes wonderful characters  that she pushes outside of their comfort zones and forces them to really look inside themselves to see what it is they want from life. I enjoyed The Rancher's Second Chance, it was a breath of fresh air after so many of the angst-filled and dark romances I have been reading.  While Victoria James tugs at your emotions and tackles some heavy issues it isn't going to leave you emotionally destroyed in its wake.  Cole won me over by just being himself,  a cowboy with a broken heart that is happy being alone and wants to be the best rancher he can be.  Melanie was a tougher nut to crack.  I feel like we really got to know Cole but Melanie's story was all stops and starts that we had to piece it together, I really wanted to know more about her background before it all came out at once.  Also, I would have liked a bit more tension and sizzle (but that may be my warped mind liking the behind the door stuff out in the open) from Cole and Melanie, it almost seemed to happen too soon at one point and I wasn't sold until a few chapters later. Victoria James is definitely an author I will pick up again and read more from.  I loved her witty dialogue and characters that had spunk  (That Mrs. H was a hoot!).  I am assuming that Passion Creek is the start of a series (or at least I hope it will be) since I would love to check in with Cole and Melanie and definitely would love to get my hands on Gage's story. If you are looking for a sweet, romantic read that tugs a pit on your emotions this is a great book to pick up!  Add The Rancher's Second Chance to your TBR pile and meet Cole and Melanie.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very entertaining reading. Like the silent cowboys.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I always enjoy Victoria James' books, and this one was no exception.  A very wonderful romantic love story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was easy to read and very interesting with just the right amount of romance.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed reading this book very much! I think it had a little bit of everything in it. Very good read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
ReadYourWrites More than 1 year ago
Reviewed for Read Your Writes Book Reviews by Kim I will not deny that I’m a huge fan of Victoria James. Her books always seem to draw me in and tug at my heartstrings. The Rancher’s Second Chance was no different. When it comes to writing likeable characters who have been through the ringer, Victoria has the midas touch. Cole Forrester buried his wife five years ago and doesn’t want to risk his heart getting broken again. Melanie Simms is courageous beyond belief. She’s carrying around a secret that very few people know about. I hesitate to say that she’s feisty, but she does stand up for herself and those she cares about. Melanie is planning the wedding of Cole’s sister, Cori. Melanie and Cori have been best friends, since they went to the same private school. With Cori stuck in the hospital, just days before her wedding, it’s up to Melanie with the help of Cole, to get everything prepared. Cole isn’t a fan of Melanie. In fact, he doesn’t even know her. He just assumes that because she went to a private boarding school, that she’s a spoiled princess. With a meddling housekeeper who’s like a second mom, an outspoken best friend who loves to flirt, and a blizzard, you have the recipe for romance. But before these two can find the happiness in their lives that they crave, they’re going to have to overcome their past and their fears. I was surprised by the secret Melanie has from her past. I think Victoria did a wonderful job of addressing it and showing the readers a small part of it. I’m definitely looking forward to the next book in this series. **ARC courtesy of Entangled Publishing for an honest and unbiased opinion. Plus I purchased the book myself.**
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Lynn53 More than 1 year ago
A Second Chance At Love. Rating:  4 1/2 stars I was gifted a copy of this book from the publisher and author in exchange for an honest review.  I was not compensated in any way. Melanie Simms is a wedding consultant doing a favor for a friend.  Cole Forrester owns a ranch.  Almost from the beginning, Victoria has the reader laughing.  So you will need to be careful if you have the munchies – you don’t want to choke.  It’s nice to have a romance where you can laugh at the characters – makes them seem more human. If you love reading about a sexy brooding cowboy then this book is for you.  Maybe you like to set the mood while you’re reading; wintertime is a perfect time of year to bundle up in your favorite throw/blanket, start a fire in the fireplace, and have a nice hot drink handy.  How about a female character that’s not perfect but has the hots for someone she shouldn’t. Not all families are picture perfect.  Just remember, you can pick your friends but not family (and boy do I know that first hand).  This story shows the reader how some men feel they have the right to treat the women around them any way they want to.  But I applaud those that are strong enough to walk away.  This is what makes this tale so real – Victoria’s characters seem so believable.   This author gives a good life lesson in this great romance – you don’t have to suffer alone.  Don’t be afraid to find someone you can talk to or even ask for help.  This book isn’t graphic but it allows the reader to be either sweet or erotic when filling in the blanks.  And it’s one thing that keeps the reader engaged. Personally, I feel that Victoria wrote the perfect happy ending – it shows that no matter how bad your situation may be, you deserve a chance at love.  She also gives the reader hope that there’s also someone out their for them (unless you are already in a committed relationship).  You can’t go wrong in adding this book to your library.  If this is the first piece of work that you’ve read of Victoria’s, you may find that you will want to read something else of hers.
A-slickKkkkk More than 1 year ago
5 Stars This is the story of Melanie and Cole. Cole has gone through enough in the past few years that would ruin just about anyone and everyone that has gone through what he has. That is also true for Melanie. Most women that go through what she has would break and continue to be broken for a long time. This is a story of finding that one person that is worth opening up to again. The one person that you would risk the biggest part of yourself to; your heart. In the beginning Cole was reluctant to let Melanie in. He believed she was this rich girl that could get anything and everything she's ever wanted, she's gotten. But he soon realizes he doesn't know the real Melanie at all. Melanie and Cole help each other heal and grow from the hurt people they once were. They are the epic love story that is a reality for many people in the world. They give meaning to second chances and that in the world there are second chances at love, if only we're open to the possibility of it. I recommend this book to anyone who loves romance and the journey of love. It was a fantastic read and will be looking for more books by Victoria. She is definitely an author I will continue to read for as long as she continues to write books. **I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review!
Jasmyn9 More than 1 year ago
These books can be read as stand alones - the characters do not cross over for more than a couple paragraphs in passing.  This book is about more than just one man's second chance - it's about a second chance for both Cole and Melanie, just in drastically different ways. Cole is grump and short and doesn't seem to like anything since his wife died several years ago. Even though he promised her to move on, he never really has. He is determined to see the ranch succeed and doesn't need some high society girl like Melanie to help him do it.  Melanie is not what she seems to most people. Coming from a incredibly wealthy family, most look at her and think "trust-fund kid". But she left that life far behind her for a variety of painful reasons that she chooses not to speak about - ever. She's now a struggling business owner just like most people in Passion Creek.  Melanie was hired by Cole's sister to plan her wedding - which has placed her in his path more than he really likes. Especially since there seems to be something special, different, about Melanie that he can't seem to wrap his mind around. This is the story of them trying to open up and heal each other's hearts - trying to find a way to move forward and past all the painful memories and moments that have been holding them back.  A very sweet story with some sass that Victoria James seems to enjoy spreading around - and I really appreciate her doing so. Some of the dialog about short people with blotchy faces was great (you'll know what I mean when you get there).  *This book was received in exchange for an honest review* 
sirchad More than 1 year ago
Losing your soul mate to death is devastating to anyone. Every person handles it in a different way. For Cole, the devastation was complete. No one would ever take her place. He would work his ranch, cherish his memories and strive to achieve their dreams, all while living his life alone. He had had his one chance at love and had no interest in finding another. Then Fate dropped a bombshell into his path. When Cori, Cole's sister, was out of town, she was rushed into emergency surgery just a few days before her wedding. Appealing to her best friend and wedding planner to handle the last minute details, Melanie knew she was glad to help, but that meant dealing with her older brother, Cole. Although she had admired him from afar, he barely acknowledged her. She knew he thought she was a rich, spoiled, high maintenance socialite, but he couldn't be further from the truth. She had paid dearly for her independence, but those were her secrets. She knew he would never be interested in her. Only why did he have that scowl when his friend flirted with her and what about that look he gave her in the borrowed lingerie when the weather forced her to spend the night. Could she be mistaken? Was he as interested in her as she was in him? Could he be just better at hiding it? Was there a possibility of a future? Or would his late wife always be between them? And the most telling, would she be able to share her secrets with him and survive? Protective, sexy and handsome, Cole was any woman's dream of the perfect man. A tough exterior hiding a warm center, he had loved his wife and never wanted or needed another woman. Surprised at his feelings when he observed his friend flirting with Melanie, his sister's friend, and flabbergasted at the sudden interest and desire that ran through him after he observed her in the sexy lingerie, he felt confused. She was nothing like the wife he had cherished, but the pull of long forgotten emotions were definitely there. He was definitely attracted, but was he ready to take the plunge into dating again? Would it be a betrayal of his love for his late wife? What could a high maintenance spoiled city girl give him in return? Should he risk it? Was there a possibility that he could have two great loves in his life? An excellent story of a hot sexy cowboy with a broken heart and a society city girl with dark secrets finding their paths to an eternal love. Well written characters with a well developed plot provided a tale of the pitfalls in every new relationship. While they bare their secrets and hope for acceptance, they wonder if they have chosen wisely. The matchmaking antics of Mrs. Harris and Gage, were entertaining and provided many laughs as they steadily pushed them together. I laughed, cried and sympathized with the characters on their journey. I would recommend this story to all romance readers. I was given a copy by the author for an honest review. 4/5 stars Did they have a chance for love?
grandmareads102 More than 1 year ago
Melanie Simms walked away from her wealthy, abusive father and began a new life. She starts her own business and is a wedding planner. Her friend, Corrina, is getting married and Mel is helping her. This means working with her friend's big brother, Cole. Melanie is attracted to him but she won't let her emotions distract her. Or will she? Cole is a widower. He doesn't want to love again after he lost his young wife to cancer. Melanie is afraid to let anyone close after the traumatic pain of her childhood. Will they risk their hearts? This is a tender, romantic story that touched me. The characters are realistic. Melanie is a gentle, loving woman who guards her emotions. Cole is powerful and honorable. He protects those he loves. Victoria James has given us a delightful supporting cast. I love the meddling Mrs. H. as well as Cole's friend, Gage. This book is a perfect balance of love, laughter and heartbreak. I couldn't stop reading The Rancher's Second Chance. I hope there are more books in The Passion Creek series. I would love to read Gage's story.
AlwaysYAatHeart1 More than 1 year ago
I have read several of Victoria James' books in the past and really enjoyed them, so when I had the opportunity to read The Rancher's Second Chance, I couldn't wait to see what kind of story Victoria James would write that included a cowboy.  Needless to say, she didn't disappoint and has written a romantic and entertaining story that readers will love. Melanie Simms is a wedding planner and she just happens to be planning her best friend's wedding, which is being held at the family's ranch, a ranch which her friend's brother Cole Forrester runs.  As fate would have it, when her friend falls ill while out of town, Melanie must handle things on her behalf, which includes going to the ranch for some final preparations.  This also means she will be seeing Cole, who has always made her heart flutter.  Cole lost his wife several years prior and has been alone ever since, just the way he wants it.  In his mind, no one could ever replace her and he has no intentions of getting into a relationship now or ever, but there is something about Mel that causes a stirring inside he hasn't felt in a long time.  Melanie has her own secrets centered around a painful past.  When circumstances thrust these two together, the attraction they feel cannot be denied and the sparks begin to fly, but will the past and the hurts that still remain threaten to destroy any hope of a future for them before it even begins. I loved the characters in the story.  Cole is one super hot cowboy, and when he loosens up, he is a really fun guy to  He also has a very protective side, and he's determined to get what he wants.  Melanie is a city girl, but she's also very strong-willed, and strong as person.  She can be a lot of fun to.  One of my favorite characters in the book was Cole's friend Gage.  I absolutely loved him and I really hope he is getting his own book.   Overall, The Rancher's Second Chance is romantic and has just the right amount of sizzle.  I loved the story itself and found it to be romantic, sexy, and though it had its serious moments, it was also fun and enjoyable to read.  Victoria James has done an excellent job with this contemporary romance - it's most definitely something contemporary romance fans will enjoy.
sharonc06 More than 1 year ago
The Rancher's Second Chance written by Victoria James is second book in the Passion Creek Series.  Cole Forrest runs his family ranch.  Cole's sister is planning her wedding at the ranch and when she can't be there she asks Cole to handle the details.  Melanie is her friend and wedding planner.  She will be helping Cole handle the wedding plans.   Cole lost his wife five ago and is not looking for love.  Cole wants have the dream he and his wife had come true.  Helping Melanie he is starting to fall for her.  I love the way Victoria James wrote the characters in this story.  Cole is the strong, alpha man with that tender side.  Melanie is the sweet, caring, and has a great strength.  There is also Mrs. H Cole's housekeeper.  She the caring motherly figure.   I felt so many different emotions with this storyline.  You had  sadness, love, happiness and hope.  You could feel Cole's struggle and still hope for Melanie's happiness.  I had a hard time putting the book down.  Victoria James doesn't disappoint.   This a 5 star must read. 
Nicola_1202 More than 1 year ago
Cowboys. Give them the right story and I love them. And if we had them in the UK I would constantly be wandering the fields appreciating the view. Cole Forrester? He is a cowboy I would happily ride into the sunset with *sighs*. I've read enough of Victoria James' books to know that when I pick one up, I'll be treated to a romantic captivating journey and a couple to fall in love with. And I was, as The Ranchers Second Chance is a beautifully written book with wonderful realistic characters, a mesmerising storyline and set in a descriptively beautiful location. Wedding Planner Melanie Simms is arranging the wedding of her best friend, Cori, who, days before the big day, is in hospital. Mel is left to prepare under the watchful guard of Cori's big brother Cole. Brooding, quiet and very sexy, he was widowed young and is determined to fulfil his wife's final wishes for the ranch. Both have painful pasts, both have erected emotional barriers, but with a nudge in the right direction from the Ranch's matriarchal housekeeper, they can't fight their chemistry. Whilst their intimate moments are mild and kept pretty much behind closed doors, it is still passionate, touching, heartfelt and sexy. Cole and Mel's journey is one of discovery and understanding and with some laugh-out-loud moments lifting it exactly when it needed it, was an absolute pleasure to read. (This is the second book in the Passion Creek series; the first written by Inara Scott, but this can easily be read as a standalone) I received a copy of this as an ARC courtesy of Entangled Publishing for an honest and unbiased opinion