Series: Gold Rush Ranch, #1
Release Date: April 29th, 2021
Vaughn Harding is my new boss. Getting close to him would be career suicide for a female racehorse trainer, and plain old gossip fuel in this small town. I get a kick out of our verbal sparring, but I swore off his type years ago.
And I’ve got plans.
I’m the new trainer at Gold Rush Ranch and I’ve just been handed a problem horse that I promised to make a winner. I want to put down roots, and I’m not about to let a man distract me. No matter how electric it feels when we lock eyes, or how my body ignites when we touch.
Vaughn’s a vivid reminder of every guy I grew up around. Handsome, rich, entitled–a total media darling. But there’s a sadness in him that I can’t seem to turn my back on. A sensitive side hidden beneath brooding good looks.
The last thing I need is a broken man to put back together, and the last thing he needs is more scandal.
Teasing him for kicks is one thing, but handing over my heart?
I should have known better.
Elsie Silver has officially won me over with her debut novel. Off to the Races is a smart, fast paced, small town, steamy, enemies to lovers that you won’t be able to put down. From the moment you meet Billie and Vaughn, you are completely obsessed and buried in their world, because it’s so captivating. And more than that, the book focuses on a sport and a lifestyle that I haven’t seen too much of in contemporary romance. Not to say that it doesn’t exist, but I’ve never read it and enjoyed it as much as I did with Off to the Races. For those interested, the novella that introduces the Gold Rush Ranch is available on Amazon, it gives you insight into Dermot Harding, the patriarch and the grandfather of the hero in the book.
The book follows horse trainer, Billie Black, who has just moved back from England to work on Gold Rush Ranch. She’s been brought on in the hopes of restoring the name and legacy of the ranch. Vaughn Harding, the man in charge, is dealing with the scandal and the stress of everything that has happened with the family business and the last thing he wants or needs is a smart mouthed horse trainer coming in to upset the balance of his life. Right from the moment they meet, it’s absolutely beautiful. It’s not a meet-cute, I can tell you that much, but it’s such an exhilarating scene to kick off a book that is no doubt going to keep you hooked.
“How long you been staring at me, Boss Man?” she mutters.
“Since day one,” I whisper in her ear.
Billie is such an incredible character. She’s wild and vibrant, she doesn’t take shit from anyone and she’s tough as nails. Billie has been through so much in her life and she’s just trying to make sense of her world and the choices that people around her have made. Billie isn’t going to just sit back and take anybody’s nonsense, even if that person is her new boss – Vaughn Harding. What I love most about Billie is how passionate she is about her job. She’s found the one horse that she wants to pour her heart and soul into and she’s not going to let anything stop her from making that happen. She works hard to train and get him ready. Billie’s love for horses and her passion for her job truly make her a character that captures your attention right from the moment you meet her.
And then there’s Vaughn. He’s a broody, grumpy, bearded suit wearing stud. Pun intended. He’s just so damn sexy. He might have been raised on the farm that he’s now running, but Vaughn has spent enough time away and running the business from a corporate office that he’s always wearing suits and looking good while doing it. Vaughn is the complete opposite to Billie’s free spirit and that’s what really makes you enjoy their interactions. He’s rough around the edges and he’s tough and frustrating, but he’s also got the best interest of the farm in mind. All he wants is to restore the good name of the family business and earn the respect that the ranch once had. And he’s going to do whatever it takes to make that happen.
“After collecting data, I can now conclude that under different circumstances I would climb the man like a tree.”
You guys are truly not ready for the chemistry between Billie and Vaughn. It’s beyond explosive. They butt heads right from the start, and they grate on each other’s nerves constantly. Billie is too much for Vaughn and he’s too grumpy for her. Which only makes every single one of their interactions so much fun. She’s all spark and shine and he’s all mumbles and grunts. And I absolutely loved that so much. I also absolutely loved how Billie and Vaughn fell into place. It’s not instant, they take their time figuring each other out. Yes, they are physically drawn to each other, but they take their time crossing that line. They are such an incredible pair and their relationship is just as wonderful. And good lord guys, it’s so hot. Their first kiss, their every tease, and then their first time together will just have you breathing very heavily. There’s so much about their relationship that will have you coming back for more, but it’s the quiet way in which Vaughn loves Billie that really seals the deal.
The one thing I didn’t expect to love and enjoy so much was all of the training and the racing and the business side of things that was in the book. But you get such a deep in depth look into training horses, you learn so much about horse racing and what it takes to get a horse ready for something like that. And I loved it. Those scenes had me on the edge of my seat and I felt like I learned so much in such a short time. This is where Billie’s passion for horses and her skills come into play and it was such a wonderful thing to experience as a reader.
I am so ready for the next book, because we get a glimpse of the secondary characters and they are all so interesting! I am now very much involved in everything that’s going to happen at Gold Rush Ranch and truly, I am excited for more!
Thanks to Elsie Silver and Indie Pen PR for generously providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.