Review: “A False Start” by Elsie Silver

Series: Gold Rush Ranch #4

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Steam: 🔥🔥🔥🔥

Release Date: March 18th, 2022

Add to Goodreads | (Available on KU)

CW: mentions of alcoholism/substance abuse, domestic abuse (off page), character with speech disorder

I kissed my best friend’s little sister, and the world stood still.

That night we were two perfect strangers, the town’s grumpy recluse and a gorgeous girl in the back of a bar. Until we weren’t.

Because Nadia Dalca isn’t just some girl. She’s the girl I can’t have. Fourteen years younger than me and completely off-limits.

My plan is to stay away, but the universe keeps pushing us together. It’s like some sort of cosmic joke, to give me a taste of something so electric—so real—something that breathed life back into me.

Because I can look, but I can’t touch.

Her sinful curves, her light-hearted laughter, her wild side . . . I’m addicted to every last bit of her.

And when she turns those sultry eyes on me––the ones so full of longing and so free of judgement? I’ve always considered myself a strong man. But when she looks at me I’m weak.

To give in to our connection would be a betrayal. My life is beyond complicated, and she has the world at her fingertips. Her brother is the only family she has left, and sad as it sounds, he’s also my only friend.

But I kissed her again anyway.

And now I can’t stop.


If I was to ever write a letter to Elsie Silver it would be to remind her that she’s killed me four (and a half, for that delicious novella that set this whole series in motion) times since I’ve met her and I am absolutely okay with it.

I’ve been putting off writing this review because I have so many feelings and I’m not sure how to put them all down without giving too much away. I still can’t believe this is Elsie’s debut series and her fourth full length novel, because the way it’s written and the stories she’s told over the last year have me in absolute awe. And while I’m not ready to say goodbye to the Gold Rush Ranch crew, I am definitely really happy with the way the series has wrapped up and just how comforting all of this is.

If you’ve read The Front Runner, then you’ve met Nadia Dalca. As Stefan’s younger sister, Nadia has been through hell and back and she’s the toughest young woman you’ll ever meet. With an abusive past and running away from their home in Romania to make a new life in Canada, Nadia’s journey through the last book and this one is absolutely stunning. I love how much she grows through the course of this one book itself, because she’s more than just a stubborn and young woman, she’s got big dreams and she’s working towards making all of them come true. And with the incredible support she’s got from everyone else around her, Nadia is not going to let anything stand in her way. I really liked Nadia in the previous book, but i absolutely loved her in this one. The woman we see in this book is strong, sassy and powerful in every way.

And then there’s Griffin. Oof. Elsie has a knack for writing grumpy, sexy and dirty talking heroes and Griffin is no different. But at the same time, he’s so different from the others. Vaughn, Cole and Stefan have all been powerful men with rough histories; Griffin was a powerful man and while he’s got his tragic past, he lives a much smaller life than the other three. As Stefan’s best friend and the guy who sold him the ranch he now lives on, Griffin is back to help Billie train horses at Gold Rush Ranch. Between his tragic football past, the substance and alcohol abuse, Griffin’s kept a low profile, preferring to hang out in his house in the mountains and away from people. He’s wonderful, as predicted. He’s damaged and aloof, he’s gruff and prefers solitude. But under all of that, Griffin Sinclaire is basically everything we want in a man.

“People don’t like me for my words, Wildflower.”

“I like all your words, Griffin. It’s what you don’t say that kills me.”

Nadia and Griffin’s story is *chef’s kiss*. Their first meeting is hot, but they’re complete strangers. And when they see each other again two years later, everything starts to unravel. I loved the push and pull, the teasing, taunting and flirting. I loved that Griffin lived up to the grump title everyone bestows on him, but I also really liked how with everyone other than Nadia, he’s a little more than a grump. He’s friendly with Mira and he’s a completely different person with Stefan, but when Nadia comes into the picture, he clams up. Like all his easy and comfortable living needs to be reined in so he doesn’t do something stupid like pin her against the wall and devour her.

Their relationship is a delicious build from avoiding each other to frustrating to each other to being around the other all the time. There’s tons of sexual tension and a triple serving of chemistry that will set you and your kindle on fire. Griffin is afraid to let himself go and all Nadia wants is for him to give her an inch, but even that becomes a struggle for him. I enjoyed watching them battle against their feelings and desire for each other. I loved how Griffin kept going through the motions of hating himself for taking something he wanted for the first time in a long time, even though his guilt was eating him alive. To Griffin, Nadia is off limits for various reasons—she’s the younger sister of his best friend, their age difference is a whopping 14 years and she’s got her whole life ahead of her while his is in shambles—but that doesn’t stop them from wanting each other. And I loved this internal battle and the moment that Griffin just gives in. I mean, I commend Griffin for being that strong all along, because I would have given into Nadia a long long time ago.

Here’s the one thing you can always be guaranteed when it comes to Elsie Silver’s books—insanely hot and delicious steam coupled with fantastic dirty talk. Good lord, she didn’t disappoint either, because every time these characters were together it was scorching. But while hot and dirty, I also loved how soft so many of their interactions were. Hell, this entire book is hot, dirty and soft and it works for Griffin and Nadia in so many ways. All that tension and chemistry builds into the most beautiful explosion and it truly was everything I ever wanted.

“But his demons don’t scare me. They call to my own. Our wild sides match, our shadowy parts twirl together so easily. Our demons spill out and dance together, like dark plus dark makes light.”

While A False Start is a steamy, small town romance, the thing that really got me and made me weep was just how intense the story was. Yes, it’s a love story between two people who shouldn’t be together, but it’s also about loving yourself and giving yourself a chance to accept your mistakes and grow from it. I loved how it was about second chances, it was about not feeling sorry for yourself but growing from the past. Nadia and Griffin both carry so much weight on their shoulders and their relationship struggles under that, but shedding that weight is the only way to move forward and the journey they go on and struggle through is truly something so beautiful. Seriously, brace yourself for tears because while Nadia might only be 21, she’s wise and strong beyond her years and she’s the perfect balance and antidote to Griffin’s life.

And before I say goodbye to these characters who have lived rent free in my head for a year, I just want to say that Elsie tied up all of the stories from the previous books so well. Billie and Vaughn were still so absolutely perfect. Violet and Cole were better than perfect and Mira and Stefan just made me feel everything whenever they were on the page. This has been one hell of a journey and I’m so glad I was able to be part of it in some small way!

Thanks to Elsie Silver for generously providing me with an advance copy. I am voluntarily leaving an honest review.

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