A Taste Of Heaven - Alexis Harrington The heroine, Libby Ross, grew up in foundling home in Chicago and had to make it completely on her own when she reaches the age of fourteen. She is hired as a kitchen help by a prominent Chicago socialite. When a few years later, the cook retires (?), Libby is promoted to be the new cook. She considers her co-workers her family and is relatively content. The son of the house becomes very friendly – and we all know where that leads – and sweet talks her into coming into his room when his mother is supposed to be out of the house. She returns early and finds them together and fires her cook on the spot. Libby’s grief has more to do with the behavior of her co-workers but she also had believed the sugary words of her employer’s son. Now she is out of a job and has difficulty finding a new one. She answers an ad for a mail-order-bride. When she finally arrives in Montana, she realizes the man had duped her and she ends up being his nurse, living in a dirt hovel. The story begins with his funeral.

Libby has not a lot of money but she is determined to return to Chicago, at least, she knows her way around there. Unfortunately, she little money she has is not enough to buy a ticket out of Heavenly, Montana. While trying to figure out what to do next, the proprietor of the general store introduces her to three cowboys hanging around his store. They work for one of the largest ranches in Montana and had the night before, run of the cook, it is pointed out that he deserved it as all cowboys apparently came down with food poisoning. They hire Libby on the spot.

At the ranch, the foreman warns her that she will likely not be able to stay as he doubts that his boss, Tyler Hollins, will want her there. Libby is discourages but hopes that making a good showing for a dinner will increase her chances. And so it does. Most ranch hands develop a minor crush on her and when Tyler returns unexpectedly during the night and meets Libby in the morning in his kitchen before his foreman had talked to him, they get off to bad start. Tyler is forced to let Libby stay as his foreman assures him there is no one else they could hire. It is agreed that Libby can stay until the men take the cattle to a city with railroads. He is adamantly opposed to let her come on the cattle drive.

Libby and Tyler get to know each other and we get glimpses why Tyler does not want her in his house. We don’t find out until late who Jenna was but we learn that she was petit and fragile not suited for the life on a ranch. We also learn that being a rancher is not Tyler’s first choice of an occupation for which he had trained away from Montana; rather it is his promise to his father to see to their land.

Of course, Libby ends up going on the cattle drive with the men. They learn bits and pieces about each other and both form a new picture about the other. Tyler learns that not all women are weak and Libby learns that while Tyler is certainly arrogant and a bit of a loner, she realizes that it is the weight of responsibility that makes him so.

When they reach their destination, Libby has earned enough money to leave for Chicago. She is leaving with a heavy heart but tells herself that it would be stupid to read more in Tyler’s friendlier manner than his appreciation for her work and to make the same mistake again by falling in love with her employer.

Tyler, with the help of his friend and foreman, finally realizes that he can’t let Libby go and finds her just moments before she boards the train to Chicago. He rehires her and while taking her back to the wagons, on the way, they meet a neighbor, who was Jenna’s father. The old man is fairly nasty and so Tyler drops Libby with his men, jumps on his horse and a races home in a huff. Slowly, bit by bit, Libby pieces events from Tyler’s past together.

Eventually, they do spent the night together, we face one more misunderstanding where Libby assumes, he took advantage of her and now that he got what he wanted, he is about to fire her. While clearing that misunderstanding up, Tyler learns of Libby’s past and fully understands her reaction.

One of Tyler’s men gets shot and is badly wounded and brought back to the ranch. This is when Libby helps Tyler to face his worst fear and overcome it.

Again, the love scenes between hero and heroine are beautifully written, just the right tone and words.

And while in this case, it is much more realistic that the hero does not do anything to avenge the humiliation the heroine had suffered Chicago and that there was likely nothing anyone could do about the nasty old neighbor, I wanted my knight in shining armor. A wedding announcement in a Chicago newspaper, showing the heroine’s good fortune and/or a way to convince the old man to move away. Something!

And also again, yes, there are spelling mistakes and grammar mistakes but I can honestly say, they did not distract me.