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Available 4.15.24


Lessons from the Rancher

Lessons from the Rancher, April 2024
The Teacher Project
by Anna Grace

Harlequin Heartwarming
ISBN: 1335475745
EAN: 9781335475749
Kindle: B0C81QN33D
Mass Market Paperback / e-Book
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"Feel good second chance romance"

Fresh Fiction Review

Lessons from the Rancher
Anna Grace

Reviewed by Robin Reynolds
Posted April 1, 2024

Romance Western

Five newly minted young teachers arrive in the tiny town of Pronghorn, Montana, to help set up a public school for the students in the area, who have been in internet school only for three years. They’re eager to begin their teaching careers, and they have no idea what’s in store for them. The premise of LESSONS FROM THE RANCHER sounds like it should be an historical romance, with a small western town’s residents coming together to build a school for the kids. But it’s actually a refreshing contemporary story about a small community who, yes, want their kids back in a brick-and-mortar school, but not exactly coming together to accomplish that. The self-appointed volunteer principal and the members of the school board are quirky characters who are each pushing their own personal vision of what the school should be. Except the board president, the only member who seems to truly have the best interests of all the kids – and the community – in mind.
Willa Marshall is an English teacher, and at thirty-three is a bit older than the other teachers. After being ghosted by the love of her life in her early twenties, she spent the next ten years in a bit of stasis, solving problems for others while blaming all of her problems on her ex. I wasn’t expecting this book to be quite as deep as it was, but I love a good character study, and the author delivered on that front. While we are meeting Willa just as she’s finally getting her life together, we also get a lot of background through her thoughts and memories, and I admire her for the strength and determination she showed. She becomes the leader of the group more because she is older and the other teachers look up to her, despite her having as little experience as the others, but as she embraces her new role, sometimes grudgingly, she shows a lot of fortitude.
It’s quite a shock to Willa to discover the president of the school board is none other than that ex, and he has a daughter who will be attending her school. It’s quite a shock to Colter Wayne as well. While he can’t regret the mistake he made that resulted in his daughter, he’s never gotten over Willa and does regret the way he disappeared from her life with no explanation. And now he can’t even apologize to her as she makes it very clear that she is not interested in hearing anything he has to say that does not pertain to the school. Like with Willa, we get a deep look at who Colter is, and who he was. Not yet knowing the circumstances of Colter’s leaving Willa all those years ago, it was a little hard, just a little, to reconcile the boy who cheated on his girlfriend with the man we meet now. But we get plenty of introspection on his part, which I always love.
The overarching themes of the book, along with regrets, are forgiveness, perseverance, and for Willa, finding one’s self. Willa and Colter have both gone through character growth off the page, in the ten years since they last saw each other, but Willa’s has been more recent, and she is still finding out who she is and what’s really important to her. She’s drawn to Colter, but she still hurts from his betrayal. I enjoyed watching them cautiously get to know each other again, with Willa especially pulling back time and again as she vacillates between her attraction and her distrust. Her growing relationship with Colter’s teenage daughter was one of the best parts of the book. We all know teachers are overworked and underpaid, and the peek behind the scenes of a new school getting off the ground was fascinating. I loved the close friendships that developed among the five teachers as they struggled to balance what the kids needed with what the parents wanted.
LESSONS FROM THE RANCHER falls into the feel-good category, and I look forward to seeing which teacher will have his or her story told next.

Learn more about Lessons from the Rancher

SUMMARY

A second chance…
With his first love?

Single dad and rancher Colter Wayne has moved mountains to bring teachers to Pronghorn, Oregon. So he’s floored when one of the new arrivals is the woman he almost married. To make matters worse, it looks like Willa Marshall still hasn’t forgiven him. But the kids need Willa, and she needs his help navigating small-town life. Can Colter and Willa learn to let go of the past and embrace the future…together?


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