ONCE UPON A GROOM – Karen Rose Smith
Reunion Brides Series , Book 2
Harlequin Special Edition #2146
ISBN: 978-0-373-65628-8
October 2011
Series Contemporary Romance

Miner's Bluff, Arizona

When Jenny Farber was young, her mother died and her mostly absent father left her with indifferent relatives until she was seventeen and went to work at the Rocky D horse ranch. Silas and Olivia Decker treated her like family and invited her to live with them. Jenny loved the ranch and working with the horses. She also came to love the Deckers' son Zack, her high school classmate, and he loved her. But Zack's future did not lie at the ranch; he had other dreams. Once they graduated, Zack left for California to take up a scholarship for film studies. Though he asked Jenny to go with him, she couldn't trade her new-found security for the unknown.

Now, fifteen years later, Zack is an award-winning film maker with a penthouse in Los Angelus, a beach house in Malibu, and a condo in Vail, Colorado. He's only come back once—for his mother's funeral. The relationship between Zack and his father remains strained.

Jenny trains the horses, teaches youngsters to ride, and Silas has given her more and more responsibilities on the ranch. Jenny worries about Silas, and when he collapses, she calls Zack to invite him home for their fifteen-year high school reunion in hopes they can reconcile their differences. Zack returns for what he intends to be a short stay, but he gets more and more involved. The attraction between him and Jenny is still there, and when a friend brings an abused horse to the ranch for Jenny to gentle, Zack finds his old horse skills come back to him. But neither Zack nor Jenny feels ready to restart their old relationship. Zack has a film lined up that he really wants to make, and Jenny has a secret she has never shared with Zack.

ONCE UPON A GROOM continues the story of the classmates coming together at their reunion that began with Ms. Smith's February Special Edition, HIS DAUGHTER…THEIR CHILD, (#2098). That tale's Celeste and Clay appear here, as do several other nicely characterized friends like Mikala, now a music therapist.

There are various threads of plot concerning the intertwined relationships that can't help but tug at your emotions. Some get resolved here; some may carry over to the next installment. The well written Reunion Brides series will give you several hours of enjoyable reading and perhaps make you wonder about your old classmates: what are they doing now? And what would have happened if back then things had taken a different turn?

Jane Bowers