In this first installment of the Bright Lights, Big Sky series from Terry McLaughlin, Hollywood come to Montana in the form of Fitz Kelleran, Hollywood heartthrob. Filming has begun on Fitz’s latest western and it’s Ellie Harrison’s land the movie company has leased. Fitz has dreams of making his version of The Virginian, so is racking up experience and glad-handing all the right people to make his dream a reality. He didn’t count on the widowed rancher, Ellie Harrison, to disrupt his plans though.
Widowed single mother Ellie Harrison has wanted a place to call her own since she was a little girl and Jenna Harrison took her into their home. Growing into gradually falling in love with and marrying Jenna’s son, Tom, she has a need and feels an obligation to pay back all of the love and home she was given by the Harrison family. When Tom is killed in a tragic accident it falls to Ellie to keep the ranch running as a legacy to their daughter, Jody. Now she has invited a Hollywood movie company onto the ranch in order to pay the bills. She never bargained for the feelings Fitz will invoke, nor all of the accidents that befall her and threaten her home and family.
Make Believe Cowboy was a story about misconceptions; those about people and about life as well. It was a heartwarming story about a woman who had dreams that were set aside in lieu of responsibilities; of a man who wants to make those dreams come true for her. Fitz was an endearing hero with a wealth of charm, which he learned early on to use to his advantage.
Ellie was a woman weighed down with all the responsibility of raising a young and impressionable daughter, and keeping her adopted family’s ranch from going under. She was a brave and independent woman who matched Fitz barb for barb. The chemistry was unmistakable, from the first insult to the last kiss.
There was also the secondary romance and courtship between Ellie’s mother-in-law, Jenna, and the foreman, Will Winterhawk. Will is 12 years Jenna’s junior, but that has never mattered to him. He has loved her for twenty years, and has reached the end of his patience. The courtship between these two older characters was just lovely. It was heartwarming and poignant; the reservations of an older woman were very realistically portrayed. I savored this love story very much. The chemistry between Will and Jenna was romantically drawn; very emotional love scenes.
I was fully engaged from the first pages of Make Believe Cowboy. I kept reading late into the night to finish the book, and anxiously await the next installment; Burke’s story.