Cover Image: A Thorn in the Saddle

A Thorn in the Saddle

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Member Reviews

What a great ending to the series! (Though … can we get Lilah’s story next?). This is the third book in the Cowboys of California series, about a family who owns a luxury dude ranch as each brother falls in love. This particular book has a bit of a Beauty and Beast twist to it. 

Jesse has been the most intriguing Pleasant brother to me since the very beginning. He’s very large, very reserved, but you could tell there was something special brewing under the surface. Lily-Grace was just the woman to bring him out of his shell and help him to relax his guard a little. 

I loved learning more about why Jesse is the way he is, he’s the oldest son and feels like he has to take care of everyone. He has a quick temper but he’s actively trying to be a better man.

Lily-Grace is a ballsy, outgoing woman who’s trying to find her place in the world again after a series of personal and professional setbacks. While she is strong and determined, she’s also a bit vulnerable and not afraid to put herself out there. 

She’s the perfect foil to Jesse’s shyness, and they really bring out the best in each other and teach each other important lessons. Their chemistry is immediate and I loved watching their relationship unfold.  

The blurb makes it sound like this is a political romance and I wouldn’t call it that at all, the politics were actually a minor part of the story so don’t let that hold you back if you don’t like reading about politicians. 

I definitely recommend this series!
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I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley and am voluntarily posting a review. All opinions are my own. 

A Thorn in the Saddle is the third book in Rebekah Weatherspoon’s Cowboys of California series. It can be read as a stand-alone, but the family bonds form the heart of the series, and are richer when read in order. 

I wasn’t sure what to make of Jesse going into this one…he’s kind of the strong, gruff type, which I don’t always love. But I actually liked how that fed into the storyline for this one, especially as this particular story is a contemporary retelling of Beauty and the Beast. I did love seeing his walls come down when he allowed himself to be vulnerable. 

Lily-Grace is a wonderful heroine who is more than a match for him, being able to set him straight when he interferes where he shouldn’t. She has insecurities of her own, and I also appreciated how they’re navigated. This is the second romance in recent memory I’ve read with a heroine who has vitiligo, and I’m loving that that condition is getting more mainstream attention. 

 I loved their developing relationship, and how it was sort of a different take on rivals-to-lovers, with them initially being at odds, followed by a beautiful, sexy transition of their fall into love. 

This is more of a marketing thing than an issue with the book itself, and a lot of other people mentioned it, but it did still bug me: there’s an emphasis on Jesse’s political ambitions in the blurb, and while it is there, it’s not anywhere near as prominent enough as the blurb makes it sound. 

I enjoyed this one, even though it’s not my favorite in the series. If you liked the first two, you’ll probably enjoy the others. And if you like contemporary/Western romances with racial diversity and a strong focus on family, I recommend checking this out!
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Jesse Pleasant recognizes he gets overly angry at times, but when he yells at his grandmother’s boyfriend causing him to fall and hurt himself, he realizes he may need some outside help dealing with his issues.

Lily-Grace LeRoux is FURIOUS with Jesse for the way he treated her father and lets him know. She is back home in Charming because, after being very successful in her work world, she was harassed by a coworker and is realizing her boyfriend isn’t who she wants to be with any longer. 

A Thorn in the Saddle is a delightful romance between two mature adults who are trying to figure things out. They have a past in that Jesse had a huge crush on Lily-Grace back in middle school; however, she left for boarding school on the East Coast, and they drifted apart. Things progress fairly quickly because both are willing to take a chance, and they communicate their wants, needs, and concerns. Things feel easy between the pair, and that translates to a healthy relationship. I like how this highlighted problems with past relationships and what healthy looks like. 

One thing that I loved about the story is that we get to witness both characters deal with some mental/emotional health issues, most especially Jesse. The author does a great job of getting us inside his head as he tries to understand and deal with his anger. I enjoyed watching him tackle some difficult feelings and come through with a better understanding of himself and his own needs.

In the end, I enjoyed A Thorn in the Saddle. Jesse and Lily-Grace share a sweet and sexy romance. Now that the three Pleasant brothers have found love, I hope the author continues with her world because there are still some great romances to be uncovered in Charming!

My Rating: B+
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I loved this book so much. I have enjoyed Rebekah Weatherspoon’s Cowboy’s of California series. I wasn’t at all sure how she was going to top the amazing middle book, If the Boot Fits, but she did. A Thorn in the Saddle is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast. It has a man with a temper, a daughter defending her father, and a couple who face their fears to be brave for one another.

Jesse has been the brother hanging out in his younger brothers’ books being quietly interesting. He shines in A Thorn in the Saddle. He was already a great character, but he makes himself even better for Lily-Grace. Jesse starts the book off in a bad mood and makes some poor life choices when he comes across his grandmother and Lily-Grace’s father having a romantic moment, He angers his grandmother, upsets his family, and puts himself in Lily-Grace’s cross-hairs. She storms into an important meeting, chews him out, and steals his dog. At that moment, Lily-Grace also stole Jesse’s heart (and mine).

One of the things that Weatherspoon does incredibly well is create women with an enormous range of vulnerability and strength. Like other great Weatherspoon women before her, Lily Grace knows her own worth. She knows who she is and what she likes. However, she has been through a difficult few years and is burnt out from work. Others including a man with whom she was in an intense long term sexual relationship, have not seen Lily Grace’s value and that has wounded her. She has returned to Charming, California tired and unsure of what she wants next, but quite certain that Jesse Pleasant will apologize to her father and take steps to atone for his behavior. Jesse does know Lily Grace’s value, and he is happy to show it.

Rebekah Weatherspoon is always a good read and A Thorn in the Saddle might be my new favorite of her books. Everything about this book was perfect and I will not hear different. It’s full of family, community, dogs, going to therapy, banter, love languages, sex lessons, swimming lessons, and horseback riding lessons. I felt so good after I finished that I have read it a few more times.

Thank you to NetGalley and Kensington Books for an advance reader copy. My opinions are my own.
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I loved this book! Third in the Cowboys of California series, this is Jesse's book and a loose twist on Beauty and the Beast. 
This book has everything. Community, family, you can go home again, pining for the one who stole your heart when you were young, sex positive and sexy lessons, open communication, good humor and angst, it is both sizzling hot & a warm hug, with the greatest dialogue, Jesse is a grumbling teddy bear, Lily-Grace can slay anyone. It's impossible not to cheer for them. Family dynamics are explored for both characters, as well as the question of what do you want to do with your life? I think both main characters make choices that are the best for themselves, while being aware of their growing relationship. No one abandons a dream just to stay, which I appreciate, but it's also not a vacuum. That's more realistic. I just loved every bit of this book, highly recommend.

I do think this book works as a standalone, but I also think knowing the dynamics of the family and side characters is developed over the series and it enriches the experience. Pacing is excellent and this was a can't put it down read for me.

CW for sexual harassment, feelings of parental abandonment, scenes of potential violence and breaking and entering that may be triggering to some people.
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This book was a delightful end to the series. Jesse Pleasant has deep founded intimacy issues after stepping up as the man of the house when his parents left. Lily-Grade has deep founded trust issues after her she was harassed at her workplace and her then-boyfriend treated it like no big deal. 
This entire book is mired in trust and relearning someone after years apart, and it's beautiful. This book is also crazy hot with a lady who knows how to articulate what she wants and a man who is happy to follow her guidance. 
In general, this entire series has been delightful with a variety of strong personalities, and I feel like we see those personalities crash in this book. In addition to the strong personalities, this book also highlights healing to a major degree.
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Another fun/sexy/sweet cowboy romance featuring the third and final Pleasant man. I really enjoyed getting a better look at Jesse Pleasant and his relationship with Lily-Grace. I loved how they supported each other and moved from friends to more.

I also loved all the scenes with the whole Pleasant family. It just felt good to be part of the group again. 

Definitely recommend this 3rd book in the Cowboys of California series.
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A Thorn in the Saddle is Rebekah Weatherspoon’s fun, fresh modernized take on Beauty and the Beast. It’s smart about people, warm, and filled with thoughtful commentary about how to accept growth and change in ones’ life.

Hot-tempered Jesse Pleasant is not like his brothers, in that he’s more of a gruff loaner type.  The whole family is preparing for the wedding of Jesse’s brother, Zach, and his fiancée, Evie (A Cowboy to Remember), a concept that’s old hat for the staff at their resort ranch, - Big Rock - which is located in Charming, California.  Jesse can’t remember a weekend in his childhood when the family spread didn’t have a wedding going on at it.  The Pleasants have deep roots in their California hometown; in fact, Jesse’s former actress grandma, Miss Leona, has a home on the land, and Jesse is very attached to her.  When he comes across her entertaining an elderly gentleman he presumes the worst in the heat of the moment, injuring the man in his attempt at rescuing a woman who does not want to be saved.

If the rest of Jesse’s family is less than pleased with his behavior toward Miss Leona’s beaux, then the wonderfully named and recently-returned-to-Charming Lily-Grace LeRoux is spitting nails.  The daughter of Mr. LeRoux, Miss Leona’s beaux, she wants justice for her father, who suffered a hairline fracture to his wrist from Jesse’s failed attempt at ‘rescuing’ his grandma.  It doesn’t matter that they knew each other in their childhoods; Jesse and Lily-Grace are at instant loggerheads, and it doesn’t get better when she bursts into an important meeting to yell at Jesse about her father’s injury.

This is the last thing Jesse needs. He wants to give back to his community by serving on the senate, and he’d been meeting with a charity organization because it’s important for him to connect to the people in his county, but talk about his bad temper has preceded him and he’s trying to build bridges.  Lily-Grace convinces him to go to therapy for his anger issues, and in the meantime offers to help him adapt his manners to public life.

Jesse has a soft core – he has an adorable and well-trained dog, for heaven’s sake! – the trouble will be getting the rest of the people in Charming to realise it. But ultimately, the only person Jesse really wants to recognize his sweeter side is Lily-Grace.

The ride toward romance is uneven, but Lily-Grace and Jesse manage to come out the other end in a delightful fashion, endearing themselves to the reader along the way.  They both have massive scars and baggage, but together they become even better people, and the reader is happier for it.

Lily-Grace has just gotten out of a relationship and is still processing her way through the difficult break-up when she agrees to work with Jesse, and her bumpy emotions are a major part of her healing process.  She has vitiligo, and people have not made kind remarks about her looks due to their own racism and prejudices.  She is confident and a deeply caring person.

Jesse’s anger issues, his stiff formality and his overly protective streak have combined to prevent him from relating to people.  The book gradually unveils the hows and whys of this, while pointing to his shyness and his love of his family and animals to show he’s not all bad.

I liked both of them and the richness of their relationship, which starts with a tit-for-tat pas de deux and ends with love, affection and understanding.  As always with Weatherspoon, there are a number of wonderful familial relationships portrayed here, and the characters’ families and friends and goals are as important to the story as the romance, Jesse’s friendship with Evie and the connection between Lily-Grace and her father primary among them.  Jesse’s brooks-no-BS relationship with Miss Leona is fantastic.  Jesse and Lily-Grace connect over dogs (Lily-Grace ‘steals’ Jesse’s favorite dog with her easy affection, which serves as a big bonding moment for them), which is sweetly rendered.  Issues like childhood trauma and toxic relationships are deconstructed deftly.

The rich Northern California setting is carefully detailed, with glimpses of country life and small-town living.

Thorn in the Saddle is one of Weatherspoon’s best novels, and a great read for anyone who likes their cowboys complex but growing.

Buy it at: Amazon or your local independent retailer

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A Thorn in the Saddle is not my usual style/genre. I generally read mysteries and rarely read cowboy books. I am not really sure what made me choose to read this book, but I enjoyed it. The story was entertaining.
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Jesse and Lily-Grace were a fun enemies to lovers couple that quickly became so much more! This story had so many surprises that I don't want to spoil but can I just say holy steam level batman! That was a fun twist! 

I enjoyed learning about Jesse's family life, his commitments and his willingness to learn and accept help. He was a definite book boyfriend. Lily-Grace for her part was someone I would definitely want to be friends with in real life. She is not afraid to speak her mind, to go after what she wants, and to stand out in a crowd. The story had a good amount of fun banter, some very sweet moments between family, and a lot of surprises that kept me turning the pages way past my bedtime! 

I cannot wait for more from this author!!
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Jesse and Lily-Grace are just perfect for each other. Book three in my favorite cowboy series. I’m grateful to have received this arc. 

I feel as though the synopsis is a bit misleading. Jesse having the option to run for office wasn’t a huge part of the book or conflict. More like a side idea for Jesse. I’d say his anger is the main conflict in his life. And for Lil-Grace, she was sexually harassed at work and her conflict is needing to decide to go back to work or stay with her father. 

Big brother Jesse is the rock of the family, to the point where watching his brothers find their wives and get married is making him realize how much he’s missed because he had to be the back bone. He also has anger problems that he needs to work on controlling. He walked in on his grandma with a man and broke the mans wirst.

Lily-Grace was sexually harassed at work and her garbage ex said she should feel flattered. She dumbs him and heads back home to her father. Her father was the man Jesse assaulted and she confronted Jesse AT HIS WORK like a bad bitch😂😂 

There’s sex lessons, therapy scenes, talks of parental neglect, sexual harassment at work, an ex harassing Lily, a panic attack in public

Smut score: 🔥🔥🔥
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A thorn in the saddle by Rebekah Weatherspoon is book 3 in the Cowboys of California and I want to devour the first two now. 

A huge thanks to the publisher for my e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.

The book follows Jesse Pleasant the oldest of the Pleasant brothers of Big Rock Ranch who finds himself acting as the caretaker of his family. So it's no surprise when he overreacts in a situation that leads to someone's granddaughter making an appearance and addressing his anger issues. I enjoyed watching these two characters come together and fall in love (or do they). Rebekah wrote an addictive and steam *wink* packed book everyone will love
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Thanks to the publisher & Netgalley for the complimentary ARC. All opinions provided are my own.

Q: how do you typically react when you’re angry? I have to wallow & coach myself before I share my feelings & I usually end up somewhat proud & somewhat embarrassed later 🤣.

Rebekah Weatherspoon’s A Thorn in the Saddle has such a great MC combo: a giant, bald, reserved hero who can take over the dance floor & a fierce, smart, knows who she is heroine who can wipe the floor with the hero or anyone else when she’s mad enough to do so.

Jesse Pleasant is one of the three Pleasant Brothers & the main one who feels the weight of responsibility for their luxury dude ranch & the family he loves.

The book basically opens when Jesse punches the man on top of his grandmother when he walks into her home unannounced, only to realize that the event is entirely consensual & very much welcomed, & the man in question is none other than his grandmother’s secret lover & Lily-Grace LeRoux’s father.

Lily-Grace is NOT happy with Jesse & she lets him know. It is so much fun. But then, even though she’s just visiting, she & Jesse begin sharing emotional things with one another & eventually strike up a sex lessons agreement.

This book has a lot to offer: considerations of toxic masculinity, anger management, & sexual insecurity, vitiligo rep, family loyalty. Jesse has some emotional work to do & he does it, going to therapy & considering why he acts in the angry ways he sometimes does.

& Lily-Grace? She is a star. Great with numbers, a talented go-getter who’s also patient & understanding & an advocate for the people she loves.

I have a quibble with a couple parts of their relationship development but A Thorn in the Saddle is sexy & entertaining & so are its MCs.

4 ⭐️. Release date: 10/26.

CWs: former sexual harassment; former partner who continues to contact Lily-Grace without her desire & against her express statement telling him to stop & later gets someone to try to break into Jesse’s home; panic attack.

[ID: a white woman holds a black phone w/ the ebook cover up. In the background are a road, green hills, & darker green trees.]
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I had been counting down to the days till this popped up on NetGalley and squealed when I received access! I don't want this series to end but if it must, at least we're going out on a super high note with Jesse. I loved the emotional ride we're taken on by several different characters. I think that's my favorite part of this entire series, we get to know and love ALL of the characters, not just the main couple. Everyone has substance and a purpose for being there. Loved this book and the series!
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This is now my favorite book of the year. full stop. I will not be taking anymore calls. 

I finished this over a day ago and I'm still in awe of how much I loved this. For the third book in the series, this gives the best kind of finale to a romance trilogy. And there is still room to grow if she decided she wanted to continue (at least I know I would just eat it up). So characters *chefs kiss*, plot *chefs kiss*, and when I try to think of any critique I could give, I got nothinggggg. 

Lily-Grace easily became one of my favorite heroines. Her personality and her quirks make her relatable and someone you want to root for. She came in with boss energy that made me want to be like her when I grow up. The banter between Lily-Grace and Jesse had me squealing and laughing because its just the right mix of jokes and presumptions. 

And Jesse, oh Jesse. If there was ever a time to animate book characters to life... In the other books in the series he comes off as stand-offish and a bit of brute, but he's this cinnamon roll of a dude that is doing his best to try and keep shit going. He starts to tackle his emotions head on, and my god, it's sooo sexy. (Plus the fact that he watches the Bachelor franchises on the regular and can make a mean lemon bar doesn't hurt either). His character was complex and layered and I just wanna cuddle up to those layers. 

One of the things I love about Rebekah Weatherspoon is her ability to spin romance tropes together and on their head in a way that is fun and exciting, and not that same old same old of some other writers. Fairy tale retellings can defintely get a little old, but the whole set was done very well. I didn't think that a Cowboy kind of book would be my cup of tea, but now its my fave of the year, so here we are.
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Greetings Bookworms,

I have been waiting impatiently for this day. Indeed, I have managed to get my mitts on an early release of Rebekah Weatherspoon's latest in the Cowboys of California series. It's JESSE PLEASANT TIME! The eldest and biggest Pleasant brother; the one who runs a ranch but won't go near the horses. He's charming, he's kind, and he has a notoriously short fuse. The perfect hero for a modern Beauty and the Beast retelling, naturally. Buckle up, Cowfolks, it's time for A Thorn in the Saddle! *I received a complimentary digital copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. The following opinions are all mine, and unfiltered.*

Well, it happened. Jesse Pleasant's temper finally got the best of him, and now someone is in the hospital. I mean, OK, he didn't actually touch anyone, but apparently he's scary enough that his elderly grandmother's gentleman caller lost his balance and hurt himself. So now? His grandmother is furious, his brothers are annoyed, and Lily-Grace Leroux is ready to throw down.

Lily-Grace grew up in Charming with the Pleasant brothers, but moved away and pursued a career in tech consulting. She's back in town visiting when all of this goes down, and she's not about to let Jesse get away with... Anything really.

Only, she starts to melt when she begins spending more time with Jesse and peeling back the layers of his gruff exterior. I wasn't expecting Jesse to be SUCH a big marshmallow. He's just a shy guy who grew to be extremely large and doesn't date much because he's demi-sexual (he doesn't use the descriptor on page, but I think it fits.) And yeah, OK, he's got some anger management issues, but they only seem BAD because he's a physically imposing dude. Anyway. This giant teddy bear gets a therapist like the actual sweetheart he is and figures some things out. All the while falling for the gal he's always held a candle for (it's so pure.) And even though she's been living a much spicier lifestyle, Lily-Grace more than happy to work with Jesse to find ways they can, uh, make things mutually satisfying. (He takes instruction well.)

It's official, folks. A Thorn in the Saddle is hands down my favorite book of the Cowboys of California series- and that's saying something. This is a gem of a romance, and I highly encourage you to dive in.
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Nuanced! Character! Development! And! Communication! We are here for it.

Also, the heroine is six feet tall, Black, and has vitiligo. Incredible.
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So excited to finally have Jesse’s story. It was complex like him and his and Lily-Grace’s journey was lovely to see unfolded. Jesse seems like the typical cowboy hero at first who is brawny and keeps emotions inside. As you read about how and why Jesse reacts how he does you fall in love with him more. Jesse and Lily Grace balance each other. The family dynamics play a big part in the story as well. This was such an entertaining romance to read.
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5 out of 5 stars and one of my best reads of 2021. 

It is a balm to your soul, this relatively uncomplicated Beauty and the Beast retelling. 

I stayed up way too late reading about Jesse and Lily-Grace and tomorrow me is going to be very upset but I could not sleep without finishing this book!

If you want my raw reactions with no spoilers, here’s my live read thread:
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I truly enjoyed this book, it was definitely worth the wait getting to see Jesse finally get his HEA! Rebekah Weatherspoon writes amazingly strong and realistic characters! I think Lily-Grace is one of my favorite female leads. I really liked getting to know more about Jesse and what makes him tick and where his issues stemmed from. It was a great ending to a great series!
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