by Staci Hart
Publication: February 23, 2021
Series: Small Town Romance
Bet the Farm is LIVE and available from your favorite online book retailer! This heartfelt, flirty story of opposites attract from Staci Hart is just what you need. Happy reading! 💕
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Olivia Brent has one summer to save the dairy farm she just inherited. But there’s one problem, and it’s not her lactose intolerance.
The brooding farmhand has inherited exactly fifty percent of Brent Farm, and he’s so convinced the city girl can’t work the land, he bets she can’t save it in a summer.
Determined to prove him wrong, Olivia accepts what might be the dumbest wager of her life.
His strategy to win seems simple: follow her around, shirtlessly distracting her between bouts of relentless taunting. And it’s effective—if his dark eyes and rare smiles aren’t enough to sidetrack her, the sweaty, rolling topography of the manbeast’s body would do the trick.
What they don’t know: they’ll have to weather more than each other.
Mysterious circumstances throw the farm into disarray, and with the dairy farm in danger, Olivia and Jake have to work together. But when they do, there’s more to fear than either of them imagined. Because now their hearts are on the line, and the farm won’t be the only casualty if they fail.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Staci has been a lot of things up to this point in her life — a graphic designer, an entrepreneur, a seamstress, a clothing and handbag designer, a waitress. Can’t forget that. She’s also been a mom, with three little girls who are sure to grow up to break a number of hearts. She’s been a wife, though she’s certainly not the cleanest, or the best cook. She’s also super, duper fun at a party, especially if she’s been drinking whiskey. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, sleeping, gaming, or designing graphics.
**I was provided a copy of the book by publisher and author. I voluntarily read and reviewed it. All opinions are my own.**
Bet the Farm is a romance set in a rural farming town in California, which I thought was a nice change from most small town settings. It gives a different view of California that most people aren’t exactly used to–something other than tech, beaches, and palm trees. The plot is fairly straight forward with city girl Olivia returning home to her roots to help save the farm she recently inherited from her grandfather.
Olivia is a regular Pollyanna with her happy-go-lucky attitude while Jake is a complete grump and set against any kind of changes Olivia wants to make to the farm. I liked Olivia. Her earnestness at helping with the farm is sweet. At times, her attitude annoyed me because she would feel bad for doing something that she shouldn’t have had to feel bad about because Jake was making her feel bad. She wasn’t flawless, but she didn’t have to apologize for so many things. Unlike the typical city girl with a farm on her hands, Olivia doesn’t want to return to the city nor does she want to sell the farm. Returning to the farm is returning home for her. While Olivia wants to stay, Jake would prefer she leave back to New York and allow him to manage the farm the way her grandpa always did. Jake draws the the line at just about every corner, including drawing the line between them. Jake is so fickle, he irritated me a lot. Just about everything would set him off, and Olivia would take the brunt of it. He would do something that showed he cared and then he’d run off or get mad. Don’t even get me started on how he never really apologizes to Olivia for being such a sh*t to her–if he did and I forgot, it’s likely because it didn’t sound like he meant it at all. I’m getting frustrated just thinking about him right now!
Olivia and Jake have some shared history but it wasn’t enough for me to root for them. In fact, I was rooting for Olivia and another character in the book despite knowing he wasn’t meant to be end game. He was charming, and they had chemistry even if Olivia said she supposedly didn’t feel it. I was never quite on board with the direction of Olivia and Jake’s relationship also because they butted heads more than they got along, which isn’t necessarily bad especially if there are undercurrents of attraction. Again, while each would explain there was something there, I never quite felt it the way I felt in Hart’s other books. (Spoiler but not really a spoiler because it is a romance novel…when they’re together, they’re pretty great together but the getting there wasn’t something I entirely I found convincing…or I just disliked Jake a lot. Ha!)
Despite my frustration with Olivia, Jake, and their relationship, Hart doesn’t disappoint in her writing. It’s probably the biggest reason why I continue to read her novels. I was frustrated with her characters here but I couldn’t be frustrated with her descriptions. Some of my favorite parts in this book come from the beginning when Olivia describes riding in the car and looking out the window or the feeling of coming home and still feeling her grandfather everywhere. These were the moments I just wanted to give the book 5 stars everywhere–it was the what and the way Hart made me feel.
Bet the Farm might not be the best fit for readers looking for a bold female lead but I would recommend this book for Staci Hart fans. I’d also recommend this book for those who like small town romances with hate-to-love as a central trope.