Review: Starfall Ranch – California Dawes

Review: Starfall Ranch – California DawesStarfall Ranch
by California Dawes
Publication Date: October 26, 2019
Genres: Romance, Science Fiction
Pages: 171
Source: Book Sirens

I received this book for free from Book Sirens in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

My rating: One StarOne StarOne Star

30-year-old Shiloh Kerridan migrated to the moon world Sirona 5 years ago with one goal: to put a lifetime of betrayals behind her and never deal with a broken heart again. That stuff was better off left behind on Earth where it couldn't find her. Now she's the sole inhabitant and owner of 30 beautiful acres of land that she calls Starfall Ranch.

Life has been good to her at Starfall, and she hasn't minded the loneliness one bit. But the discovery of a rich vein of platinum beneath the land has a rich mining company breathing down Shiloh's neck for a piece of her pie. And what's worse, her orchards are succumbing to relentless blight and her farm droids keep malfunctioning or turning up broken.

The last thing she needs right now is an unexpected visitor.

Smart, beautiful, witty Thisbe Vandergoss leads a charmed life on 22nd century Earth; her family's power, connections, and resources are unmatched. At 25 years old, she's already a billionaire--thanks to her overbearing parents puppeteering her through every decision in her life. But now they're demanding she do the unthinkable for the good of the family, and Thisbe can't take it anymore.

Desperate to escape their grasp before it's too late, Thisbe signs up for a mail-order-bride matchmaking service that sends her to the far-off farm world Sirona to meet her new husband, Sean Kerridan. Better to have her own life with a 76-year-old man on another world than a life dictated by her parents' horrifying every whim, right?

Thisbe shows up at Starfall Ranch and realizes she's found the wrong S. Kerridan just as a storm cell sweeps through the valley, temporarily cutting off all communication, and Thisbe's way to her intended husband.

As two women from two very different worlds get to know each other over stubborn goats and apple pastries, the sparks begin to fly and they soon discover that they may have needed to cross a galaxy to find a chance at true love. But can they overcome their own fears, not to mention the machinations of powerful clans, to make it last?

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Look, this book has a lesbian hermit space farmer. I’m pretty sure that’s all I have to say to explain why I picked this book up!

“So what in the world was Shy’s entire problem? She was hot as sin and blessed with a voice that could melt permafrost, but clearly her brain was housing one too many issues of her lifetime subscription to Mad Hermit Farmer Quarterly. How else to explain her aversion to all social contact, and her white-hot rage when faced with a cup of coffee and a home-baked muffin?”

Shiloh, known as Shy, is perfectly content with her thirty acres of farming bliss on Sirona. Or at least, she thinks she’s content, until Thisbe shows up at her doorstep with a storm on her heels. Thisbe, escaping from her evil family on Earth, was meant to become a mail-order bride to someone on the complete opposite side of the planet – but then she met Shy. Stuck together during the storm, the two can’t deny their attraction to each other. But when the storm clears out, will Thisbe be gone as well?

“You are a life saver!” Thisbe exclaimed as she jumped up from her seat. “Can… can I hug you? I’m a hugger.”
“Of course you are and no, you may certainly not.”

So we’ve obviously got one of my favorite tropes – grumpy vs sunshine. I thought Shy was an excellent character, perfectly grumpy and set in her ways, but it took me a bit to warm up to poor-rich-girl Thisbe. They have instant chemistry, though, and they’re absolutely adorable together, from Thisbe’s attempt to cook breakfast for Shy (which naturally backfires) to their stumbling steps towards a relationship in the latter half of the book (they get googley-eyed over making a grocery list together.) Neither have ever had a serious relationship, so there’s a lot of blushing and aww-ing over their relationship firsts. It’s sweet, but the instalove was unrealistic for me and made me doubt the strength of the HEA. They’ve only known each other for a few days and all of sudden they want to get married and live together?

Thisbe got up and wrapped her arms around Shy’s shoulders. Her eyes sparkled in a way that made Shy want to spend every waking moment thinking up more new ways to make Thisbe exactly that happy over and over again.

I loved the first half of the book – Shy’s daily life, Thisbe’s escape from Earth and their initial meeting and start of their relationship – but felt letdown by the ending. The light tone – the humor, the silly puns that I absolutely loved – didn’t fit well with the seriousness of Thisbe’s conflict with her parents, and there was a bit of handwaving with that part of the plot at the end that left me frustrated. I did love all the descriptions of Sirona, and there’s a particularly lovely moment on a starlit hillside. The secondary characters were a bit underdone, besides Wallis, Shy’s farmhand, who was the perfect foil for Shy.

So, overall, while there was a lot about this book that didn’t work for me, there were things that worked well enough – Shy and Thisbe’s relationship, the setting – that I’ll be keeping an eye out for Ms. Dawes’ next book.

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