Book Review: Rancher’s Deadly Risk by Rachel Lee

Title: Rancher’s Deadly Risk

Author: Rachel Lee

Series: Conard Country: The Next Generation #13

Page Count: 220

Publish Date: November 1, 2012

Publisher: Harlequin Romantic Suspense

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Synopsis:

In these rugged mountains, Cassie thought she’d finally found the small-town welcome she’d been looking for her whole life. But after she stops some school bullies, suddenly the rest of this close-knit community isn’t acting so friendly. The threats begin, and this schoolteacher has nowhere to turn for help until a rugged, mysterious rancher steps in.

Lincoln Blair has been drawn to Cassie from day one. That’s why he’s avoiding the too-tempting new teacher—he knows from experience that outsiders get bored and leave. Still, he just can’t help wanting to protect Cassie when trouble starts. As her danger grows, Linc realizes it’s his heart he’s forgotten to safeguard.

Rancher’s Deadly Risk

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My Review:

The publisher provided me with a copy of this book to review via NetGalley.

Looking at this book based solely on its genre, which is considered a romantic suspense novel and with a title such as Rancher’s Deadly Risk that is exactly what readers should expect. However, that is really not the case. The romance is, well, practically non-existent in this story and those few scenes that were romantic in nature felt rushed and lacked a good feel to them. It was as though the author wanted to write a romantic scene but then tripped over the words to do so. It’s certainly not the first romance book to falter in this aspect and likely won’t be the last either.

Then there is the matter of the suspense. Okay, yes there was some suspense in the book as they tried to figure out who was involved in threatening the main character Cassie and while I was somewhat interested in seeing if it ended up being one of the students, a parent, or someone in the community I didn’t feel like it took up enough of the story to help classify the novel as a suspense. In the end, the suspect was uncovered and in that scene, I suppose, was the apparently deadly risk the rancher, Linc, took to protect Cassie, but again it was quite lacking and didn’t do the title justice. Overall, it was a terrible example of romantic suspense and just an alright read if you looked at it from that perspective alone.

However there was more to this book than a lack of romance and suspense, and it was this main bulk of the story that is the reason why I am giving this novel a second review and rating because as far as I’m concerned this potion deserves some recognition.

Ignoring the romance and suspense part of the story this novel focuses on something of great importance and that is the rise in bullying in school and the need to instate anti-bullying programs. Now allow me to move away from the book for a moment to talk about this issue. Bullying is a growing problem and it’s not just in schools but everywhere these days, even workplaces are not free from cases of bullying and abuse. Though these issues are not often put to light, be it that the victim has kept quiet about it or no one has seen/heard anything happening it is a huge issue. Sadly though in many cases bullying goes practically unnoticed in many areas until something extreme happens like the victim committing suicide because they can’t handle it anymore or the bully going to extremes such as gunning down their classmates which will of course instantly go to the news.

Now, for the story, bullying is a large part of it. It starts with Cassie walking in on one student being bullied by a group of four students. She puts a stop to it but the bullies barely listen to her. This is amazingly typical of bullies, they ignore authority and often skirt around being punished for one reason or another. In the story, the principal knows that suspension is the usual punishment for this offense but because one of the bullies is the school’s star basketball player and their big game is coming up and the kid’s scholarship depends on it, so he does not give out the justified punishment. Again, this is something that happens way too often in school and is the reason why bullying and punishments for doing so aren’t taken seriously by so many. Yes, it would be unfair in a way to rob that kid of a scholarship and thus a better education because they chose to do a stupid thing and bully another student but this also gives them an excuse to do so with little to no repercussions. Cassie argued this point of course but in the end, agreed with the principal on his choice.

It was taken on by Cassie and Linc to build up an anti-bullying program, something that is sadly necessary in high schools. Now one problem I did have with this portion of the book is at one point Linc hand-picks several students to be the initial group to start up the anti-bullying campaign and get their input on how it should be run. Now, the students he picked were athletes and several popular girls. Sorry, but that is the wrong group to run the anti-bullying thing. The reason is that almost always it is the popular kids that are the source of bullying in schools, so even if they agreed to help with the anti-bullying campaign they are, whether the teachers realize it or not, the ones causing these things to happen. And sure they may say they want to help but that’s just a cover, as soon as the teacher is out of the picture they will go back to tormenting whatever poor student is currently on their list. Now, I’m not saying that all popular kids are like this and those who show interest in anti-bullying are always bullies but it is often the case and so I have to completely disagree with Linc’s choice in this matter.

However, ignoring that, Rancher’s Deadly Risk does do a very good job of getting the message across about the threat of bullying and how it can and often does escalate quickly even if measures are in place to try to stop it. It also shows that it isn’t just students and kids that can get bullied but adults as well. It shows also the effects on the kids who are bullied, especially those who receive that treatment no matter what school they attend or how old they are. Bullying is not just kids being kids, you can’t ignore it because that makes it worse, and yet standing up for yourself, as the one being bullied, also often makes it worse. It takes guts to stand up to a bully, whether you are a student or a teacher, and even then it rarely helps. Cassie did a great job of standing up to the bullies in this story even as the threats against her rose from harmful pranks to life-threatening ones.

On a personal note, as someone who was bullied straight through public school all the way up to and including University, I have to give the author a round of applause for bringing this subject into the light. It’s not an easy issue to deal with and many people would just as soon ignore it and not believe that it ever happens in their schools or workplace, but it is real, very real and I can tell you from personal experience it affects a person well after the bullying has stopped.

I would not suggest this book to someone who is looking for a good romance story, nor would I recommend it to someone who wants to read a suspense novel. However, I would and will recommend this book to everyone because it does a great job of talking about bullying and what needs to be done to try to stop this growing trend. So please, find the time to read this book and understand that bullying, be it in the pages of a novel or in the schools in your town, is real and that we need to work to stop the issue from getting any worse than it already has.

I hope you enjoyed my review of Rancher’s Deadly Risk. Have you read this book?

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