Review: Switchback by Willa J. Brand

Title: Switchback

Author: Willa J. Brand

Series: Mountain Ranch (Book 2)

Publication Date: July 28, 2020

Synopsis: As an only child of a bold Colorado rancher, Laney McRae has grown up confident in herself and fiercely self-reliant. Romance hasn’t entered her world since the disastrous end to her high school love affair, and she has all but given up on men. When a new sheriff arrives in town he instantly ignites a flame she’s never before encountered, but the new relationship may not survive the demands of her forward personality. When strange events begin to unfold on the ranch, it quickly becomes clear that she is being targeted by someone with a deadly intent, and she struggles to assert her independence amid the turmoil. As events escalate, she will be left fighting not only for the love she deserves, but also for her own life.  

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LINKS:     Goodreads           Amazon     

My Review:

Switchback, a contemporary fiction novel, focuses on Laney, a confident and self-assured rancher who has strong ties to her community and strong relationships with her parents. When she meets Nolan, the new Sheriff and band-mate of her friends, there is an instant attraction, and they begin dating. Both have not had luck in love and are slow to admit how strong their feelings are.

But when strange things start happening on her ranch, Laney suspects that it is more than just a string of bad luck. Who could want to harm Laney? Nolan is determined to find out, and not just because he is the Sheriff. Can Laney and Nolan figure out who is targeting her and her ranch before it’s too late?

The second book in the Mountain Ranch series, Switchback is a quick and interesting contemporary romance. The characters are well-developed as is the plot, which grips you from the start with the threat of an avalanche. I enjoyed reading about Laney and Nolan’s blossoming romance as well as the trials and tribulations they encounter throughout the first year of their relationship.

One thing I like about Willa J. Brand’s stories, in addition to the wonderful romances, is that they also examine bigger issues. In Switchback, for example, both main characters have baggage and struggle with their feelings about past relationships. Because of their issues, Nolan and Laney hesitate to take their relationship to the next level.

Laney struggles with her feelings quite a bit throughout the story. Because she felt things were left unfinished with her ex-boyfriend Cole, she doesn’t have the closure she needs to move on. Guilt and fear stand in her way. For Nolan, it’s fear and the bitter sting of a past betrayal. They both have experienced the ending of relationships in the past and avoid commitment because of it. They care deeply for each other but fear gets in the way, and they have to understand their past failures before they can take the next step.

The mystery surrounding the troubles happening around Laney’s ranch also causes complications in her romantic relationship. Since Nolan is the Sheriff, he must distance himself while he investigates. A consummate professional, he doesn’t want his personal feelings for Laney to influence the investigation. Of course, since he cares for her, his determination to solve the case is great. This results in an interesting balance between duty and desire.

Another aspect of Brand’s stories that I like is the integration of strong, supportive, and likable characters. In Switchback, Laney has a wonderful relationship with her father and great friendships as well. Her relationship with her mother, while long-distance, is also strong. I like that Brand examines the benefits of different relationships and shows the strength of family bonds and friendship.

A heartwarming story with suspense, intrigue, and a surprise twist that I didn’t see coming, Switchback is a great contemporary romance. I enjoyed the story, the relatable characters, and the romance. Thanks so much to the author for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.


Favorite Parts:

  • The romance, of course!
  • The father/daughter relationship.

Favorite Lines:

She refused to make herself smaller to fit into their idea of a future.

There was a restlessness that, even while it drew her to him, might very well keep them apart.

Conflicting feelings frustrated her; she liked things to be black and white. Grey areas were weaknesses. They were the home of people who didn’t have the backbone to do what needed to be done.


Readers who enjoy contemporary romances with a little bit of intrigue and a HEA will enjoy this heartwarming book.

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