Jason's Duty - Alisha Guenzel
Review by Deepti Menon
The McGregor ranch seems the perfect place for romance, though Jason, “a dark handsome cowboy”, the eldest son of the family, has no time or inclination to fall in love. When Jonas, his father, falls ill with a congestive heart problem, much of the responsibility of taking care of the horses, and the running of the ranch, fall on Jason. His brother, Jude, is still young. His other brother, Jesse “didn’t have the ‘crazy’ gene of taming horses.”
The story opens with Jonas receiving a phone call informing him about the death of his good friend, Edward Sheridan, in a car accident. His widow, Lindsey, is also a good friend of Jason’s mother, Anna, as the two “families families lived on the same country roads” years ago. Lindsey and her daughter, Haley, come down to the ranch for a change.
The first few meetings between Jason and Haley are stormy, as the girl is still getting over the tragedy of her father’s death. Anna’s maternal intuition fathoms that Jason and Haley need each other as both are loners. She tries to throw them together as much as she can, asking Jason to ‘babysit’ Haley, which he does rather unwillingly.
Haley, with her “crystal blue eyes and wavy blonde hair” is a mystery to Jason. He finds her “an ice queen” with “an attitude problem”. Haley too finds Jason difficult to deal with initially, but they slowly come closer while doing chores together and grooming the horses.
However, the spectre of Haley’s fiancé, Andrew Manchester, who belongs to a “big corporate family that owns their very own advertising agency”, looms large over their lives. When the Mc Gregor boys got off to auction their horses, leaving Haley behind at the ranch, both Jason and Haley struggle to put their relationship into focus. Andrew, however, wants her back in Los Angeles.
Haley finds herself hemmed in between the two men. Jonas and Anna feel that she is perfect for their Jason. However, Andrew lands up on a surprise visit to figure out what is keeping Haley at the ranch, and away from him.
There are some beautiful moments in the book. Anna tells Jason to be patient as “God works HIS best miracles when we are not looking”. Jason hangs on to his hopes, as he hopes to woo Haley who has “waltzed into his life like a tornado”. The underlying motto of the book is mentioned often. “Each situation has a reason for happening.”
Romance is a genre that touches the heart and this love story tugs at the heartstrings as it is simple and tender. When Haley falls off a horse, and is unconscious for a week, the readers wait to see who she will choose in the end – Jason, the rugged cowboy or Andrew, the city slicker.
Alisha Guenzel tells a tale that flows with ease, the language is uncomplicated and the narrative effortless. She leaves a few strands of the tale untold, confident that there will be sequels to be told in the future. This is a feel-good story that will bring cheer to the reader even on a cloudy day!