4 Stars / Contemporary / Review

Review: Bet the Farm by Staci Hart

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.

Jake Milovic.

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.

Title:Bet the Farm
Author:Staci Hart
Category / Genre(s):Contemporary
Trope(s):Bet / Wager
Enemies to Lovers
Point of View:First Person, Past Tense, Dual Viewpoint (H & h)
Location:California, US
Release Date:23rd February, 2021
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Fun, tears and hijinks on the farm

4 stars

I’ve read many a romance where a woman returns home to the farm upon the death of a loved one – only to fall in love with the guy that was left behind. However, this is surely the best example of any of those previous romances as it combines humour, heat and emotion with the storyline.

We start off with the reason for Olivia’s return – the death of her grandfather, Pop. And holy hell – while we readers never actually meet the man, his death cut me deep. I was bawling. Seriously. Bawling. It was pretty brutal.

During these times, we really get to know Olivia and Jake. We get to know their good bits and their bad bits. Jake is definitely a grump and while we understand why, he likes things his way. He tries hard to push Olivia away which results in him being pretty mean to her at times. Luckily, this is where you can tell that our pair are the perfect match for each other as Olivia’s upbeat, understanding nature means she always forgives Jake’s bad attitude. And the fact she gives as good as she gets is just the icing on the cake. Or, I suppose, the mud in the pig pen.

“…when they were happy and ribbing each other – it made my heart flutter.”

There’s definitely a build going on here with some time passing before Olivia, Jake and us readers just can’t take it anymore – and that’s when the fireworks happen. It’s high in the hayloft, all kinds of good. In fact, I was surprised the hay in the hayloft didn’t get set on fire.

I adored the teasing banter between Jake and Livi. Oh, I liked them when they were fighting (aka thinly disguised foreplay) but when they were happy and ribbing each other – it made my heart flutter. Jake’s bemused amusement when Olivia would say something cute or funny made me hands-down believe in their love. He loved her, quirks and all. And she loved him whether he was Mad Jake or not. Their love was everything.

And I also feel that it needs said that Alice survives the book. Maybe that’s a spoiler (it’s not really) but no animals – or at least no animals we know by name – were hurt in the making of this book. Believe me, it would have received 1 star if an animal kicked it. We didn’t even meet Pop and that damn near killed me as it was!

I really enjoyed this book and it was something different and I would love to read more from this world. Staci Hart’s writing is deliciously lyrical and she builds worlds that you can see, smell and hear. My only reason for giving it 4 stars instead of 5 was the pure emotion that Ms Hart brought out in me. It’s not something that everyone would deduct a star for, but for me, I just wanted to be a little bit more happier more of the time! But either way, you have to hand it to Ms Hart for her amazing writing! All in all, a fun and emotional book that I would highly recommend that you bet the farm on!

4 stars

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 to three little girls who are sure to grow up to break a number of hearts. She’s been a wife, even though she’s certainly not the cleanest, nor is she the best cook. She’s also super, duper fun at a party–especially if she’s been drinking whiskey–and her favorite word starts with f and ends with k.

From roots in Houston to a seven year stint in Southern California, Staci and her family ended up settling somewhere in between and equally north in Denver, where snow is magic and the mountains have become home. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, gaming, or designing graphics.

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I went down like a windmill, one socked foot in the air and arms wheeling. The calf had still grazed me, and the force combined with my graceless fall slammed me into the ground.

My ribs quaked, my lungs empty from the shock and locked by the pain. Stunned, I watched the calves tromp around me, knowing I needed to curl up or crawl away or call for help. Only I couldn’t move or speak, too busy trying to unlock my lungs and hear past the ring in my ears.

A sharp whistle cut through the chaos, and the calves trotted to the other side of the pen. The sun hammered me into the mud.

Breathe, I can’t breathe, I can’t—

Shade cast over me, and I cracked my eyes to see a silhouette of Jake against the crisp blue sky.

He gathered me to sit, bracing my body against his and inspecting me as best he could. “Are you hurt?”

I shook my head. “Can’t … breathe …”

“You can, just look at me.”

When I met his eyes, I would have told him that was the dumbest thing he’d ever suggested, provided I could speak. Because it was impossible to breathe with his face inches from mine. His eyes were narrowed in concern, the green of his irises crisp and vibrant, even in the shade. Maybe it was the lack of oxygen. I was probably hallucinating. No one could be this perfect, every feature symmetric and aligned. He had to have a flaw besides his shitty attitude. Hairy ears, maybe.

When he turned his head to check my limbs, I noted his stupid ears were perfect too.


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