The Word Nerd Reviews
The Cook and the Gangster (Farthingdale Ranch #5) ~ Jackie North
Updated: Mar 28, 2022
The Cook and the Gangster is the penultimate book in Jackie North’s Farthingdale Ranch series, and I have to say it’s my second favourite of the series (so far). Second only because it would take something pretty special to knock The Blacksmith and the Ex-Con off the first place pedestal!
Levi (the cook) has been a background character throughout the entire series. Always present, but moving in and out of the spotlight; just enough to tease, but not enough to really get a grasp of his character. I had absolutely no expectations going into this book. Apart from knowing it was a childhood friends to lovers story, I had absolutely no clue who the 'gangster' would be and how someone, possibly with a dark background, could fit into the Farthingdale family.
“Cassidy was like a wild thing that could not be tamed, only gentled by sweet touches and kind words”
I had faith that Jackie North knew what she was doing, though, and my faith was rewarded. I think I fell a little in love with Cassidy myself from his first introduction. His absolute loyalty to Levi, even to the point where he never really stopped searching for him, then when he found him, his patience and perseverance really was a thing of beauty to witness.
"I licked it, he said, feeling possessive and jealous all at once. You're mine now.
Always have been, said Cassidy … Always will.”
As per previous books in this series, Jackie North shows her keen eye for detail and her flair for landscape imagery by giving us another glorious view of the Ranch, this time through the eyes of city slicker, Cassidy. Through him, we begin to appreciate, all over again, the rugged beauty of the Ranch, as well as the gorgeous personalities that live there.
Friends to lovers, especially childhood friends, is one of my favourite tropes, and it’s done beautifully in The Cook and the Gangster. The whole story is simply a pleasure to read. I'd classify it as low angst, although it does have its emotional moments, but these are never overwhelmingly heavy. There is too much humour for that to be the case. It's not always laugh-out-loud, snarky brash humour, but the type that will have you smiling, unaware that you're doing so.
“I’ve got you, my prince, said Cassidy. I’ve got you”
The thing that makes the Farthingdale Ranch series hard to forget is its characters. All of them are truly good people. They all have their own personalities that range from pure sunshine to grumpy jerk, but underneath they are family, and they look after their own. That feeling of family and love, both romantic and platonic, keeps me coming back to this series. I'm simultaneously eager for and dreading the final book in the series. It will be bittersweet saying goodbye to the Ranch and the men and women who live on it, but I know it will be an unforgettable journey.
The final book, The Trail Boss and the Brat, is released on 22 March 2022, so now is the perfect time to make sure you're up to date. The Cook and the Gangster is a swoon-worthy romance guaranteed to tug on the heartstrings but leave you on a happy sigh with its beautiful HEA.
“I’m so glad I found you again, whispered Cassidy against Levi’s warm skin. So damn glad. It's like all the pieces of me came together.
Mine too, said Levi, low, his breath whispering across Cassidy’s cheek.
All the pieces of us”
The Farthingdale Ranch series:
Book 1 - The Foreman and the Drifter is available from Amazon
Book 2 - The Blacksmith and the Ex-Con is available from Amazon
Book 3 - The Ranch Hand and the Single Dad is available from Amazon
Book 4 - The Wrangler and the Orphan is available from Amazon
Book 5 - The Cook and the Gangster is available from Amazon
Book 6 - The Trail Boss and the Brat is available from Amazon