At the beginning of The Real Thing, our plucky heroine Manda is stuck at a wedding—her own—to her rodeo star fiancé. Sure, she’s counting her lucky stars that she’s fallen in love with such a handsome devil, and he with her. But she can’t seem to make it down the aisle. After some shenanigans, and an argument with her soon-to-be stepdaughter, Peyton, the wedding bells finally ring.

But don’t wedding bells ring at the end of a book, not the beginning? Doesn’t the “I do” come during the happily ever after? Manda already landed the dashing guy. Isn’t the story over?

Not even close.

Tina Forker The Real ThingIt’s the exploration of the happily ever after that makes The Real Thing so darn real, and such a great book, too. What happens after the hero, Keith, gets down on one knee? What happens when you have a teenaged stepdaughter to raise, and the perfect ghost of a former wife and mother—and gorgeous rodeo queen, besides—to live up to?

If you’re Manda, you get a little neurotic. But wouldn’t we all? She tries her best to be a good mom to the struggling Peyton, who remains devoted to the memory of the mother who abandoned her. She stands by her man even when he does some mysterious things that make her feel a little suspicious inside. But he’s given her no reason not to trust him, and she keeps faith that he’ll tell her in time.

And when a family secret cracks Manda’s heart wide open—with pain, and with love—she finally understands what the real thing really is.

Set against an authentic Western backdrop (the author lives in Wyoming), Tina Ann Forkner gives us loving families with troubled histories and an imperfect, adorable heroine who can handle it all. The Real Thing teaches profound truths: that love, parenthood, and marriage aren’t supposed to be perfect, and it’s the imperfections in life that can bring us the most joy. This is an enchanting, heartfelt book that you will remember long after you finish reading.



Tina Ann Forkner is the author of Waking Up Joy, which was a 2015 recipient of the HOLT Medallion Award of Merit for Romantic Elements, as well as The Real Thing, Ruby Among Us, Rose House, and Nashville by Heart. She lives in Wyoming with her husband and has three children, a daughter and two sons, all in college. Tina is a proud member of Tall Poppy Writers, works as a substitute teacher, and enjoys traveling and hiking. Connect with her at



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