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When cowboy Nate Todd is faced with the realization that the dude ranch resort he is part owner of is just a breath from failing, he and his business partner take the dreaded step of bringing in someone from the outside to overhaul and run the business. When attempts to find someone local fail, they realize they need to cast a wider net.
Jay Sullivan is a New York marketing executive that has just been downsized from his job, along with hundreds of others. With job prospects close to home slim and his family in turmoil, he realizes that a fresh start somewhere else may be just the thing he needs. Besides the salary package Crooked Tree is offering includes a horse.
The first part of the book is very slow burn, with the readers getting to know both MCs and their families. By the time the characters meet, the reader at least, understands why both of them need this arrangement to work. With so much responsibility on Nate’s shoulders (raising his younger brothers, running the ranch, etc) you can tell he is just short of burnout on a personal level. Jay has made it his job to look out for his sister and her children. Crooked Tree is just the place to do that.
The poignant backdrop for what otherwise is a typical cowboy romance trope, a sad family history of missing ranch teens presumed to have run away years before, makes the ranch’s slow descent into red ink make sense on a certain level and the reader feels for the three broken families left behind in the obvious tragedy, giving more reason to root for the men who find love with someone who on the surface shouldn’t work.
reviewed via Kindle Unlimited
I will read all books RJ Scott. Just thought I would throw that out there.
Time and again she has proven to create relatable characters in worlds rich with layers and nuance. Be the subject hockey, being differently-abled, or homegrown terrorists, she knows how to tell me a story.
I did not expect this series. It starts with a sweet staid cowboy meets city slicker, save the ranch, love story. There is a bit of sad backstory (kids long missing from the ranch, presumed runaways and likely no longer living), some interesting side characters, and a wonderfully developed world in which the ranch itself is almost a character, but the romantic outcome is fated. All in all a bit tropey, but a nice story. I expected the series to continue along that vein and it would have been good.
Then with the next installment, it became something great, the backstory comes to life in a very tangible and explosive way. It carries the rest of the series as it unfolds bit by bit with each new book. The side characters become main characters that filter in and out of their own stories while supporting the others. The ranch becomes not almost a character of its own, but the main character of the story providing the backbone for every other character. It is a place of family and friendship, of healing, and most importantly a place of hope and faith for broken men who have lost their way. The sweet meet-cute turned to intrigue and suspense. To delving into the full range of what men are capable of when driven by fierce love and loyalty when they are faced with those who are capable of anything and nothing good. This series, in my mind, is greater than the sum of its parts. The story told in whole with all pieces in place deserves ten stars at least.
reviewed via Kindle Unlimited