After my first encounter with the Taggart family of brothers in Desperado, I was eager to return to Utah ranching country for Jace’s story. The contemporary western small town setting, the engaging characters, and the gently character driven plot made it easy to settle in and appreciate. The Taggarts brothers are all so different, but I love them as a whole and love seeing each find romance.
This is book two in the Taggart Brothers series. I think a person could get by reading it as a standalone or out of order, but there are several references and an ongoing side storyline back to Elam and PD’s earlier romance. So best if read in order.
The story opens with Bronte and her girls limping into Bliss, tired and heartsore, hoping for a new start. Bronte spent many a pleasant summer at her Grandma Annie’s spread and then lost the connection when her controlling ex-husband cut her off. Now she has left that life in Boston behind and her grandmother and her grandmother’s home is the place that pulls her most. Her old van limps into Annie’s drive and expires on the spot, she has little money and must find a job, Annie’s home looks worn out like Bronte feels, and now a handsome stranger tells her that Annie took a bad fall and is in critical condition at the hospital.
The cowboy calmly takes charge and helps her and the girls out and then continues to help them get on their feet. Bronte doesn’t want to feel beholding to anyone, but realizes that she really does need the help and realizes that Jace and the rest of Bliss have made their new home a welcome, friendly place.
Jace Taggart is far and beyond what she ever had with her ex, but she has to focus on her girls and getting her mess of a life back in order. If his tender and patient care of his younger brother, his responsible nature, and his smoldering eyes affect her, well maybe she should give this thing between them a chance.
Jace is the responsible brother. While Elam went off to fight in the war and came back a little broken from the war and death of his wife and while Bodie goes off to work the rodeos and sow his wild oats, Jace was the middle son who came back to shoulder the reins of the ranch and care for their younger brother with disabilities. His dreams were left in his past and he knows no woman would ever take him and a boy-man who will never leave home.
Life presses in and he feels the need to get away or snap, until Bronte and her girls arrive. Part of him shies back from yet one more responsibility, but from the moment he decides to help out the beleaguered family, he knows this is different. With her girls looking at him like he has horns and knowing that his own youngest brother is a huge responsibility, he doesn’t see how it could possibly work out. Jace wants to try.
This one was a delightful surprise. The first one was exciting and passionate between Elam and PD and their Wild West Contest whereas this one changed pace and tone for Jace and Bronte’s story. It was tender and heartwarming as these two lonely souls connected and worked at a blended family romance.
All the complications of divorce and an ex with a drug addiction along with Jace’s responsibilities are the barriers. I liked how the author chose to go with these alone and didn’t whip up unnecessary stuff. It was the perfect amount of conflict. And when that final secret came out, it nearly broke my heart.
As a result of Bronte’s recovery from her divorce, they attempt to take things slow. It probably still happened fast since it was a matter of a few short weeks, but the relationship felt developed since they were neighbors and seeing each other every day and often not just out of their clothes, either. I loved their courtship. Both of them missed that part of being young for different reasons and now they get the chance- slipping away for sweets and kisses, for making out, and for spiffing up for dinners and parties, bringing flowers, and laying out under the night sky. They are an adorable couple and I reveled in their romance.
The surrounding story including the children was well written, too. The girls have to adjust to their new circumstances and young Lily is carrying an even heavier burden. I saw that coming so it wasn’t too big of a surprise even though the details left me with my mouth gaping and then a strong desire to do bodily harm to the one responsible. Go Jace for taking care of that for me! And then there was Barry who saw the world in a way that is different, but his simple understanding guided them all.
Alongside, Jace’s story with Bronte, there was the follow-up for Elam and PD. Loved catching up with them and anticipating Bodey’s story next.
In summary, this was a fantastic second book of the series that takes its tone from the current brother. Western Contemporary Romance fans should really take a close look at this book/series.
My thanks to Penguin Group for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Romance Roundabout #25 CR
Literary Pickers #25 saddle
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