This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Published by Signet Eclipse
Released on October 7, 2014
I love it when a series builds on a beginning and just seems to get better with the sequel. I loved the situation that brought the Cavanaugh brothers back together after the death of their father, their determination to find out what really happened when their young sister was killed, and explore the personal pain that each brother experiences from which only the right woman can help him heal. In this instance, it’s James’ turn.
The story opens right where the first book left off- and yes, that means they need to be read in order and I assume it will be that way for the whole series as there are several strong plot threads that run through the books.
Deacon is pushing through business and other details to clear time for his wedding and honeymoon, Mac is left continuing her work on the ranch plus planning for her wedding, and the rest are left in limbo awaiting the wedding, awaiting outcome for the ranch after Blue disappeared and working to find the truth about Cass’ death. Into the middle of this, Sheridan O’Neil finds herself not only working on getting her boss’ Redemption Ranch project finished, but helping Mac with her wedding plans. Sheridan has never had a friend or a relationship because it is safer to keep a distance from people because then she’ll never get hurt like her mother when her dad left. But Mackenzie Byrd is a force of nature and she has decided that Sheridan will not only help, but be her friend.
James was taken with Sheridan the moment he encountered her. Even though his brain says to keep his distance, he can’t seem to listen. Sheridan makes it clear that she doesn’t do relationships either and that she’s there to do her job for his brother, but he pushes for a little more. Then when she gets threatened and hurt, everything changes and he can’t keep away. In the meantime, he and his brothers try to get answers out of Grace Hunter about what her dad the former sheriff knows about Cass’ murder, but now she claims that neither of them know a thing. As things come to a head particularly with Sheridan, he realizes that he has to make a choice- back away or beat his fears.
This story really has it all- murder mystery, a bit of danger, flawed characters needing time to grow, scorching hot romance, and a sense of family. The story has some of the heavy themes carrying over from the first book, but it also has a lot of humorous moments too.
Sheridan has never had a good friend and she definitely never saw herself going ape over wedding stuff so it was funny when she let go and embarrassed herself going girly over it all with James.
[quote]”I think I can see it too,” he said with a thread of amusement. He never would’ve figured Sheridan O’Neil for someone who got all flustered over wedding duds.
Her eyes shot to his and she shrugged. “Got carried away. All that lace and satin messes with your rational mind. Just FYI.”
He grinned. Damn was she adorable.
“I’ll try to remember that.”
pp. 123-124 Sheridan and James, Broken[/quote]
James was so buttoned up tight until Sheridan came along and he fought his feelings and attraction, but when he gets protective over her and wants to pamper her after she was hurt, he was adorable and Cole caught him at it.
[quote]”Where am I going?”
“Up to the house, in town, to one of the cottages,” James dropped the bags by the front door, then turned to look at the tatted up fighter, who was wearing ripped jeans and a white tank top. “Anywhere, but here.”
“And why’s that?” Cole’s gaze lifted and maybe for the first time since he walked through the front door a few minutes ago, he really looked around the place. “Wait a sec.” He inhaled deeply. “It smells good in here. Did you clean up? Is that a new rug on the floor?” His eyes bugged out. “Are those flowers on the table?”
“Well your eyes and nose seem to be working just fine,” James remarked dryly…
Cole stared at him, confused. Maybe even a little wary.
“What?” James demanded.
“Man card’s been revoked, brother. Hand it over.”
pp. 189-190 James and Cole, Broken[/quote]
But there were also some serious moments. James and Sheridan both had commitment issues due to their respective pasts, but Sheridan was like a breath of fresh air. She might have serious fears about getting involved with people, but she was honest and up front about it. She didn’t play games and she didn’t let James play games either. When he wouldn’t let her past his emotional wall, she was hurt deeply, but she said her piece and backed away. Oh man, it is so hard to find a heroine with that sort of maturity and strength.
Besides, the characters and romance, I felt the scenes with James and his horses and James with his brothers along with the separate scenes of Mac and Sheridan were good stuff. There is so much going on in this story that was so engaging and enjoyable and the back drop of ranch life, cowboys, small town was just even more delectable. I was okay with the first book, but didn’t connect with it like I did this time around with the sequel.
In the end, this was such a strong segment of the series and I can’t wait to see where the reveals to the Cass mystery lead and what happens in Cole’s story with the cagey Grace. Contemporary Romance fans who enjoy spicy romance and a strong suspense element should give this series a try.
My thanks to Penguin Group for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.