This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Western Romance
Published by Forever
Released on July 2, 2019
I had my eye on this series when the first book, The Last True Cowboy, released, but didn’t have time to fit it in. I wanted to try a new to me author and her cowboy romance series, but ended up going with this one instead of book one.
Home at Chestnut Creek picks up the story of prickly, secondary character, Nevada Sweet, from the first book as the heroine and a new character for the hero, Joseph Fishing Eagle King. He had his own struggles, but is capable of handling all the defensive, scared, socially awkward mouthy stubbornness that Nevada dishes up in large quantities. Their romance is not easy and it was a good slow burn friends to lovers, but so worth it seeing them grow as individuals and then together as they heal.
As I mentioned, I started with book two. I managed to get up to speed and could read it as a standalone, but at the same time, I recognized that there was some water under the bridge for Carly and Nevada’s friendship from the first book and of course, Carly and Austin were the couple from book one.
Nevada is running and hiding for her life after messing with some bad people that are part of her complicated, troubled past. She doesn’t want to bring trouble to Carly’s doorstep and she very much would rather depend on nothing from nobody, but her temporary stopover in Unforgiven, New Mexico and working in Carly’s diner becomes much more than a temporary haven not the least of which is because of Joseph Fishing Eagle King, the diner cook and a Navajo with his own past demons to exorcise.
Joseph is cooking at the diner, teaching the Dine children to appreciate their heritage by making sure they learn the language and the ways of their people even while he also has had a long path of learning, knowing he dishonored his heritage for a time. But, he made his grandmother a promise and he will keep it even as the stranger wheedles her way into his life. He saw right through her crusty armor from day one and gets it. A friendship forms and then more which means that he must make a choice as does Nevada since both were determined on other paths.
Home at Chestnut Creek introduces a heroine that is one of those tough nuts to crack and stays that way for a while. She’s gotten herself into a bad tangle and comes to a place for help, but she’d rather do anything than act like she needs help or other people. She’s like an abused dog who snaps and snarls and looks with suspicion on any attempt at help or kindness. Some folks get really bad breaks in life and have seen and experienced more than their fair share so they develop defense and coping mechanisms. Nevada took some time to unfurl the true person she could be when not backed to a wall and surviving rather than living. It took a while, but her true nature had me smiling and excited for her. There were hints along the way which made me able to keep reading and cheering for her when at first I was struck often by the urge to shake her. It was good to get an alternating point of view between her and Joseph.
Joseph wasn’t obviously prickly and snarly like Nevada and he’s ahead of her in finding his way so he could both recognize her issues and why she was acting the way she was, patiently handle her carefully, and make a connection with her. He left the reservation and family and heritage for a time and now he is trying to get all that back with better appreciation though it takes a bit for him to understand that he’s doing it for the wrong reasons- guilt and self-punishment- at first.
I enjoyed the careful description of the Navajo culture and seeing what they struggle with in modern times. The author took the time to write some good scenes with Joseph and the tribe, his family, and the setting descriptions rang true since I had been through that area a while back and could easily see what the author was describing from the small town, to his hogan house and to the reservation in my mind’s eye.
The careful friends to lovers romance was there running through the whole story, but naturally their wounded lives made it a slow go, but then there was the trouble coming after Nevada, too. That added a good suspense element because the drug cartel played for keeps and she’d stolen their money and made them lose face. Nevada and Joseph are so great together. Sometimes the chemistry is there, but now and then I get a story, like this one, where the author fills it all in and shows the rest of the romance from friendship, to understanding, to working on life’s struggles together is all there as well. Joseph wore down her stubbornness because he knew she was worth it and she was game to take on a man from a different way of life and his dreams.
So, all in all, this was a fab hard-fought contemporary western romance that I can definitely recommend even while I can guarantee that I’ll be back for more Chestnut Creek series.
My thanks to Forever for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
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