Title: The Cowboy Comes Home
Author: Patricia Thayer
Bk 1 in the Larkville Legacy Series
May Contain Spoilers
Single mom Jess Calhoun had learned the hard way not to trust a man in a Stetson; her young son’s dad was long gone. But that doesn’t stop Jess from noticing good-lookin’, sweet-talkin’ cowboy Johnny Jameson swagger into town. He’s as wild and untamed as the stallions he trains.
The attraction between them is as fiery as a Texan summer and Johnny finds himself questioning whether he could finally put down roots—in Larkville, a place where two very special people have taken hold of his heart.
When I finished The Cowboy Comes Home, the only thing I could think was “Darn you, Harlequin!!” Why? It’s the first book in the Larkville Legacy series, and being anal about reading series, I now want to read the rest of the books. When I decided to read this title, I was not aware that it is part of a series; instead, I saw the happy family enjoying a trail ride together and I just had to read it. The hero is a horse trainer (wait, didn’t I just read a HQ Blaze about a horse trainer?!), and the heroine has a shop that sells baked goods (wait! Didn’t that same HQ Blaze feature a heroine who is a cook?). Despite these similarities, the books are nothing alike.
Jess is a single mom, and she is still grieving the death of her father, a wealthy rancher. Her brothers and sister are off doing their own thing, so she is temporarily in charge of the Double Bar C, even though she doesn’t want to run the ranch. She has a business of her own to fret about, and having a young son keeps her on her toes. When Johnny Jameson swaggers to town, she’s a bit dismayed. She is instantly attracted to this sexy cowboy, and her son, Brady, takes a shine to him too. After having her heartbroken and being left pregnant by her ex boyfriend, she has sworn off of cowboys. They never stay in one place for long, and she knows that once Johnny finishes training Storm, the horse her father had so many hopes pinned on, he’ll be gone too. Johnny’s motto is that all he needs is his truck, trailer, and his horse, and he’s a happy guy. He moves from one training job to the next, never staying in one place for longer than he has to. Once he’s finished training, he’s gone, and he doesn’t see that ever changing.
I found Johnny an interesting character because he is carrying around so much baggage. It’s a good thing he has that horse trailer, because he needs the extra room to drag his unhappy past around with him. He never knew his father, and his efforts to track him down yielded nothing. The older man wanted nothing to do with his son, and every lead Johnny followed to find him ended in a dead end. His mother wandered from town to town, never staying in one place for long. When she settled down with a man who beat her, Johnny had had enough. He packed his meager belongings and hit the road at 14 and never returned. The kindness of an old horse trainer gave him the skills he needed to feed himself, and he has made a name for himself because of his gift with horses.
Jess is reluctant to give in to her attraction for Johnny, and with a young child to care for, her reluctance made perfect sense. Brady misses his grandfather terribly, and with her brothers gone, there are no other men in Brady’s life. When he sets aside his fear of horses and asks Johnny to teach him how to ride, Jess realizes how much her son needs a stable man in his life, which makes her even more wary of her feelings for Johnny. He is a sexy, charming guy, though, and soon both of them are in over their heads, and while Jess has accepted that he won’t be there for long, the reality of him packing up and high-tailing it out of town tears both her and Brady into pieces. Dumb cowboy! You promised to help the kid with his mutton bustin’! So much for the cowboy code!
I enjoyed this very quick read and found the resolution very satisfying. The last chapter was perfect, in fact, and had me convinced that Jess, Johnny, and Brady will all have a HEA. Now, let me get back to the darn you, Harlequin bit. The epilogue came out of nowhere for me, because I don’t really pay attention to plot descriptions, and I don’t find that Harlequin communicates effectively when they introduce most of their series. They just put a little graphic on the cover, which I don’t always see because I read all of their titles digitally. The covers are all pretty generic, and I don’t pay much attention to them (unless there is a horse on the cover, which guarantees that I will add it to my wish list) . So when I read the epilogue, and it ended on a bit of a cliffhanger, I was compelled to immediately purchase Slow Dance with the Sheriff, even though I won’t be able to read it for a while. So, I guess Harlequin’s devious plan to make me purchase more of their books worked – AGAIN! I especially enjoy their series that span several months and have several authors contributing titles to the continuity. I am thinking of tackling The Harts of the Rodeo, too, which is being released under the Harlequin American Romance line. Have you read any multi-author series? Would you recommend any?
Review copy provided by publisher
Here is a list of the entire Larkville Legacy series, in order by release month. I plan to read at least through October, because I am familiar with the authors.
The Cowboy Comes Home by Patricia Thayer – JULY
Slow Dance with the Sheriff by Nikki Logan – AUGUST
Taming the Brooding Cattleman by Marion Lennox – SEPTEMBER
The Rancher’s Unexpected Family by Myrna Mackenzie – OCTOBER
His Larkville Cinderella by Melissa McClone – NOVEMBER
The Secret that Changed Everything by Lucy Gordon – DECEMBER
The Soldier’s Sweetheart by Soraya Lane – JANUARY
The Billionaire’s Baby SOS by Susan Meier – FEBRUARY
Here are all of the covers –