I have a deep abiding love for Westerns. Contemporary or Historical, I will give that book a chance. It’s the Cowboy factor for me. The tip of their brim, the “yes, ma’am,” the broken-in jeans hugging all the right places, could be the twang, and quite possibly all of the above. Harper Sloan dropped me into Texas and I could actually smell those bluebonnets and I actually wanted some pie and I hate pie! What I loved most about this book is that saga feeling. The meatiness of the story reminds me of the Travis books by Lisa Kleypas.
Maverick Davis is a bull rider. One of the best bull riders to be exact. After his last ride and being thrown so many times, his doctor urged him to find a new way of life. All Mav ever thought about was getting off his family’s ranch and riding. Maverick has an older brother, Clay, a younger sister, Quinn, and a mean drunk bastard of a father. Their mother ran away with a cowboy and never looked back. There are so many layers to this family’s dynamics it makes an onion look like an orange. Maverick has been spending his time in a drunken stupor, when he gets the call that his father is dead and he needs to come home. This is the last thing he needs right now, especially that he didn’t leave on the best of terms. Not so much with his siblings. But with the girl next door whose ranch borders the Davises’.
Leighton James thought the stars and the moon paled in comparison to Maverick. At a young age she spent a lot of time with the Davis clan, but her heart was deeply rooted to Maverick. In the last ten years that Maverick has been gone, she lost both parents in a car accident, opened up Piehole in honor of her mom, and she remained very close to Quinn and Clay, even taking care of their ailing father when she could – always with Maverick in the back of her mind and deeply rooted in her heart, but also understanding why he had to leave. Unfortunately, Mav also thought the best way to break it off clean was to completely break Leighton’s heart and, boy, did he ever.
Ms. Sloan does a superb job of switching between the past and the present at the beginning of the book. There is no doubt how much these two people truly care for one another. Leighton is the calm and safety in Maverick’s life and Maverick being Leighton’s everything. There is so much family drama to unload and it’s dark and ugly. Maverick is grumpy and quite often an asshole, but he has so many layers that is so well written that you know without a doubt there’s that goodness deep down that Leighton fell in love with. It’s just buried under bruises, lies, and a sense of not belonging.
Leighton has a great relationship with Quinn and the woman who works with her at the Piehole. With all the doom and gloom, they are a breath of fresh air and downright funny. They are Leigh’s support. The whole community as well. That’s another thing I love about this book. I’m sure in real life having everyone and their grandmother in on your business is a pain in the ass, but it works for me in my book world. There is not one word that is wasted on the page, every sentence and paragraph building a world that grabs you by your heartstrings and doesn’t let go.
“Yes, my hooha, as you so lovingly put it, is most definitely broken. Even I can’t get it to work because HE BROKE IT!” She starts laughing just as I finish. I should have known I would regret telling her all of that. She holds her hand up when it becomes clear that she can’t control her hilarity and just points behind me. I spin. Then die. “Now, I highly doubt I broke anything, but I would be more than willin’ to check, darlin’.” Oh, my God. Kill me now.”
Maverick makes it back for the funeral and he has a lot to make up for. Not only to his family but Leighton as well. When you read about their young love, you can feel it all the way to your toes, So when he strolls into that church and mistakes Leighton for a stranger and Clay’s girlfriend, the fireworks begin. Leighton is no longer that shy, unsure-of-herself sixteen year old. Leigh knocks him off his boots. The truth of the matter is they never stopped loving each other. That’s what makes this book so special. This book is 400 pages or so and I could have read another 400.
“It feels like heaven. That was the last thing I thought before a peace unlike anything I had ever felt washes over me and I fall asleep in his arms, the loneliness that had been dragging me down for so long lifting with each beat of his heart under my ear.”
Maverick sets out to win Leighton back and come to terms with his ghosts. Boy, oh boy, he doesn’t disappoint. Family secrets, dysfunction, abuse, love, second chances, and two characters who will forever take up space in your heart and in your mind. This is one of those books that you will re-read again and again. Everything I love about romance books in general is between these pages. That feeling when you read the very last page and take a moment to take it all in and sigh. That’s this book. Epic and timeless.
Maverick Austin Davis is forced to return home after a ten-year career as a rodeo star. After one too many head injuries, he’s off the circuit and in the horse farming business, something he’s never taken much of a shine to, but now that it’s his late father’s legacy, familial duty calls. How will Maverick find his way after the only dream he ever had for himself is over?
Enter Leighton Elizabeth James, an ugly duckling turned beauty from Maverick’s childhood—his younger sister’s best friend, to be exact, and someone whose heart he stomped all over when she confessed her crush to him ten years back. Now Leighton is back in Maverick’s life, no longer the insecure, love-stricken teen—and Maverick can’t help but take notice. Sparks fly between them, but will Leighton be able to open her heart to the one man who broke it all those years ago?
Read an excerpt.
Other books in this series: