Second Chance Cowboy (Crossroads Ranch #1) - A.J. Pine
My Review - 4 Stars
I first encountered AJ Pine through her fantastic Kingston Ale House series. I did not guess she'd follow it with a contemporary cowboy romance. Going from Chicago to California wine country cowboys? After reading Second Chance Cowboy, Pine made a believer out of me.
Jack is headed back to his small ranching hometown for his dad's funeral. To say Jack has complicated feelings about being home is an understatement. It was interesting to see the roles each Everett boy plays and what their dynamic is like as adults as Jack reconnects with them.
Into that mix comes Ava, Jack's first love and the girl who broke his heart. It turns out they have a 10 year old son together and she never told him she was pregnant. It's heartbreaking but her reasons were valid. But now Jack has to figure out how he feels about having a son and what his role will be.
Jack is off kilter but he's such a good guy. He's always looking out for other people. Part of that is because of how he shielded his brothers from their dad's abuse and part of that is because he believes he owes them a debt for leaving town. He lives on the bare minimum so he can send money to help with the ranch. He doesn't believe he deserves better and oh was this hard to see.
Ava's life has been put on hold in many ways. She loves being a mom but she wants to rely less on her parents and start pursuing her art again. She's such a strong, generous woman and I loved how she tried to balance taking care of the people in her life. She has plenty of reasons for keep Jack at arms length, chief among them that he's just going to leave again. But these two have never gotten over each other.
I loved how they got to know one another again. It's not always easy- the question of what Jack will do about Owen always hangs between them- but it's clear they still have feelings. They also have big issues to work through. Jack needs to deal with his past and confront his fears about being like his dad. Ava needs to own up to how she lied to Jack and caused him to miss ten years of Owen's life. Ava and Jack are able to tell each other hard truths and they're better for it.
I struggled with how much time Ava, Jack, and Owen spent together without Owen knowing Jack's relationship to him. You just know it's not going to end well. I also really struggled with Ava's dad. He was a real jerk, almost over the top. I didn't understand his logic at all and it just pissed me off anytime he was on the page. But it was gratifying to see Ava finally stand up to him.
I adored Jack's brothers Walker and Luke. I cannot wait to see what happens in their books! There's so much promise with the ranch and vineyard settings. I also loved Aunt Jenna and I've already asked Pine to give Jenna her own HEA. She deserves it and then some.
This was such a sweet, fun read and I'm looking forward to seeing how the series develops. Bring on the cowboys!
$50 Amazon Gift Card!!!
Once a cowboy, always a cowboy
Ten years ago, Jack Everett left his family's ranch without a backward glance. Now, what was supposed to be a quick trip home for his father's funeral has suddenly become more complicated. The ranch Jack can handle---he might be a lawyer, but he still remembers how to work with his hands. But turning around the failing vineyard he's also inherited? That requires working with the one woman he never expected to see again.
Ava Ellis broke her own heart the night she let Jack go. She was young and scared---and secretly pregnant with Jack's baby. Now that he's back and asking for her help, Ava sees her opportunity to right the wrongs of the past. But how will he feel about the son he's never known? Could this be their second chance---or their final heartbreak?
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Disclosure: I received an advance copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Affiliate links included in this post.