This book starts off with a deep feeling of rodeo to it. Colton is returning home after some time on the rodeo circuit. He’s won money and buckles but he’s also sore from riding broncs. And much like those who live on the rodeo circuit he spends a lot of time away from home and family, for the rodeo is not just a passion but a way of life, those purses pay the bills and without them most cowboys would be broke and need to look for a job elsewhere. Leah is an old friend of Colton’s and also a one time barrel racer that used to hit many of the same rodeo’s that he did.
Their friendship has not been lost even though they haven’t seen each other for quite some time and there is some almost instant chemistry between the two. The ease of conversation and reliving some of their past rodeo achievements really gives you a sense of how important the rodeo is/was to Colton and Leah. There was also a hint of Colton hiding something from his family, which is why he’s working so hard to earn money through the rodeo’s and I was definitely curious to find out just what he had planned.
There was a good flow to the story, with the parts about the ranch and rodeo showing that the author either knew about those things from personal experience or had done her research, something that is important to books involving these settings. The characters had good development and they were very easy to get invested into. I liked that fact that she portrayed the young children well, picking up on all the various quirks that kids that age would do.
When Colton’s hidden secret was revealed I admit I was a bit shocked. I knew there was something significant he had been hiding from everyone but I had not expected that. It certainly changed a lot of things.
I’ll admit I didn’t like Leah’s mom one bit. She was certainly a good fit for the role of “bad guy” in this story but it also made me feel sorry for Leah having to deal with her mother. However, let’s face it, a story without some type of bad guy in it can be dull, so while she did a darn fine job of being a pain in Leha’s life she was a necessary evil for the story as a whole. In a way her actions really helped Leah move on and force herself to become more independent than before. I guess you could look at it as a very extreme case of tough love, but even that doesn’t excuse some of the things her mother did and said, especially to the kids. In the end though she did redeem herself and I appreciated her character and prior ways for that.
Overall this book was great. It had a deep family theme that is important to ranch setting stories, well developed characters, a good dose of ranch and rodeo life that was well explained and of course a great love story as well. I will definitely be looking to read the other books that link this families story together in the Harts of the Rodeo series.