The first half or so of this book is an emotional sucker punch. It left me, dare I say, a bit wrecked. Even if emotional angst is your jam, have some tissues handy. However, all the pain is worth it as the authors slowly reveal the full story of estranged husbands Beckett and Skyler. The journey that unfolds is an epic second-chance romance. The love and attraction between Beck and Sky were never the problems. The inherent differences in the lifestyles of a lawyer and rodeo champion caused stress that finally fractured them. This book centers around their dramatic reconnection and eventual reconciliation, but it’s a raw, immersive experience that I couldn’t drag myself away from until the very end.
Payne and Tortuga balance plenty of emotions on all sides, from love to stubbornness to fear. Beck and Sky are incredibly three-dimensional characters, and it was easy to see and understand each of their perspectives on the situation. I appreciated that the “dark moment” wasn’t as intense as it could have been after the heaviness of the first half of this story. It was stressful enough as it was but did an excellent job of showcasing the character development of both men. I do wish that there’d been a bit more internal resolution on Beck’s side about an unfortunate anniversary wish, but I was too busy being emotionally destroyed by Sky’s attachment to a pillow to wish even more angst upon these men.
I know very little about rodeo itself, but I never felt like I missed out on anything important in this particular story with regards to that subject. As someone who doesn’t particularly seek out cowboy or sports romances, I’m still low-key obsessed with the rodeo riders portrayed by this amazing pair of authors.
I will definitely be checking out more of this duo’s “east + west” stand-alone novels. They have big boots to fill to measure up to Sky and Beck.