Author: Julia Talbot
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
[xrr rating= 4.5/5]
Rodeo cowboy Frost Barton spends most of his time on tour, and that’s the way he likes it. But when his dad dies suddenly, Frost returns to southern New Mexico to attend the funeral and help his mom decide what to do with their small family ranch. Frost is already considering retiring from bull riding and planting his itchy feet in the ground. Meeting horse trainer Matt Morales just adds another pull in that direction, though Frost still isn’t sure he’s ready to give up the circuit—even if Matt makes settling down look mighty tempting.
Matt is old enough to know better, but he falls for Frost anyway. They only have so much time to spend together before Frost goes back on tour, but Matt believes they might have something special. He keeps the home fires burning while Frost earns his living, but Matt hopes he can convince Frost to come home—to stay.
I haven’t read much of Julia Talbot’s work but I enjoy getting a good cowboy fix now and then, and this was a treat. It’s part of a series but worked just fine as a standalone. Set in New Mexico ranch country, I got a great sense of place and small-town flavor. Frost is a bull rider, which conflicted with his parents hopes and now his dad has suddenly passed away. Home for the funeral, he meets Matt, a local rancher who also helped out Frost’s family. Matt rescues Frost after a bar dust-up, helps buffer some of the head butting between Frost and his mom and the two spend time together, in bed and out, until Frost has to return to rodeo competition. The “will-he or won’t-he” question drove the plot line.
Told in third person, I appreciated the alternating POV’s and seeing the relationship from both sides. The scenes at the rodeo were written to easily allow a novice to understand what was happening. It’s a short novella but provides a well-characterized, fully developed story, something I don’t always find outside of novels. It was a simpler storyline but a refreshing, no-angst romance, western style. Getting to an HEA wasn’t easy and tense scenes with a jealous ex and the dangers of bull-riding, kept the action moving. It’s a sweet, fast read, recommended for any cowboy and rodeo lovers!