The Cowboy’s Return
by Jamie Dallas
Release Date: September 28, 2021
Publisher: Tule Publishing
Book #2 in The Hartman Brothers series
Number of pages: 214
Source: ARC from publisher
Ages 16 and up
Colton Hartman hung up his spurs at eighteen vowing never to return home. Years later, he comes back for his father’s funeral determined to sell his one-third share of the family ranch. Except his irritable, unappeasable father threw one last curveball—to inherit, he and his brothers have to live together on the ranch for a year. The ranch needs massive repairs on a tight budget and even tighter timeline, and the best contractor in Garnet Valley is unfortunately the one woman who never wants to see him again.
August “Gus” Jones is determined to prove she’s ready to take over her father’s struggling construction firm. Which means she can’t turn down the lucrative Hartman Ranch job, even though the man hiring her is Colton Hartman, the man who disappeared after she declared her love and broke her heart.
As Colton once again works the ranch, the attraction between him and Gus quickly flames. Can she convince this stubborn cowboy that this time love is worth sticking around for?
I hate to say this, but I felt like this book was written by a completely different author than the writer of the first book in this series. I thoroughly enjoyed the writings style and chemistry in The Best Man’s Bride. Here, not so much.
There was never really a point in this story where I found myself with butterflies, warm-fuzzies, or anything of the sort. I think that had a lot to do with the character of Colton. While I didn’t dislike him, he wasn’t a very sympathetic character. The reasons he left Montana and never came back all those years ago make sense, but there was nothing in the writing that made me feel it was as bad as what was being laid out. There is a lot of telling and not showing when it comes to Colton, his father, and his brothers.
It’s not all Colton’s fault I wasn’t more immersed in the story though. I am a timeline stickler. I know this is a thing that bugs me that doesn’t necessarily bother other readers so I try to rate accordingly when there’s a slip or two. This book is all over the place. The timeline is incredibly skewed from the very beginning. When it’s this messed up it’s not something I can let slide. I know it’ll be an issue for other readers and not just for my picky brain.
It doesn’t help that there is way too much going on. Gus is trying to prove herself to her father to take over the family business, Gus is trying to win a big bid for the company, Gus is volunteering for the town dance to prove herself, Gus is taking on the job at the Hartman ranch to prove herself, Colton has a brother he didn’t know anything about, Colton is needed in San Francisco but is being forced to stay in Montana, Colton’s business is having financial problems, Colton used to love working with the horses but left that behind, and so much more. It’s just too much and nothing is giving its fair due in this book. On top of all of that, we’re supposed to be rooting for a second-chance romance between Gus and Colton that is very hard to understand.
I realize that at this point that I’m bagging on this book, so I need to wrap things up. Obviously, I liked it enough to continue reading. Some of that was because I just couldn’t believe that it wouldn’t turn around at some point since I loved the first book. I always try to give an author a fair shot when they are new to me. She’s 1 for 2 with me, with another story in this series on the way in a few months. If I have a chance, I believe I will read the next book. I can’t give up on this author yet.
**I received an ARC of this book courtesy of the publisher. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and given freely**