My rating: 4 stars / I really liked it
The prodigal son is back. Ever since the terrible mistake he made in high school—a mistake that cost his best friend his life—bullfighter Luke Starr has stayed far away from Pecan, Texas, and his family. But with his twin brothers gone on their respective honeymoons, Luke is forced to come back to town to watch over Gramma and the family ranch. And he can’t wait to leave again. Because being home hurts more than being stomped on by a bull—and it’s only a matter of time until he messes up all over again.
Special ed teacher Jess Sadler will do anything for her students—even abandon her comfort zone to convince a reluctant rodeo cowboy to give “horse lessons” to a student she can’t reach. But when feelings for Luke blindside Jess, she knows she’s in trouble. The man is counting down the minutes until he can leave Pecan. Will he take her heart with him when he goes?
Then a little boy goes missing on the family ranch, and Luke must confront the ghosts of his past or lose the future he never dreamed was possible.
There is instant attraction between Jess and Luke, but it is the compassion they show- even when it takes effort- that makes this story heartfelt. There is plenty of angst with Luke's overwhelming feelings of guilt that he faces being back home and interacting with the community he thinks blames and hates him. Dating Jess provides a bit of respite... until she tries to help him come to terms with his past. The horse lessons for her special charge gives them a connection he can't escape, and the miracle of progress they see in the child reinforces the importance of Jess's work and Luke's help. There is plenty of tension during the climax of hunting for the missing boy, but it is softened with Luke's healing experience and the decisions he makes for his future.
(Thank you to the author for a copy of the book; this is my honest review)