Series: Copper Ridge #6
Published by HQN Books on August 30th 2016
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The prodigal son of Copper Ridge, Oregon, has finally come home
The man who ruined Rebecca Bear's life just strolled back into it with one heck of an offer. Years ago, Gage West's recklessness left Rebecca scarred inside and out. Now he wants to make amends by gifting her the building that houses her souvenir store. Rebecca won't take Gage's charity, but she's willing to make a deal with the sexy, reclusive cowboy. Yet keeping her enemy close is growing dangerously appealing…
He's the wild West brother, the bad seed of Copper Ridge. That's why Gage needs the absolution Rebecca offers. He just didn't expect to need her. After years of regretting his past, he knows where his future lies—with this strong, irresistible woman who could make a black sheep come home to stay…
Maisey Yates does write well in fact and her illuminating way of teasing out complicated issues that can only come from family entanglements and unexpected connections forged in tragedy did strike a chord in me. Even so, I’m on the fence with this book not because of the very simple story – essentially a prodigal son returns after years in the wilderness of drifting and anonymous, casual sex to pick up a burden he’d spent years running away from carrying – but because of the characters who form the backbone of the entire story.
In short, this is a case where I liked the female lead, but found her counterpart sorely lacking in comparison.
Generally I thought Gage was a huge idiot and a coward, using every excuse to run under the guise of punishment, never really owning up to anything, not even when confronted with emotions that he can’t handle. Essentially, I found myself faced with an incredibly selfish ‘hero’ who tried to make amends while still doing everything to push people away, then chalked it all up to his daddy and mummy issues, all for a whopping 17 years. If that isn’t a blindingly obvious sign of idiocy and a general lack of self-awareness, I don’t know what is.
Rebecca’s growth is in contrast, tremendous, as she moved from anger to acceptance to forgiveness that it awed me in some parts. I loved her kickarse ways and all that she owns up to, even when it comes to facing the difficult decisions head on especially when it came to learning to lean on her friends and her brother more than she’d been already doing. But I did think she postured a little too much about her own re-evaluation of life and love because it was ultimately where the acid test of her relationship with Gage lay. It was obvious throughout (and somewhat heartbreaking to read as well) that Gage had always hidden behind layers she couldn’t breach and her attempts made me pity and admire her both, if that’s even possible. That Gage only hit that realisation about love and sacrifice so late somehow didn’t make him sufficiently worthy of all the precious things Rebecca had to offer.
As a result, it was hard to get into a relationship that felt so unbalanced for most of the story where one side held back everything up until the grand gesture (which also happened to be the abrupt, concluding bit before we slide into a far distant epilogue). But it was also because of the confusing, changing issues that started out with what looked like guilt, which then shifted to be more about yearning for love that his parents never gave. In the end, I couldn’t quite make head or tail of just what Gage was so screwed up about. So if this is a book about reparation, forgiveness and equality, I thought everything really came too little, too late.