Series: Coming Home #1
Published by Pocket Books on April 25th 2017
Buy on Amazon
Maverick Austin Davis is forced to return home after a ten-year career as a rodeo star. After one too many head injuries, he’s off the circuit and in the horse farming business, something he’s never taken much of a shine to, but now that it’s his late father’s legacy, familial duty calls. How will Maverick find his way after the only dream he ever had for himself is over?
Enter Leighton Elizabeth James, an ugly duckling turned beauty from Maverick’s childhood—his younger sister’s best friend, to be exact, and someone whose heart he stomped all over when she confessed her crush to him ten years back. Now Leighton is back in Maverick’s life, no longer the insecure, love-stricken teen—and Maverick can’t help but take notice. Sparks fly between them, but will Leighton be able to open her heart to the one man who broke it all those years ago?
This was diverting in a way I’d never expected. And a good thing too, considering my own suspicions of second-chance stories where a protagonist always seems to come out with the shorter end of the stick than the other.
‘Lost Rider’ is a full-blown cowboy drama of a broken man who returns home after a decade on the bull-riding circuit at the request of his siblings. But Maverick Davis is also facing a time of reckoning when he returns. Firstly, to apologise for the bastardly-behaviour that he’s been exhibiting for years towards the woman he’d proclaimed to love but left cruelly by the wayside and secondly, to confront his own demons and daddy-issues that have kept him away. The former is as hard as the latter, particularly when the woman in question doesn’t give him the time of day. Yet Leighton’s and Mav’s chemistry is as strong as ever and the lust that zings between them is bodice-ripper worthy.
And once I started, I couldn’t stop.
It’s akin to watching a soap that you can’t tear your eyes away from: there’s always someone yelling, shouting or screaming, with extra-dramatic outbursts of emotions and thick Texas twangs that make you wonder about the era you’re in. I loved the explosive conflicts that took place for the first half of the book and was in fact, gratified to see that once both Mav/Leighton decided that they were all in, they did go all the way to support each other and move on as much as they could. The typical last conflict that tends to tear a couple apart doesn’t happen here at all, and Harper Sloan simply expands the drama to encompass the family, who, by the end of the book, form a more cohesive unit because of Mav’s revelations.
I have to say that I mostly enjoyed it all (some cheesy lines aside), and that’s primarily because Sloan makes her characters ask the right and the difficult questions that are befitting of a second-chance romance. Would Maverick even return had he not heard of his father’s death? Was he only doing this because his career had ended – and he was left with no choice but for seek out an alternative? Was Leighton someone he got back together with coincidentally only because he returned? The answers aren’t always forthcoming, but they do come in the end and the long, long dialogues at least reflect the depth of conflict that I fully expect when this trope is employed.
‘Lost Rider’ starts the Davis family on the road to healing, though it’s far from over and for that I’m bloody happy. I do think Sloan has hit all the right notes here and it’s a series that I think I can really get into, as long as the drama stays on the side of sane.