He's come back to Copper Ridge, Oregon, to keep a promise—even if it means losing his heart…
Putting down roots in Copper Ridge was never Alex Donnelly's intention. But if there's one thing the ex-military man knows, it's that life rarely unfolds as expected. If it did, his best friend and brother-in-arms would still be alive. And Alex wouldn't have inherited a ranch or responsibility for his late comrade's sister—a woman who, despite her inexperience, can bring tough-as-iron Alex to his knees.
Clara Campbell didn't ask for a hero to ride in and fix her ranch and her life. All she wants is the one thing stubborn, honorable Alex is reluctant to give: a chance to explore their intense chemistry. But Clara has a few lessons to teach him, too…about trusting his heart and his instincts, and letting love take him on the wildest adventure of all.
I waited to write this review hoping I would be a bit less emotional mess than I was when I finished the book, but I don't think there's hope for that. I absolutely loved Alex and Clara and their story to happily ever after. I think this is my favorite Copper Ridge novel, it just hit me in the core, and touched every single emotion on its way.
Alex Donnelly is a war veteran, the youngest brother in the dysfunctional Donnelly family. His parents did a number on him by the emotional neglect, and enforcing the thoughts of him not being enough, not being valued or cared for. His best friend died while they are deployed, and left the family ranch for Alex's care, to make sure his sister, Clara, will be set for life as the only surviving member of the family.
Clara Campbell (that last name with her eating habits is just perfect!) has lost every member of her family, yet she is surviving, barely functioning, yes, but continuing on. She has lived her life on the family ranch, teaching herself how to live, how to take care of herself and manage life with so much loss surrounding her. She is a virgin with limited life experience outside her safe circle, yet with a vast knowledge of life, loss, sorrow, and survival.
Her loneliness was heartbreaking, how death has taken everything dear to her, leaving her gasping. Yet I am not sure which is worse, her destiny, or the one of Alex's where his parents choose to leave him behind and ignore him instead. They have the feelings of solitude and survival as the common factor as other wise they are the complete opposite.
The amount of emotion the author has managed to fit on each page of the story blew me away. The feelings are raw and real, they are tense and bottomless. They are both broken inside, vulnerable under the tough exterior. They have hidden the burden of pain from the world with smiles but with each other, they find the courage and the challenge to be true to themselves acceptable.
I love how the story was built with long, deep, difficult conversations where the characters had a chance to air out their emotions, their disappointments, and triumphs of life. The conversations between Alex and Clara, the talks between Alex and his brothers, they go deep into their thoughts and feelings, to a mentally naked place where there's nothing left to hide. These characters truly get to know each other, giving a solid foundation to built their relationships on, instead of just being present, or physically satisfying their needs. They are able and willing to do the hard things to heal, to grow, and to find their peace and place in life.
The story is not all angst and tears, it is well built with a balance of dark and light. There are joy and cheer, there are moments of laughter, amusing banter, brotherly love, and passion and tenderness between a woman and a man. Yet instead of going overboard with sexual tension, the author goes deep and exposes all the difficult, hurtful inner thoughts and emotions, giving the story beautiful depth and graceful character development. Wild Ride Cowboy is easily one of my favorite stories from 2017
~ Five Spoons