Title: The Second Time Around
Author: Rowan McAllister
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Length: 200 Pages
At a Glance: The Second Time Around will absolutely fulfill any itch a reader who is in search of a solid cowboy romance might have. It just lacked a bit of in depth character development that would have pushed this into the great novel category I know this author is capable of delivering.
Reviewed By: Sammy
Blurb: Though born into wealth and privilege, Jordan Thorndike can’t keep pretending. He’s never going to become the lawyer his parents hope for or provide the daughter-in-law and two-point-four grandkids they expect. Faced with an ultimatum—carry on living the lie or get out—Jordan leaves with only what he can pack in his BMW. Homeless, jobless, directionless, Jordan heads to one of his mother’s pet charities: Better the Second Time Around Rescue Ranch. With his family name and charm, he has the staff eating out of his hand in no time—except for one man. Russ has never been handed anything, and he resents the spoiled rich brat using the ranch to live out a fantasy. Though Jordan is determined to prove himself to Russ through hard work, family and old wounds complicate matters. Will Jordan realize that what he sees as an escape is real life for most people? And can Russ accept that Jordan can grow—and that he wants him?
Review: The Second Time Around by Rowan McAllister is a bit of a May/December coupling complete with two deliciously flawed men and a sizzling attraction that catches them both by surprise. If you like the idea of cowboys in love, then saddle up because this story is for you.
Jordan had finally found the courage to stand up and declare both his sexuality and his loathing of the idea of becoming a lawyer to his ultra-rich, ultra conservative parents. His mother stood by, silently, as his father once more voiced his disappointment in Jordan and summarily cut him off financially. The kind of wealth Jordan once had at his fingertips was suddenly gone, leaving him with a ridiculously expensive sports car and one private bank account with a few thousand in it. With no real plan or destination in mind, Jordan leaves his home and starts driving only to end up at the small rescue ranch that his family had often visited when he was a young boy. The ranch was one of his mother’s charitable babies, and Jordan was remembered fondly by Phyllis, the woman who runs it.
Jordan is not opposed to hard work; in fact, he welcomes it mainly so he doesn’t have to examine the wreck his personal life has become. But years of repressing who he really is and of hearing the constant recriminations from his emotionally distant father have taken their toll on him, and he is a mess both mentally and physically. Barely able to eat, Jordan worries not only Phyllis but the other ranch hands as well—all but Russ, who has put the man down as nothing more than a spoiled rich brat who he’d like to see leave as soon as possible. But that quiet loathing Russ feels actually masks a deeper feeling of attraction, and when Russ and Jordan finally have it out, Russ realizes he has not only misjudged Jordan but he also wants him in his bed for as long as Jordan is willing to stay.
Author Rowan McAllister knows how to write solid characters who pique the interest of a reader, immediately. You are instantly drawn to Jordan not only because he is in obvious pain over the loss of his family but because he has a history that is constantly hinted at in this novel. He’s been in therapy—it’s obvious he and his father have issues and that his mother doesn’t like to rock the marital boat and, therefore, never stands up for any of her children. But then this idea of what seems to be anorexia, or at least an unhealthy preoccupation with staying thin and, thereover, desirable, is waved in front of us over and over as Jordan grapples with actually eating and often vomiting after he manages to do so. Over and over in this story little tidbits of a sad and repressive past life are brought up, but we never actually get the real picture of what Jordan’s life was like prior to his being kicked out of his home.
Unlike Jordan, we get much more about Russ and his history in dribs and drabs as it fits in the overall plot. I felt in many ways we got to see the underbelly of the older man rather than the young guy this story was primarily about. Don’t get me wrong, there was much to like about this story and, as usual, this author creates a beautiful panoramic picture of the ranch and the life Jordan is now leading. The descriptive passages about the rescue ranch itself, and even the animals they were rehabilitating, was both lovely and interesting to read. The sexual tension between Jordan and Russ, coupled with the slow-burning realization of their deeper feelings for each other, was spot on and compelling. But still, this story seemed incomplete for me, particularly the end, where the rather quick resolution to a surprise appearance by a former ranch hand and his link to Russ seemed very forced.
I wish the author had explored what made Jordan tick just a bit more. I got his pain and the hold his father’s constant grinding past criticisms had over Jordan. This was an emotionally abused young man and after Russ gets his head out of his ass, so to speak, he goes a long way in helping Jordan see himself as he really is rather than the failure his father had convinced him he was. Perhaps I am looking for some depth to Jordan that was not there, but the little hints the author drops about this guy would indicate that more was needed in order for him to be a fully fleshed out character.
The Second Time Around will absolutely fulfill any itch a reader who is in search of a solid cowboy romance might have. It is a lovely story about healing and new beginnings. For me, it just lacked a bit of in depth character development that would have pushed this into the great novel category I know this author is capable of delivering.
You can buy The Second Time Around here:
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