Wild Horse Springs
By Jodi Thomas
Publisher: Harlequin HQN
Release Date: January 24, 2017
Some might describe Brandi Malone as a drifter as she moves from town to town, performing a couple of weeks in one place before she moves to the next. But Brandi knows she is running from an unbearable loss and from a family in which she was always a misfit. Dan Brigman makes her feel as if she really is the wild, free spirit that he believes her to be. Dan may be just what she needs for the moment, but she and Dan both know that what they are having is a fling not a relationship. However, things have a way of changing when hearts get involved.
Lauren Brigman feels like a failure at twenty-five. After law school, she turned to her dreams of writing rather than take the bar exam, but so far, she is a singularly unproductive writer. Her personal life is no more satisfactory. She has allowed her friends-with-benefits connection with life-long pal Tim O’Grady to continue more from inertia than from affection, and she knows Tim wants more than she can give him. Her heart has never forgotten Lucas Reyes, her first love, but they have lost touch. When Tim calls her with the news that their protégé, eighteen-year-old Thatcher Jones has been arrested, Lauren seizes the opportunity to go home to Crossroads to help Thatcher and to find herself.
Thatcher was only trying to help a little girl who was obviously in trouble, but he ended up in jail, placing the future his benefactors had helped him plan in jeopardy. As if that were not enough, he is kidnapped from his jail cell by the sleaze bags who think he saw too much when he followed the little girl home. Fighting his way free, he finds sanctuary in the home of Cody Winslow, a Texas Ranger and near legend.
Cody is in the hospital recovering from his effort to outrun the demons that have plagued him since the standoff with drug runners that left two of his closest friends dead and Cody on the inactive list. He almost accomplished on his wild night ride in a winter storm what the drug runners had failed to do, but Tess Adams, a Park ranger who was stargazing nearby with a troop of little girls, heard his curses and saved his life. Now Cody is claiming that Tess is his wife and Tess is wondering if that life sentence may be just what she wants most. But before these two can settle their future, they have to protect Thatcher from the thugs who are after him.
Wild Horse Springs is another ensemble romance from gifted storyteller Jodi Thomas. Fans of the Ransom Canyon series will be pleased to see series regular, good-guy sheriff Dan Brigman finally get a romance of his own. Dan’s relationship with Brandi is the central love story, and it develops in stolen moments woven among Dan’s professional duties. Dan and Brandi are older characters who have paid heavy dues, and they easily win the reader’s affection. They deserve their HEA. I only wish that it had been less abrupt and truncated. Cody and Tess are also engaging characters with the kind of quirky appeal that Thomas does so well. Tenderness and humor balance the tension in the relationships of both couples.
Lauren’s future is left open. Lucas is back, but it is unclear exactly where they stand. Whether her friendship with Tim can survive their time as lovers and Lauren’s rejection of him in that role is also unclear. Presumably readers will have answers to these questions as well as more about Thatcher in future novels in the series. The sixth book, Indigo Lake will be released July 18, 2017.
I am a huge fan of Jodi Thomas’s stories that suggest everyone, even the misfits, deserves love and happiness. I always fall in love with her characters who are never cookie-cutter types. Her strengths are clear in this book, but the ending just felt rushed and less satisfying than usual to me. I do recommend Wild Horse Springs to readers who like ensemble romances with a cast of memorable and different characters, but I don’t think this one is quite up to Thomas’s usual stellar work.
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