Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Love can heal the deepest wounds…
The death of a brother and a father in prison bring a soldier home. Sgt. Calvin Tripplehorn had every intention of making the army his career and never returning home. But duty and obligation calls when he receives notice that his brother has died, leaving his mother unable to cope. However, returning home brings up all the old problems and issues that sent Tripp into the Army in the first place.
Tripp hates returning to his New Mexican home, a place where the name Tripplehorn means hate, pain, and general ill will, mostly due to his crazy father who burned people’s homes and businesses to the ground and destroyed lives all around him. It doesn’t help that one of the people who picks him up at the airport is gorgeous and flirty…that is until Tripp’s last name is mentioned.
Cowboy Lucho Reyes is returning to work at the J-Bar Ranch after an injury sent him to the town’s clinic. On the way back they pick up a soldier returning home and Lucho thinks the gorgeous vet is everything he has been looking for. Until he hears the soldier’s name. Tripplehorn. The family of drug dealing bigots who burned his family’s restaurant to the ground causing the death of the his grandfather. He hates the Tripplehorns, they are nothing but trouble. But there’s something different about Calvin.
In need of employment, Tripp is hired at the J-Bar Ranch, a dream he had as a child and now the home of a man Tripp finds irresistable, if only Lucho will give him a chance to prove he’s not his father’s son.
My Cowboy Homecoming is the third book in Z. A. Maxfield’s The Cowboys series. And while it was the first I have read of the three books published, My Cowboy Homecoming was so endearing and enjoyable that it will send me back to read the first two stories to see what I have missed.
Having started here at the third book, I liked that I didn’t feel that I was lacking anything as far as background or information. Z. A. Maxfield nicely filled in all the important details from the previous stories and series foundation, so I was able to read and delve into the plot as it unfolded without feeling there were gaps missing in everyone’s back history.
There is so much to love here starting with the J-Bar Ranch itself, owned and operated by a gay couple, Speed Malloy and Crispin Carrasco, and another gay pairing, Jimmy Rafferty and Eddie as ranch hands. It’s truly a different sort of place, complete with three-legged dogs and rescue horses in need of therapy and retraining. That’s where Lucho’s injury comes in, while trying to help a newly arrived abused horse. Element upon delightful element is added to help add dimension and realism to a story that has go much heart and pain packed into it.
The beginning is simple enough. A soldier arrives home after leaving the service so he can help out his family. But what follows is anything but simple.
Tripp is arriving home to see his mother, his brother has died, his father in prison and there is no one at the airport to welcome him or pick him up. Immediately the atmosphere changes into something dark. He’s picked up by two ranch hands from the J-Bar as a favor but what starts off as a welcome helping hand turns bitter as soon as Tripp’s name is revealed. From then on out, Z.A. Maxfield’s cowboy drama rolls out a series of past abuses and terrors delivered by the Tripplehorn men (Tripp excluded) upon the community.
It’s a horrific little journey into everyone’s past, including Lucho’s, and we start to see two different perspective on Tripp’s family and the dynamics that caused Tripp to flee into the Army. Maxfield doesn’t dump all the pain and angst on the reader at once, instead it is doled out, the facts and emotions building up to a painful picture of an abusive, racist father who did his best to control his brood and wife and is still trying to do so from his prison cell.
Tripp’s mother is a character most if not all readers will love to hate. Her weakness is frustrating, her actions lamentable, and her inability to act on her own behalf or her son’s removes most of the compassion a reader is inclined to award her. Men are her backbone and she has found another support system in her husband’s sleazy lawyer. I think most of the reader’s frustration will stem from Tripp’s actions towards his mother. A war seasoned veteran who turns so passive and ineffectual when it comes to interacting with his past and his mother. This section of the story could easily turn off the reader if the author had not done such a great job in laying the foundation for this mother/son dynamic and using it for further actions down the road. Great job all around.
The highlight of this story, of course, is the hot, sexy and actually sweet romance that springs up between Lucho and Tripp. It’s one tough road to romance for both men, and the joy and heart of this story is watching them fall into love and work hard to make their relationship work. It will involve Lucho’s family, one abused horse, and the support of those around them at the J-Bar Ranch. Maxfield brought the characters from the previous stories (Malloy and Crispin, Jimmy and Eddie) into My Homecoming Cowboy so I am hopeful that any future stories will bring us up to date on Lucho and Tripp’ relationship. Plus I want to know if Crispin succeeds in bringing ostriches onto the ranch!
Did I love this story? You betcha! Tripp and Lucho were so easy to take to heart and from the small interactions I saw between the other characters were enough to make me want to know their stories as well.
If you love your cowboys and romance, this is the story for you. It’s probably even the series for you. It has drama, angst, romance and animals whose characters are as quirky and endearing as the people they live with! It’s one of my recommended reads!
Cover artist did a great job. I love this cover.
ebook, InterMix eBook, 272 pages
Published December 2014 by Penguin Group (USA) LLC
seriesThe Cowboys #3