Rating: 3 stars out of 5
Can two men keep a childhood promise for marital bliss?
Wyatt is overwhelmed after his grandfather dies, leaving him to take over the cattle ranch. The Triple J is floundering, vandals are targeting him, and his first and only love is finally within reach–and still holding a grudge. Wyatt has wanted to marry Diego since they made a childhood pact, but Diego isn’t back for their second chance.
When a funeral calls Diego back to Texas, he comes face-to-face with the cowboy who broke his heart. Resentment has burned inside him for years, but his anger wavers as he realizes just how much Wyatt is struggling to keep his head above water. The man he once loved is lonely and burdened, and Diego feels compelled to help him rediscover the strong, capable rancher he knows him to be.
Hostility gives way to passion, then friendship as they fall into a rhythm of work and sex. Wyatt has renewed hope he might wrangle the man he wants to be his groom. But Diego has a life waiting for him one thousand miles away, and love may not be enough to prevent history from repeating itself.
The beginning of this book – with Wyatt and Diego as children making a pact to marry each other when they are 25 – is adorable and was my favorite scene. They are both six year old, both living on Wyatt’s Granddad’s ranch as Diego’s father was a foreman. After seeing Granddad kissing Mrs. Fletcher, they make a blood swear that they will just marry each other.
Except life isn’t that easy, of course. When the two best friends turn into more, Granddad is a homophobe and he puts pressure on Wyatt – break it off with Diego or lose the inheritance. Wyatt chooses the ranch, figuring it will just take a little time for Granddad to come around and accept them and he and Diego can be together again. But Diego leaves, hurt at not being first for Wyatt and doesn’t return until Granddad’s funeral six years later. He hasn’t responded to any of Wyatt’s letters, either and carries that resentment with him.
And there is where I had some trouble with the book. Right in the beginning Diego himself admits that while Wyatt did hurt him, it was both he and Granddad who pushed Wyatt to choose between them. And he admits, “Maybe it’s time to go home” when he finds out Granddad as passed away. Wyatt is now in charge of the ranch and has been struggling. He has been the victim of homophobic vandalism, crew leaving now that Granddad wasn’t there to back him up and a cattle ranch that is too much work for the few people left on it.
They do get past the majority of outright hostility and start sleeping together and working on a plan for rejuvenating the ranch, which desperately needs help. The anger Diego carries comes through over and over again and sometimes I wanted Wyatt to just get up and leave – have some self-respect!
So I was expecting a reconciliation, some apologies and for Diego to jump in and help. Some of that happens – Diego does help but he has such an attitude for most of it and seriously the way he treats Wyatt just ticked me off. The man hurt you, I get that, and he’s apologized repeatedly. If you can’t accept that, that’s okay but then move on. They have sex repeatedly with Diego pushing Wyatt away after.
Wyatt is in a vulnerable place and really wants Diego to be with him. In a letter to Diego (which was never acknowledged) Wyatt writes “I never thought the day you left that I would go so long without a word from you. I hurt you. I own that and I’m sorry for it… Come home for a day, for a week, forever.” So Diego knows how Wyatt feels and while I felt for Diego, “Wyatt had made his choice a long time ago, and it hadn’t been Diego”, I felt he was dragging things out. He is all about just sex, even knowing Wyatt wants more. Just FYI, there is a lot of sex in this book.
I like many of DJ Jamison’s books but this one missed the mark for me a bit and honestly, mainly it was due to Diego. The writing is consistent and flowed well, if sometimes it felt a little dragged on.
The cover design by Garrett Leigh, which I assume is Wyatt in an open shirt and cowboy hat, is a little generic looking and didn’t do much for me.
Kindle Edition, 305 pages
Published October 10th 2019 by Amazon Digital Services
Edition Language English
Series Marital Bliss #2