The Blacksmith and the Ex-Con(Farthingdale Ranch #2) by Jackie North
One theme that became easily apparent among all three Farthingdale books is that each contains one man’s journey from an abusive, traumatic past into a new renewed bright future. His path , one we accompany him on, is marked by a series of obstacles of varying elements, from small sidesteps off the path to what might seem insurmountable boulders to scale before he can recover and get, along with his true love, their HEA.
As I’ve mentioned in my other reviews, I started with the third novel in the series, went back to the beginning, and now end here at The Blacksmith and the Ex-Con while I await the release of the next stories.
So I can say this is probably the one novel most guaranteed to bring out the sniffles, that box of Kleenex, and the carton of ice cream. With one spoon.
Because Ellis and his history is heartbreaking! What he’s been through, yes, including the extremely poor choices the man made himself and paid for, he’s in our hearts. From the minute we meet him, bloody, beaten, filled with fear, hearing his story….we’re connected to Ellis. Mute, brutalized from his time in prison,Ellis is perhaps the most broken of all the traumatized men we’ve met in all these stories.How could you not hurt for him?
Jackie North has written such a vulnerable, heartbreaking character here that you want to enfold him , wrap him up safely so as to keep him from further harm.
Jasper, our Blacksmith, who’s self isolated himself within his work and cabin has such tight boundaries to begin with. But from his past history , we understand what caused him to establish them to begin with…a need to protect himself. However nothing prepares him for Ellis. Jasper will come to feel that its Ellis who’s in need of protection and more. But it will take time and an adjustment of his mind and heart to get there. Something we get a window into.
Both men are incredibly complex, emotionally and mentally. Life has added so many more layers of trauma and pain filled history between them to navigate that each tentative movement towards each other is often over a minefield.
Yet in a small cabin by a slow flowing River it becomes a thing of physical poetry, raw and emotional and shy.
All interspersed with the heat of the forge, the stamp of horses hooves as they wait to be shod or for a carrot treat, or any of the other daily ranch duties scheduled that flows through their lives and story.
It’s a found family at this ranch and all the people there seamlessly move around this couple and on the ranch as to make the reader see and feel apart of a living, working guest ranch. And this amazing group of people.
When the showdown comes, and in the utter relief at the end , I was reflecting on how much Ellis and Jasper had been through and how far they had come, and us with them.
What a journey! I was almost crying. In joy. What a story and couple. I look forward to seeing more of them in future stories as I know I will.
Another true pleasure with this remarkable series. I highly recommend this and all the books in this series.
“If anybody ever needed him, Ellis did. Ellis was broken. Jasper liked to fix things.”
Jasper has the perfect life. He’s a blacksmith at a small guest ranch in Wyoming. The last thing he needs is to have that perfect life interrupted by a shifty-eyed ex-con, but the ranch needs the tax benefits the ex-con program will bring.
Traumatized by his time in prison, Ellis can barely speak. He’s about to be offered parole. He knows he will hate working on the guest ranch, but what other option does he have?
It’s not love at first sight. It’s not hate at first sight, either, but something in between.
A gay m/m cowboy romance with age gap, hurt/comfort, opposites attract, forced intimacy, emotional scars, trauma leading to mutism, grumpy/grumpy, and baths. A little sweet, a little steamy, with a guaranteed HEA
Need a new series to read and love? Start here. I’m recommending them all.
The Foreman and the Drifter #1
The Blacksmith and the Ex-Con #2
The Ranch Hand and the Single Dad #3
Coming Soon – The newest books in the Farthingdale Ranch Series! soon…..
The Wrangler and The Orphan #4
The Cook and the Gangster #5
The Trail Boss and the Brat #6