FicCentral received a free copy of this book from Harper Collins (via Edelweiss).
Series: Healing Harts #1
Publisher: Avon Impulse on April 28, 2015
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance (Adult)
If you could have anything, do anything… what would it be?
Jessie Hart has a soft spot for healing the broken, especially horses and children, but her business is failing and bankruptcy is looming. The one man who can save Heart Fire Ranch is the last man she wants to take advice from - financial expert Nathan Kerrington - the same man who broke her heart eight years ago.
Nathan Kerrington has it all, except the one thing he’d wanted most - Jessie. Now that he’s finally freed himself from his corrupt family, he wants to make amends. When he’s called in to save Jessie’s ranch, he sees his chance to win her back - if only he can prove to her that she can trust him with her heart…
This book includes mature subject matter that may not be appropriate for readers under the age of 18.
Since the death of her parents, Jessie’s been doing everything she can to turn the family’s dude ranch into the horse rescue facility she and her father dreamed of. But her best isn’t enough, and after letting all the help go, selling off what she could, and working as hard as she can every day, the operation is still hemorrhaging money. Desperate for a solution, her brother calls in his old roommate, a wealthy and successful financial analyst to help them get in the black again, but it’s not the perfect solution for Jesse that he thought it would be. There’s that never forgotten matter of the summer that same man stole Jesse’s heart and then shattered it…
After the awesomeness that was the Learning the Ropes series, you can bet I didn’t waste any time in trying to get my hands on the beginning of a brand new series by T.J. Kline, and I wasn’t disappointed.
Jessie’s a bit of a bleeding heart when it comes to animals and kids, and it’s a trait she shares with her late father. While her parents made a success of their property as a dude ranch, giving city slickers a taste of country life for a week or two, the hope was that they would be able to move into the more meaningful work of rescuing abused and neglected horses. However, Jessie’s parents were killed in an accident, leaving the ranch and property to her and her siblings, and while each has different interests and responsibilities, they’re all too attached to let the ranch fail. But as time goes by, Jessie takes in more and more horses, not to mention at-risk teenagers who find something good in being responsible for neglected animals, and the ranch sinks further and further into the red. Her brother’s finally had enough and calls in his old college roommate, a man who turned his back on the family years ago, to help.
Nathan’s never forgotten Jessie, and it still pains him that he left like he did. He was her first real love, and after promising to keep in touch, he simply vanished back into the city, never to be seen or heard from again until now. What Jessie doesn’t realize is that Nathan abandoned their relationship to protect her family, but even to him, his reasoning seems flawed in hindsight. Now it’s all he can do to get her to speak to him, but it goes without saying that he wants quite a bit more than a little talk.
The chemistry between these two is tangible, but so is the pain and grief that Jessie’s been harboring since the day she realized he was never going to call her. Getting past that, even while knowing he’s not at the ranch for long, is a rough process, made even more difficult by her inability to figure out which man Nathan is — the one ready with kindness and affection or the one who lives a life of luxury in the big city, never really caring about those “beneath” him.
If you ask me, Nathan’s excuse for dropping Jessie all those years ago is pretty weak, but that can almost be overlooked due to his father’s position and his own young age at the time. It’s pretty clear that his dad is a complete scumbag, but how many of us were really ready to stand up completely to our parents and make our own way when we were in college? Given what his father is capable of, it’s little wonder that Nathan gave up his own happiness and risked Jessie’s fragile heart in order to shelter her from what life in corrupt and wealthy circles could bring. Watching them come back together was a one step forward and two steps back kind of thing, but that’s what kept it grounded and believable.
The one thing I do wish there was more of was the horses and teens Jessie was trying to help. They were introduced, and it was clear they were her calling, but it felt a little like they were forgotten in favor of the reawakened romance with Nathan. I would have liked to have seen them play a bigger role instead of being relegated to the background like they were.
In any case, Heart’s Desire is another excellent country romance from T.J. Kline, sure to appeal to just about anyone who has a thing for men in cowboy boots. The lifestyle and setting is once again genuinely portrayed, adding something significant to the story, and of course, the characters are just as wonderful as always. If Wranglers, Ariat, and Tony Lama mean something to you (or if you just like hot cowboys in tight jeans), start making room for this series on your shelf.