Title: The Sweet Spot by Laura Drake
Sweet on a Cowboy Book One
Publisher: Hachette Book Group/Grand Central Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 324 pages
Book Rating: A
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
A Love as Big as Texas . . .
Charla Rae Denny was the perfect wife with a perfect life, content to keep the home fires burning while her husband, JB, competed as a champion bull rider. Then their son died in a tragic accident-and everything fell apart. Divorced and saddled with a hill of bills and a failing ranch, Charla must now cowboy up to put her life back together.
James “JB” Denny doesn’t stay where he isn’t welcome. So when Charla shut him out of her grieving heart-and their home-a year ago, he took comfort where he could find it. Now after seeing beautiful Charla again, he wants it all back. She can’t work the ranch alone, and deep in his heart he knows he can be the man she needs. But after so much history and heartbreak, can JB convince Charla to take a risk and give their love a second chance?
More than a love story, Laura Drake’s The Sweet Spot is an emotional journey of forgiveness. This deeply moving novel will make you laugh, cry and ultimately rejoice as JB and Charla Rae Denny find their way back to one another after tragedy tears them apart.
Grief and loss can either bring a couple closer together or tear them apart and in the case of JB and Charla Rae, their marriage could not withstand the loss of their son, Benje. Now divorced, Charla Rae and JB’s paths still cross on a regular basis as they handle the day to day business of their bucking bull business. Still angry with JB over his affair, Charla lashes out and forbids JB to return to the ranch to take care of the bulls. With no one to lean on, will Charla find the strength she needs to keep their struggling business from failing while caring for her ailing father?
The Sweet Spot opens about a year after Benje’s death and both Charla and JB are at pretty low spots in their lives. Charla is addicted to Valium and makes it through each day in a drug induced fog. JB’s affair is long over and he is coming to the realization that he is the poster child for a middle aged crisis. When things come to a head between them, Charla and JB realize it is time to make some much needed changes in their lives.
Charla finally comes to terms with her addiction when she is forced to take care of the ranch chores and take a more active role in the bucking bull business. Always content to let life happen to her, Charla finally stands on her own two feet and faces down adversity one challenge at a time. She gradually begins to come out of her grief and as she gains confidence, Charla recognizes that she pushed JB away long before their marriage officially ended. Wary of getting hurt again, Charla continues to keep JB at arm’s length. But as time passes, Charla begins to see traces of the old JB and she slowly lets him back in her life and her heart.
JB is genuinely remorseful for hurting Charla but it takes serious introspection on his part before he realizes what motivated his affair. He is lost without Charla and her father, but he knows he is going to have to work to regain her trust. JB quickly recognizes Charla’s newfound strength but he is slow to realize their relationship will never be what it once was.
JB and Charla spend most of the novel dealing with their grief separately. Both come to realize their marriage was rocky before Benje’s death and although they still love one another, they have to work through their individual issues before contemplating a reconciliation. Charla is angry and defensive for much of the story and it takes her a while to realize that JB is still the same person she once fell in love with. Lack of communication, distrust and quick assumptions continue to plague them as they slowly mend their relationship.
The Sweet Spot is a bittersweet second chance at love romance. The characters are heartbreakingly realistic and their emotions are gut wrenchingly honest. The storyline with Charla Rae’s father is poignant and it brought me to tears on several occasions. Laura Drake’s meticulous research and love of professional bull riding is quite apparent and as a fellow fan of the sport, I was very impressed with her attention to the smallest details.
Heartfelt and engaging, The Sweet Spot will tug at readers’ heartstrings and leave them eagerly awaiting Ms. Drake’s next book pro bull riding book, Nothing Sweeter.