Title: A Cowboy’s Claim by Marin Thomas
Cowboys of the Rio Grande Series Book Three
Publisher: Harlequin American Romance
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 240 pages
Book Rating: B+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
A DIFFERENT KIND OF HERO
Everyone knows Victor Vicario—he’s the scarred loner who’s on his way to the National Finals Rodeo in Vegas. But no one knows about the guilt that drives him. And until he achieves his goal, there’s no room in his life for attachments.
So when Vic is given temporary custody of his young nephew, he is torn. He can’t turn his back on family, but how can he look after a kid when he’s traveling the rodeo circuit? Then he runs into feisty barrel racer Tanya McGee and makes her an offer. She helps him with Alex, and he’ll pay her rodeo expenses. The problem is their little “family” starts to feel all too real.
A Cowboy’s Claim by Marin Thomas is a captivating novel of redemption, forgiveness and letting go of past mistakes. This third installment in the delightful Cowboys of the Rio Grande series can be read as a standalone, but I highly recommend the entire series.
A fateful decision years earlier forever changed not only Victor “Vic” Vicario’s life, but his best friend Cruz Rivera’s as well. Although he never planned on a rodeo career, Vic is convinced he will find forgiveness and redemption once he wins the saddle bronc championship at the National Finals Rodeo (NFR) in Las Vegas. While he has been a contestant at the NFR several times in the past, he has not yet won the gold buckle, but after a strong beginning to the new season, Vic knows he stands a good chance of winning this year. The last thing he needs are complications taking his attention away from his goal but when he learns his four year old nephew Alex needs a temporary guardian, he agrees to care for him until other arrangements can be made. Needing help caring for the young boy, Vic makes barrel racer Tanya McGee an offer she cannot refuse: in exchange for watching Alex during competition, he will pay her expenses so she can remain on the circuit. The mutually beneficial arrangement soon becomes complicated when their simmering attraction becomes impossible to resist and Tanya begins yearning for more than friendship with Vic.
Vic is a loner by choice and while his lack of friendship has never bothered him in the past, once he becomes friendly with Tanya, loneliness begins to creep in. Just before he learns about Alex’s predicament, their unexpected friendship leads to a passionate night together. Not wanting her to learn about his sordid past, Vic leaves without explanation and for a short time afterwards, their paths do not cross as they compete at different rodeos. Understandably hurt and angry, Tanya is not exactly welcoming when they meet again, but Vic is quick to apologize for the way he left things and they are soon back on friendly terms. Tanya agrees to help him with Alex in the short term but will she agree to stay with them once her circumstances change?
Following a divorce and a long recovery from a devastating injury, Tanya has returned to the circuit for one final season. Despite her over protective parents’ concerns, she is determined to continue competing as long as she can. With a temperamental horse, Tanya has been struggling to win enough events to pay for travel expenses and entry season for the remainder of the season. When her money runs out, she accepts Vic’s offer despite her strong reservations about becoming overly involved with him and Alex.
As the months pass, Vic grows increasingly attached to both Alex and Tanya, but he cannot give up his quest for the gold buckle that will provide him the absolution and forgiveness he so desperately needs. Although he has forged a successful career as a saddle bronc rider, no one realizes guilt has been driving him to win. Unwilling (and unable) to reveal his dysfunctional past, Tanya cannot understand why winning is more important to him than giving Alex a stable (and permanent) home. Can he forgive himself for that long ago mistake that altered so many lives? Will Vic make peace with his past in order to find happiness?
A Cowboy’s Claim by Marin Thomas is a sweet and endearing romance with an engaging cast of characters and a compelling storyline. Vic has realistic issues to overcome and his healing journey is poignant. Seeing him finally move past the demons that have haunted him for so long is incredibly uplifting and emotionally satisfying. This last installment in the Cowboys of the Rio Grande series is a heartwarming finale that old and new fans are sure to love.