Title: The Real Thing by Tina Ann Forkner
Publisher: Tule Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction
Length: 332 pages
Book Rating: B+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
Sometimes you have to don a pair of cowgirl boots…
Manda Marshall is ready to leave heartache behind when she marries Keith Black, a champion saddle bronc cowboy and man of her dreams. But going from the serenity of small town Tennessee to the exhilaration of the rodeo, nothing can prepare her for being a cowboy’s wife. Becoming the new stepmom to Keith’s little boy and teenaged daughter has Manda relying on her deep sense of longing for a family and budding love for her stepchildren to strengthen their bond.
Manda’s desire of being a rodeo cowboy’s wife begins to take second place as she works to reinvent a life for herself and new family, but when mysterious phone calls from Keith’s missing ex-wife dredge up the past, Manda finds her marriage and family in an unusual and heart wrenching dilemma. The life she had worked so hard to build is suddenly redefined and her commitment to her husband and family is tested.
What Manda discovers has the power to heal or break her family in this emotional tale of cowboys, rodeo queens, and what it really means to ride beside a cowboy and his family, no matter the risk.
The Real Thing by Tina Ann Forkner is a poignant and heartwarming novel that offers a realistic portrayal of married life after the “I dos”. Not everything is sunshine and roses for newlyweds Manda Marshall and her husband Keith Black but love prevails as they face each of their challenges together.
Manda is very much in love with her bronc riding husband but she hates being apart while he is on the road. Her fourteen year old stepdaughter Peyton is resentful of her new stepmom and their relationship is fraught with tension. Manda is also a little insecure since she really does not fit into the rodeo world and after learning unexpected news about Keith, she wonders if she really knows the man she married. She is also a little jealous of the beautiful young rodeo queens that surround him day in and day out and after a couple of troubling incidents, Manda finds herself struggling with lingering trust issues from her previous marriage (which ended in divorce).
Keith is the epitome of the strong, silent type and he has not talked much about his first marriage. His wife Violet abruptly abandoned her family, filed for divorce and then completely vanished. Not long after he marries Manda, he learns the truth about why Violet left and he tries to handle this newfound information on his own which causes tension and distrust in his new marriage. Even after Manda discovers what he has been hiding, Keith is still less than forthcoming about his ex-wife and his previous marriage. A shocking discovery about Keith late in the story brings back some of Manda’s insecurities and his reluctance to revisit old wounds becomes a source of friction in their marriage.
Once all of the secrets are finally out in the open, the entire family becomes much closer. Peyton’s resentment toward Manda slowly fades and their relationship is much less contentious. Unexpected news brings everyone a great deal of joy, but their happiness is tempered with uncertainty. Keith and Manda become closer after she makes peace with the time he is away from home and they begin to work as a team when faced when trouble arises.
The Real Thing by Tina Ann Forkner is charming novel with a wonderful cast of characters and a captivating storyline. This fascinating and true to life depiction of marriage and blended families also tackles some difficult topics with a great deal of sensitivity. The characters’ growth is phenomenal and highly gratifying. I highly recommend this wonderful novel to anyone who enjoys contemporary women’s fiction.