Title: Outlaw Cowboy by Nicole Helm
Big Sky Cowboys Series Book Two
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 320 pages
Book Rating: B
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
BIG SKY TROUBLE
Ever since his father’s accident, Caleb Shaw vowed he’d mend his wild ways, and he means to keep his word. He’s a changed man. A better man. And he knows he should want absolutely nothing to do with his crazy old life…or the maddening temptation that is Delia Rogers.
Because Delia? Is nothing but trouble.
Delia’s been stealing her sisters away from their violent father ever since she was old enough to fight back. But now with the police on her trail and all her bridges burned, there’s nowhere left to run but back into the arms of the one cowboy she knows she shouldn’t need. Caleb has always been too good for her, no matter how bad he claimed to be. Yet when close quarters turn into something more, Delia and Caleb are forced to decide what really matters: mending their reputations or healing their wary hearts..
Outlaw Cowboy is the second installment in Nicole Helm’s angst-ridden Big Sky Cowboys series. This latest offering pairs reforming bad boy Caleb Shaw with the equally troubled Delia Rogers and their resulting romance is sweet yet full of drama.
Caleb is determined to prove to his sister Mel and the townspeople that he has left his drinking and irresponsible behavior behind him. Trying his best to save the family ranch without help from his wealthy brother-in-law, he has agreed to their neighbor’s ridiculous terms to lease some of their pastureland but if anyone discovers Delia on the ranch, the deal is off. Although he has a lot to lose, Caleb cannot bring himself to make her leave and their contentious relationship eventually turns romantic. With both his heart and the ranch on the line, will Caleb forgive Delia once he discovers the secret she has been keeping from him?
The Shaw family has more than its share of secrets and scars and Caleb is carrying around a world of hurt. Believing the accusation his mother hurled at him before abandoning the family, he has certainly tried to live up (or down in his case) to her expectations. Now sober and dedicated to saving his legacy, Caleb is carrying a heavy burden on his shoulders and like his sisters, Mel and Summer, he refuses to reveal why he is so deeply troubled. While he knows he is taking a huge risk letting Delia remain on the ranch, Caleb shares a long history with her that makes it impossible for him to stop trying to protect her.
Delia is not exactly the most likable person when she is first introduced. She comes from a dysfunctional home and she has spent the last several years rescuing her younger sisters from their abusive father. She will use anyone and do anything to help bring her plans to fruition and poor Caleb does not stand a chance against her. She blackmails him into helping her and even after their relationship deepens, she holds back vital information in order to remain on the ranch. While her reasons for going to such lengths are understandable, it is difficult watching her continue to manipulate Caleb.
Although their relationship is somewhat unconventional, there is never any doubt that Delia and Caleb share a simmering attraction for one another. There is also genuine respect and affection between them and their complicated history provides a firm foundation for their transition from friends to lovers. Despite their unhealthy behavior, Caleb and Delia really are good for one another. With Delia, Caleb’s more tender side comes out as he pushes aside his needs in order to help her. Delia’s rougher edge begin to soften as she becomes more invested in helping Caleb work through his family issues. They are combustible once they begin to trust each other and their sex scenes are sizzling hot and intensely intimate as their emotional barriers begin to lower.
In addition to Caleb and Delia’s romance, the Shaw family begins to make progress on fixing their fractured relationships. Delia’s effect on their father is positive although Caleb and Summer are hurt by their easy rapport with one another. Caleb stops walking on eggshells around his father as he finally allows himself to point out a few home truths about how deeply his behavior is hurting him and his sisters. The changes in their father’s attitude are small but hopefully this is just the first step in repairing the rift between him and his children.
Outlaw Cowboy is an emotional addition to Nicole Helm’s Big Sky Cowboysseries. The characters are multi-layered, flawed and deeply wounded by their pasts. The storyline is engaging and well-written although a little overly dramatic on occasion. The romance between Caleb and Delia is believable and somehow manages to thrive despite the complications they both bring to the relationship. The tantalizing glimpses of Summer will leave readers impatiently awaiting the release of True-Blue Cowboy Christmas.