There’s tortured. And there’s Garth Black.
His life has been a constant carousel of tragedy and disappointment, including his love life. Of course, applying the term “love” to Garth’s conquests is a gross misuse of the word. Some people were made to give and accept love, and others weren’t. Garth Black redefines the “others” category. He’s made a vow that the day he meets a woman who could sucker him into falling in love will be the day he runs away.
Garth’s plan has one flaw. What happens when he’s already fallen hard for a girl before the warning signs and red flags go up? What happens when the love he’s avoided his entire life brings him to his knees? What happens when Garth Black lets the dirtiest four letter word he’s ever known into his dark, lonely life?
This cowboy’s about to find out he can control some things, and he can’t control others. Number one on the what he can’t control list?
“Don’t love me. You get to choose who you love, so please… please don’t waste it on me.”
If you had asked me a few months ago who my all-time favourite cowboy was, I would have said “Jesse Walker” in a heartbeat. That boy was the perfect combination of sweet and sexy, cheerful but profound, and this coupled with his innate ability to love others fiercely and selflessly, made him one of my favourite book boyfriends ever. But even while I was panting after Jesse, another cowboy caught my attention – a darker, more troubled one, whose smart mouth and careless attitude were clearly masking a bleeding heart under his tough façade. That cowboy was Jesse Walker’s best friend and this is finally his book.
“It didn’t matter what age I was or how much I thought I loved the woman. Marriage, rings, and vows were not created with people like me in mind.”
Garth Black has lived the kind of loveless childhood nightmares are made of. Having been neglected and physically abused by his only parent since he was born, never shown an ounce of affection or affirmation in his life, he has grown into a jaded young man who believes himself to be a bad seed unworthy of being loved. He is sarcastic, short-tempered and inherently self-destructive, making it very difficult for others to care for him or enjoy being around him. Except for his two best and only friends in the world who have always seen past his reckless pretences, never cared about his upbringing or his family’s lack of social standing, and who also happen to be the only two people that Garth has ever cared for. And he’s also secretly loved one of them since he was five years old.
“My childhood friend, my adolescent secret obsession, my biggest mistake.”
But as deep as his feelings are for his friend, Garth has never admitted this to himself or to her. He succumbed to his feelings for her only once in his life, one regretful drunken night of lowered inhibitions and frenzied passion, which cost him both his best friends for a long time after that.
“Why don’t you stop pretending to be the hero and own what you really are? The villain. Go villainize someone else’s life. You couldn’t possibly do anymore to mine.”
This book starts with a heartbreaking event in Garth’s life, leaving him homeless and alone in the world, and in the unexpected care of the very woman he won’t allow himself to love. But she is not only the only woman he dreams of, she is his true match, equally quick-tempered and stubborn, always seeing through his impassive acts and this time around determined to never allow him to push her away again. Never having had anyone concerned about his wellbeing before, or anyone who cared for him enough to put his happiness first, Garth is in unfamiliar territory when his best friend starts slowly dismantling his defences. Her persistent affection and faith in him are his undoing, and soon she makes him believe that they might have a chance at happiness after all. She shows him a different way of perceiving the world around him, one that is not all-consumingly negative and destructive, giving him hope that a man like him could love and be loved by a woman like her.
“It doesn’t have to be Garth Black against the whole world…”
She makes him question everything his dysfunctional childhood has taught him, his warped sense of right and wrong, his rejection of all social norms and behaviours, and for the first time in his life, Garth is happy. But a lifetime of self-doubt and self-hatred is hard to ignore when the world is determined to push you back down, and for Garth it is easier to believe that he will always be unworthy of his beloved’s love than that he finally deserves someone like her in his life. Or that he has anything in him to offer to her.
“How could I be what was best for her when I didn’t even know what was best for myself? How could I love her the way she deserved to be loved when my parents hadn’t shown me an ounce of it?”
A tale of learning to fight for what you want most in life and breaking a cycle of self-destruction and hatred of the world around you, this is a book that broke me, gutted me, made me mama bear and cowboy groupie all rolled into one. Garth’s self-doubting tendencies arising from a continuous lack of parental encouragement in his life made me so very protective of him and incredibly invested in his happiness. His leading lady was a force to be reckoned with, her strength of character and loving determination made me smile at their every interaction, not to mention swoon at the palpable chemistry between them. Without any explicit level of detail, Ms Williams manages to make our hearts race from mere acts of hand-holding or spooning in bed. I was having palpitations from sheer kissing scenes! Somehow, the level of emotion between these characters is more than enough to make us feel satisfied on all fronts, dreamy-eyed from beginning to end. I loved this book something fierce, and I knew, just KNEW this smartass cowboy would end up stealing my heart.
“I wasn’t the guy who fell in love with you this past winter… I was the boy who fell in love with you that day on the school bus when we were five. And I’m the man that always will.”
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Lost and Found – Reading Order and Purchase Links
Lost and Found: Amazon US | Amazon UK | B&N
Near and Far: Amazon US | Amazon UK | B&N
Finders Keepers: Amazon US | Amazon UK | B&N
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I’m a wife, a mom, a writer. I started writing because I loved it and I’m still writing because I love it. I write young adult because I still believe in true love, kindred spirits, and happy endings.
Here’s to staying young at heart *raises champagne glass* . . . care to join me?
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