Garth Black’s more familiar with this concept than most people are. He hadn’t just lived in the dark for the majority of his life—he thrived in it. With a mom who’d bailed on him and a dad whose understanding of coddling started and ended with a bottle of whiskey, Garth had never been expected to rise to any sort of occasion other than following down the same dead-end paths.
That changed when he fell in love with Josie Gibson. After years of pulling each other closer before shoving the other way, they finally stopped shoving. Josie’s love is like nothing Garth’s ever experienced. He holds it close. He holds it sacred. He would do anything to preserve it and keep it from pollution, even if that means removing himself from the picture.
Garth might have been allowed a temporary furlough to bask in the light, but that pass has been revoked, and he’s been swallowed again by the dark. Will he revert to his old ways of hurting those he cares for most? Will he go back to the same destructive patterns . . . or will it be worse this time?
We can’t know light without first knowing dark . . . and Garth Black’s about to get acquainted with the dark in a whole new way.
“You don’t throw away the love of a lifetime because someone gets injured—that’s when you prove what your love’s really made of.”
Garth Black. This dark, troubled, smart-alecky cowboy stole my heart in Finders Keepers, but I have to admit that getting a continuation of his story was equally thrilling as it was terrifying at first, because every protective bone in my body did not wish any more harm to come to these beloved characters. Garth and Josie’s love story had been a lesson in perseverance, of stubbornly fighting for what we want most in our lives, and of breaking the self-disparaging cycle we might have been born into. But their tale was not over, as blissfully as it had ended, and one more hurdle was needed for Garth to recognise and truly embrace the unconditional love a woman like Josie was offering him. An intensely emotional and thought-provoking story, sugar-coated with light-hearted humour and sarcasm, it never steered away from getting across a very meaningful message of hope and courage, of learning to grab life by the horns instead of fearing it, of living to the fullest regardless of what the future has in store for us, and of seizing every minute of every day like it were our last. I fell in love with these characters all over again, and I still find myself smiling from time to time as certain scenes unexpectedly flash through my mind, because this superb, feel-good story stays with us long after we turn the last page.
“I had nothing to compare to the way she loved me, and that’s what made it so special. No one but her had ever come close to loving me like that. No one had ever believed in me the way she did. Her love was so big and overwhelming that each day with her erased another day of pain and failure from my past. Her love was magic, healing me as it lifted me up, and though she tried convincing me otherwise, I knew I could spend ten lifetimes trying and failing to give her what she’d given me in a year’s time.”
Garth and Josie have found their happy ending in each other’s arms and with a hopeful future before them. But, after a childhood void of affection and approval, and having been told all his life that he was nothing, Garth still struggles with his self-esteem issues, especially when it comes to truly believing that he could ever be worthy of someone as wonderful as Josie. He plans of handing her the world, of making every single one of her dreams come true, thus making her as happy as she makes him, and his career as a bull rider is his means to that very end. But one moment, one flash in time, steals his dreams away and leaves him facing the kind of future he has dreaded all his life.
“My whole life, everything I’d been and everything I’d wanted to become, was spiraling away from me. Fragments of the man I’d been and the man I’d wanted to become were gusting out of reach. My life as I’d known it was over. My life as I’d hoped it would be would never come to fruition.”
As we watch him reverting to his old, sarcastic, self-destructive ways in an attempt to cope emotionally with his own helplessness and inherent pessimism, we also watch him push away those he loves the most in life—his Josie most of all. Convinced that she would be better off without him and determined to give her the life he believes she should want, he becomes his cantankerous old self, the man he knows Josie should not love. But all his plans fall through one by one as he realises that the firecracker he loves more than life itself is not a woman who can be told what to feel or what to do. And that her love comes with no conditions.
“Joze, you and I are more alike than both your mother and father pray every night we’re not.”
“Ah, that’s the sweetest thing you’ve ever said to me. Nothing says romance like implying your woman’s the asshole equivalent of you with boobs.”
Ms Williams has given us a kickass heroine that created the perfect character balance to the hero’s often belligerent and gloomy ways. Josie is Garth’s perfect match in so many ways, defusing his negativity with her sharp tongue and quick wit, disarming him with her bubbliness and playfulness, and mending his broken heart with her endless love and devotion. Even in his darkest hour, she is the beacon that pulls him out of his own misery.
“My God, Joze. You’re the best damn woman God had the audacity to go and create. How did I end up with you?”
There is something so emotionally fulfilling about a story like this one—even the sadder moments leaving us bursting with hope and positivity—but it is the sheer magnitude and beauty of the love present on every single one of these pages that captured my heart irreversibly. This inspiring, uplifting, touching love story was great before, but now it became a sight to behold. I cherished every moment and was only too happy to discover that one way or another, we would not be saying goodbye to these beloved characters just yet, as they would inevitably play a minor role in the final chapter of Jesse and Rowen’s story in Heart and Soul. This is a book for the heart and mine is overflowing right now.
“Nothing’s fine without you, Joze. But with you? Everything’s perfect.”
✦ Read an excerpt ✦
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Lost and Found – Reading Order and Purchase Links
Lost and Found: My Review | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback
Near and Far: My Review | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback
Finders Keepers: My Review | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback
Losers Weepers: My Review | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback
Heart and Soul: iBooks (16 Jun 2015)
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