Length: 70,000 words approx.
Cover Design: Meredith Russell
Micah Lennox left Whisper Ridge after promising the man he loved that he would never return. But the only way he knows to keep his pregnant sister and nephew safe is to go home. Spending winter in Wyoming opens too many old wounds, but he's on the run from justice which can't be far behind, and this is his last chance at redemption.
After a hostage situation leaves Doctor Daniel Sheridan struggling with PTSD, he returns to Whisper Ridge. Joining his dad in family practice is a balm to soothe his exhausted soul, and somehow, he finds a peace he can live with. That is until he meets Micah in a frozen graveyard, and the years of anger and feelings of betrayal boiling inside him, erupt.
Two broken men fight and scratch for their lives and that of their families, and somehow, in the middle of it all, they find each other.
Is it possible that love can be rekindled and become a forever to believe in?
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I think when I started reading this book I was expecting something more like the author’s Texas series or even her Montana series, and while it was definitely a little closer to her Montana series in terms of both books dealt with the darker side of human nature and there’s a strong sense of family in both series, that’s pretty much where the similarities end as far as the stories are concerned.
I admit I’ve never been to Wyoming but throughout this story there were moments that captured my mind creating a very vivid picture of Whisper Ridge and I truly feel like I could draw a picture of this place…well, at least I could if could draw but the picture is there in my mind of the town, Micah’s home on the Lennox Ranch and Daniel’s haunted house with it’s wild garden Ms Scott brought them all to life for me and as I read this book it all became populated with the characters that were also brought to life for me. I wasn’t left so much with a sense of a specific place as that I feel like if I went to Wyoming I would find places that would bring Whisper Ridge to mind for me because they had that same feeling of openness and beauty that I got from this story.
Now before I really get into babbling about this story I’m going to quickly explain that I had one little niggle and that was the fact that I would have liked for Micah and Daniel to have more face to face time on page but I was also torn because the fact that they didn’t made sense and in a lot of ways I’m not sure the story would have worked as well for me if they had so…niggle but was it a problem…not really, more like me being greedy because I liked these two characters and the way they played off of each other.
While every story has a beginning, a middle and an ending…how the author chooses to give us those parts can often dictate how well a story works for the reader. This story doesn’t really start at the beginning or even the ending…nope, it pretty much starts in the middle and for me that worked just fine because while we’re given a very small glimpse at the past. It’s the present where this story really starts and while that may seem like the middle of the story from a timeline perspective it’s also where the connection between the past and the future is best made because it’s where Micah has to decide that the promises of the past aren’t as important as his family’s safety in the present and their continued well being in the future.
When Micah left Whisper Ridge, 9 years earlier, things weren’t good between him and Daniel, the man he loved…in fact things weren’t good between him and pretty much the whole damned town so leaving and never coming back didn’t seem like to hard of a thing to do. But when Micah’s pregnant sister and his nephew, Laurie need protecting the first place that comes to mind for Micah to take them is Whisper Ridge and for Micah more important than keeping a promise is keeping his family safe, so he heads for the home.
Micah’s only planning on staying long enough to make sure his sister is safe and then he’s leaving heading back to the ranch where he works and has made a life for himself. Coming back into contact with Daniel and the rest of the Sheridan family wasn’t in his plan, finding forgiveness and acceptance for what happened in the past wasn’t even on his radar and reconnecting with Daniel a man who’s fighting his own demons but is still the man he loved was the last thing he expected to have happen.
So many things have changed for both Micah and Daniel and it’s through glimpses of their past both shared and separate that we get to know these men and see where they were and how they’ve come to be where they are in the present. I was totally absorbed by this story. I love a light, fluffy happily ever after story as much as the next person but I’m also a fan of stories that show the strength of human nature and the ability that each person has to rise above whatever comes their way.
Even though this story is about Micah and Daniel just like in the real world you truly can’t have the whole story without seeing their connections to the rest of the world. There’s an amazing ensemble cast here of family and community that enriches and adds depth to this story. Along with Micah’s family which is comprised of his pregnant sister Rachel her son, Laurie there’s his Aunt Amy and her husband Jeff. Daniel’s family consist of his parents, 3 brothers…Mark who’s away at college, Scott the family business tycoon…I really liked Scott. He had his ‘in your face, big brother’ moments but there was zero doubt that for Scott family mattered above all else and then there’s Chris and I adore him, want him to have a story in which he finds an amazing love because he so deserves it, he’s also pretty pivotal to this story and last but not least is their sister, Michelle who also happens to be pregnant…must be something in the water. So that’s the basics as far as family is concerned but there’s also the matter of the local sheriff and a private investigator named Connor who I’m hoping we’ll find out more about because mysterious men are always intriguing and who knows who else we’ll get to meet along the way in this one.
I definitely want more about Micah and Daniel, I also would like to find out more about the other characters in this story as well, so it probably goes without saying that I’m very happy this is a series because I have no doubt that R.J. Scott will give me more and my curiosity will be appeased…I just need to be patient, right?
An ARC of Winter Cowboy was graciously provided by the tour organizer in exchange for an honest review.
A figure stood beside Isaac's grave and I knew immediately who it was.
There was no marker yet for the boy who had died two weeks ago and who would forever be nineteen. Flowers marked his resting place, but snow had long since covered them and softened the raised earth so it wasn't as obvious against the gravestones around the figure. A car accident had taken Isaac, killed him on impact, and his family grieved for a future that would never be realized.
I'd just left my brother, Chris, in the hospital, broken beyond repair in the same accident. At least we had the possibility of a future with him, even though the road to recovery would be hard. He was still in a medically induced coma, not yet awake to know he'd lost his leg, or that fire had marked his face. But he would wake up. They told us he'd live.
No one had asked me where I was going when I'd left Chris room, each of us lost in various stages of shock and grief, and we all dealt with what had happened in our own way. I'd needed to connect with Isaac. Needed the peace to balance the loss and guilt that ate away inside me.
Isaac dead on impact, Chris' future destroyed, and in front of me, hunched over Isaac's last resting place, was the man responsible for it all.
The man who left my bed in the dead of night to become a murderer.
He was huddled into his coat, the January ice bitter by the buried, hands forced into his pockets, and his hood pulled around his face. Micah must have heard me, because he glanced my way, startled, grief written on his face. And then his expression changed.
He stepped toward me, his expression full of something like hope.
"Daniel?" he said. Is Chris okay? No one will let me see him.
He stopped walking when I didn't reach out for him and looked at me uncertainly.
"His leg is gone, down from his knee," I explained dispassionately, and then touched my face, "and his burns are bad, the left side of his face from his temple to his chin."
"Shit. Shit." Micah bent at the waist, as if he couldn't breathe, and he was crying.
"How is it you don't have a mark on you?" I asked, still eerily calm, and utterly focused.
He took his hand from his pocket, and pulled up his sleeve, exposing bandages. "I was burned," he began. He dropped his hand when I didn't comment, forced it back into his pocket, wincing as he did so.
I imagined the burn hurt a little, maybe even a lot, but he was there, as whole and real as when he'd left my bed on that terrible day.
In my mind I saw Chris in the hospital, the covers raised over the cage which protected his surgical site, then dipping lower where his ankle should have been. I saw a clear image of Isaac the day before he died, knocking for Chris and grinning at me as if he had the greatest secret to tell his best friend.
And here was Micah, telling me he had slight burns on his arm? The same man who'd told me in one breath that he loved me and then had stolen my car, driving it into a bridge and killing one boy, leaving another maimed and in a coma.
My fist flew, clenched aggression targeting Micah's face, his cheekbone, and I heard a satisfying crunch. He staggered back a step, but he didn't go down, and he didn't take his hands from his pockets. I was too fast. I hit him again, blood flecking his face, dissipating into the icy air. He moved again, the force of my blows shoving him back.
Still, his hands remained in his pockets, and he was unnervingly quiet, taking my hits as if they were nothing at all. Another punch connected with his lip and split the skin, and this time he grunted in pain. He staggered backward toward the next grave and bent back over the stone marker with the force of that final blow. I stepped closer. I hit him again, connecting with his jaw, but the hit wasn't hard. There was nothing to it; he didn't move away.
"You took my car," I yelled, right in his face.
"You said I could borrow it," he pleaded.
I raised my hand to hit him again, but he winced, and closed his eyes, and I wanted him to look at me. "Open your damn eyes!"
He did, and he wouldn't avert his gaze, naked grief in his expression.
"Daniel, please listen."
"You've destroyed Chris' life."
"You need to leave Whisper Ridge, and never come back. I don't want to see your face, I don't want Chris to ever see you again. You understand?"
"I understand," his tone low and broken.
"You will never come back here." I shook him. He was smaller than me, thinner, lighter, and I shook him so hard his head snapped back. "Promise me!"
"I pr-promise," he said through tears.
I was disgusted by him, hated him, wanted to kill him right there on Isaac's grave.
"I hope they lock you up and throw away the fucking key!" I was still shouting, and he didn't move, just stared at me with those pale eyes, red and wet from crying. He wouldn't stop crying. "Don't fucking stare at me!"
I shoved him one last time, and then before I could work out what the hell I was still doing there shouting at him, I pivoted and turned my back on him, and on Isaac's grave, and the entire carnage.
About the author:
RJ Scott is the bestselling author of over one hundred romance books. She writes emotional stories of complicated characters, cowboys, millionaire, princes, and the men who get mixed up in their lives. RJ is known for writing books that always end with a happy ever after. She lives just outside London and spends every waking minute she isn't with family either reading or writing.
The last time she had a week's break from writing she didn't like it one little bit, and she has yet to meet a bottle of wine she couldn't defeat.