Sunday, November 13, 2016

ARC Review: My Cowboy Freedom (The Cowboys, #5) by Z.A. Maxfield

The author of My Cowboy Promises and My Cowboy Homecoming returns once again to the Rocking C Ranch...

After doing time, Skyler is used to fighting for everything he wants, and what he wants most is a job at the Rocking C. But Sky's boss Sterling Chandler is a vocal homophobe and his men don’t necessarily trust an ex-con. Sky’s willing to overlook their attitude. It’s enough to be back outside, working in the open air. He wants to put his past behind him and he plans to mind his own business; hopefully, the men he works with will do the same. That doesn’t mean he wouldn’t like a friend—especially one like shy giant Rock Evans.

Rock does his best to stay away from Sky. Rock’s a gentle man with a big heart and the tattooed wrangler scares him. Forced to work side by side, they start falling for each other. When Chandler suffers a massive stroke, Rock and Sky must work together to save the boss’s life and run his ranch. Can Sky’s hard work and Rock’s Texas-sized heart teach Chandler that love will always save the day?

Jewel's rating:

My Cowboy Freedom is the fifth book in ZA Maxfield's Cowboys series. It isn't my favorite (that award goes to My Cowboy Heart), but I still enjoyed it. It's a story about second chances and finding your place and family and finding love.

I didn't read book 4, My Cowboy Promises, and while there is some character crossover, the important bits of that story are explained here, so I didn't feel like I was missing huge bits. I appreciated that, so much. And books 4 and 5 take place in Texas, rather than New Mexico, where books 1-3 took place, so again, you're not going to miss huge things if you decide to start with this story.

Skylar Brody is a 26 year old ex-con. He spent 8 years in prison for something that, while tragic, I think was justified. But 18 year old Sky didn't handle the situation as well as he could have and so, he did the time. He makes no excuses and he doesn't place the blame anywhere but with himself, but if you ask me, I think Sky is too hard on himself. He just wants to work hard and prove himself and get a chance at life.

While in prison, Sky sought the protection of someone stronger. He did what he had to do to survive it all. Now that he's free, Sky feels a little lost. Everything is too quiet and he's not sure where he fits. Getting a job at the Rocking C Ranch, where he fondly remembers spending time as a child, gives him hope that he can adapt and heal and live a good life.

Rock McLean is 23 and isn't as independent as he would like. There was an accident when he was a junior in high school that, while he survived it, left him with a bit of brain damage and epilepsy. He has a service dog named Maisy, whom I just fell in love with. She's a hero. Rock comes from a super religious and privileged family and they do not accept that he is gay and what they really want is to send him to conversion therapy. His parents were pretty awful, if you ask me. They keep him on a short leash and if he doesn't toe the line, they will cut him off, including his insurance. The ranch is the only thing keeping him sane.

I felt for Rock. By all accounts, before the accident, he was an entitled brat. Not a very nice kid. He hid who he was better, but he wasn't a very likable guy. After, though, he stopped hiding. Stopped being a jerk. And starting being honest. He doesn't have it easy, but he does have integrity. At first I was really surprised he would put with it for so long, but he really lived a sheltered life before. And it took time for Rock's protectors to come around, but the couple that do are fierce in their defense. And when that happens, Rock gets stronger and starts looking at his options.

There was one bit of the story, near the end that seemed to come out of nowhere, though, just to create conflict. What it did, however, is leave me scratching my head. While something was probably necessary to bring Sterling Chandler around, I think that this whole scene was largely unnecessary. It didn't fit. But that is my biggest contention with the story.

I loved seeing both Rock and Sky get stronger and fall in love. My Cowboy Freedom ends on a strong HFN, and I think they are well on their way to their HEA. We just have to give them a little time.


ARC of My Cowboy Freedom was generously provided, via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.

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