#Harlequin Heartwarming Series Book Review | “The Rancher’s Homecoming” (Book Five: Return of the Blackwell Brothers) by Anna J. Stewart [of a five book series!]

Posted Thursday, 31 January, 2019 by jorielov , , , , 0 Comments

Book Review badge created by Jorie in Canva using Unsplash.com photography (Creative Commons Zero).

Acquired Book By: I started hosting with Prism Book Tours at the end of [2017], having noticed the badge on Tressa’s blog (Wishful Endings) whilst I was visiting as we would partake in the same blog tours and/or book blogosphere memes. I had to put the memes on hold for several months (until I started to resume them (with Top Ten Tuesday) in January 2018). When I enquried about hosting for Prism, I found I liked the niche of authors and stories they were featuring regularly. I am unsure how many books I’ll review for them as most are offered digitally rather than in print but this happily marks one of the blog tours where I could receive a print book for review purposes. Oft-times you’ll find Prism Book Tours alighting on my blog through the series of guest features and spotlights with notes I’ll be hosting on behalf of their authors.

This particular review is slightly different from my regular blog tours and hosting features for Prism Book Tours – as an opportunity came along this Summer to secure a spot on a ‘review tour’ rather than a ‘blog tour’ for a five-book series from Harlequin Heartwarming entitled “Return of the Blackwell Brothers”. This differs as each of the reviewers and book bloggers who are committing to this review tour are posting at different intervals as each of the five novels release which is also co-dependent on the format we are signed on to review.

My reviews will be showcased from August 2018 through January 2019 beginning with the first novel by Carol Ross. Only the first and second novel will showcase the book synopsis, author photograph and her biography as the rest of the tour will only feature the serial information which is also seen on this post. Each of us had the flexibility to choose when we are posting our reviews which was another added bonus to this particular review tour. I elected to post mine on Saturdays, as for the past four years Saturdays have been happily focused on Romances (previously strictly by ChocLit) and I am going to continue to expand this featured part of the week encompassing more Romances by both ChocLit and different publishers. Except for when I needed to post during the week in lieu of Saturday due to health issues or life in general.

I received a complimentary copy of “The Rancher’s Homecoming” direct from the author Anna J. Stewart in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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Why I continue to feel attached & connected to the Blackwell Brothers:

I love the direction Vastine took to alight us back into the towne shortly after we left The Rancher’s Redemption as she re-aligned us immediately by having Tyler & Hadley have a bit of a run-in with Judge Edwards and Zoe! This was a brilliant move as it shows the shortness of time between the two installments whilst it also helps us understand the larger timeline of the series.

The more they played at faking their engagement the more entangled they became with each other and left them with little wiggle room. It was was a great way to set-up the angst before a real relationship, too. Their play-acting brought out a lot of the left-over issues Tyler hadn’t faced from his past whilst with Hadley, it also brought out her insecurities and her ethics. She was questioning her motives whilst she was at the ranch yet more to the point, she was also discovering a part about herself she wasn’t expecting to find. She really could settle into the slower pace and the quiet stillness of the Rocky mountains. It held an appeal to her which felt as if the ties to this particular place were actually stronger than their passion for the city they had left.

This is why I loved this installment: it brought back to centre the entire back-history of the Blackwell family. This series is anchoured on its living histories – even Big E for all his glory and issues, he held his family close in his heart. Evident moreso by the time you reached the final chapter of this story but more to the point, the Blackwells were a family who held a resilience in them that gave them a bit of an edge on others. They didn’t back down easily and they knew when to fight for something important. The joy of reading the series, of course, is watching how all these entangled issues start to unravel and how the family itself learns to ‘heal’.

This installment felt a bit more seamless in transition as it echoed more of the original groundwork in the series. Each of the writers has their own unique style, voice and spin on the Blackwell Brothers – however, of the three I’ve read before this one, this one felt closer to the first narrative voice where we first learnt who the Blackwell Brothers are and why this series is centred round their second chance at brotherhood.

Vastine also nails how to bridge all the characters back into the narrative – where she gives ample time to each of the characters we’ve come to appreciate in the series to a level of rotation I was clapping in joy to read. I really felt she understood how to re-centre the series – by creating this bridge between the first three installments and the fourth, whilst giving us a proper refresher on everyone’s quirks before we moved into the fifth and final installment. I truly applaud how she managed to do this as it was fastly become my favourite novel in the series outside of the first!

The setting is dearly appealling as the ranch the Blackwell Brothers own is in Montana – nestled with a backdrop of the Rockies, the brothers surely have a lovely sky to look out over everyday. Outside of the continuity she maintained, she put her own spin on the brothers and she enlarged our view of the large ensemble cast this series has become to include. I love larger casts in novels but sometimes, you find some of the characters get forsaken for others or sometimes, the ones you want to come back into sight yield to the current ones being focused upon. I give Ms Vastine full credit for giving us a chance to catch-up with everyone we’ve met thus far along but also, allowing us to feel as if we’ve maintained a connection to them from start to finish.

-quoted from my review of The Rancher’s Fake Fiancée

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Return of the #BlackwellBrothers:

The Rancher’s Twins by Carol Ross → August 1st
The Rancher’s Rescue by Cari Lynn Webb → September 1st
The Rancher’s Redemption by Melinda Curtis → October 1st
The Rancher’s Fake Fiancée by Amy Vastine → November 1st
The Rancher’s Homecoming by Anna J. Stewart → December 1st

The Rancher's Homecoming
Subtitle: Return of the Blackwell Brothers
by Anna J. Stewart
Source: Author via Prism Book Tours

Genres: Contemporary (Modern) Fiction (post 1945), Contemporary Romance, Heartland Fiction, Ranches & Cowboys, Western Fiction, Western Romance

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-1335633897

Also in this series: Series Spotlight w/ Notes: Return of the Blackwell Brothers, The Rancher's Twins, The Rancher's Rescue, The Rancher's Redemption, The Rancher's Fake Fiancee, Series Spotlight w/ Notes: Return of the Blackwell Brothers

Published by Harlequin Heartwarming

on 4th December, 2018

Format: Larger Print (Mass Market Paperback)

Pages: 384

Published by: Harlequin Heartwarming (@HarlequinBooks) | imprint of Harlequin

Converse via: #Contemporary #Romance & #Harlequin

& #ReturnOfTheBlackwellBrothers

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About Anna J. Stewart

Be sure to visit the author online and find out what is she is releasing next!

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my review of the rancher’s homecoming:

I remember when we left off in the fourth installment – there was a glimmer of insight into where Big E actually had planned to be all along. He was in the background of the series – ever so slightly connected to each of his grandsons and yet, firmly removed from their current affairs at the same time. He was manipulating their present lives from afar, giving them nudges to seek out transitions and changes none of them were prepared to undertake – hence why this series settles into your heart. As each writer builds on what was left behind in the previous installment – we are gaining full knowledge of the Blackwells, changing our perspectives and our understanding of their family’s dynamic whilst also being privy to what is motivating Big E’s choices. The most frustrating bit though is the distance Big E was placing on his boys. In so many ways, one of the harder things to reconcile is his choice to remain elusive, to be kept ‘away’ and to let his grandsons determine for themselves how they would react to the new circumstances evolving through their lives.

This is a series that is both redemptive as it is empowering – as it is about ordinary people who are having these tiny interruptions sprinkled into their lives to where they can choose which direction they wish to take next – do they make a life altering choice or do they play it safe? Do they risk their heart or do they risk something more? I felt fully anchoured every bit of the journey with the Blackwells because each of the writers were bridging the gaps between installments with ‘just enough’ continuity to make this not just believable but realistically compelling. It is the kind of Western dramatic romance series you can’t put down and you hunger after new installments that might never arrive.

Beginning once again in the shoes of a Blackwell brother I’ve barely had the pleasure of knowing, this particular brother has a lot weighing down his soul. From tragic loss to fatherhood, Chance hasn’t had an easy path to walk. I knew it was going to be a kinetic explosion between the brothers – Ty had the best intentions on his heart but Chance was feeling caught with his back against a wall – he wanted to fight back against whatever his brother intended to talk to him about even without knowing the details. Chance was the kind of bloke who once he made his choices, he owned them, never faltered against them and kept moving forward. You could tell this by how he carried himself and how he tried to find vindication in his actions. For Chance, his life was revolving around his daughter with his career on the fringes of dispersing itself into the ether. Whatever Ty wanted to share with him wasn’t impressing him because he was the type who’d make his mind before he was given the facts; a part of that infamous Blackwell stubbornness!

Rosie, Chance’s young daughter is a delight of fresh air on the pages where her scenes are reflectively brilliant for showcasing a five year old who is open to new experiences. She has a carefree attitude about her and she has an innate willingness to learn, to grow and to gain adventures along the path her life takes into her future. Where Chance is burdened by the past, Rosie is a heartwarming reminder of how grace can touch your life despite the adverse situations which seek to undo you.

The first scene I loved truly was when Katie took her niece Rosie on horseback for the first time. It reminded me of my own riding days and of the feelings I had in my heart about horses, the wide open spaces and the ability to feel connected to the horse as you rode. It was a gentle scene – a sprouting of love and respect between an Aunt and her niece but more to that, it held the hope of what the Blackwells might be able to accomplish on this ranch. Of a renaissance of sorts of purpose and a reminder of what united them together on this land. This is one reason I love reading Western Romances – where they’re set first and foremost holds my eye but it is how the families band together, even if they are estranged – they seek each other out and try to make amends.

Katie has been shouldering a lot in the series – even before we had her back-story and how she fit into the evolving drama involving Big E. It doesn’t surprise me she would play a crucial role in what was happening at the ranch as she was the one person who had a position of influence which could take you a long way towards being able to control certain aspects of the changes none of the Blackwell brothers knew how to adapt too. It was Katie who was the strong and resilient one out of the bunch – she had to shoulder what the brothers never knew and she had to tackle the changing effects of her father’s health whilst her own life was cast aside. Katie was a selfless woman who put others’ needs ahead of her own and where she cared for the ranch as if it was breathing a fire of hope into her soul.

There is a raw honesty threading through this story – about the toxic choices people can make in regards to their health and how little girls first learn the realities of ranch life when it involves the welfare of the animals who live on the ranch. Stewart tucks you close to the heartache of Katie’s reality whilst she eclipses the sadness of an alcoholic parent with the healing which comes with accepting that your never immune to forgiveness. Everyone in the story had something to gain or to lose – depending – yet, one humble truth about the Blackwells is how each of them felt they were missing something in their lives. They hadn’t had the best upbringing but they were looked after and cared for all the same. Due to those earlier memories and the rough handling they felt they received from Big E – each of the boys had something in their adult years to overcome, Chance isn’t at all difficult from his brothers on that score, even if he feels like the black sheep.

The irony of course is how Chance feels he’s separated and removed from his brothers when in reality he has just as much at stake in this situation as they do. Perhaps even more if he let himself see past his own hate and his own judgements. That is another layer of continuity in the series – of finding ways to ‘let go’ and allow yourself to resolve the things which seek to unravel your spirit. There is a lot in life that can burden a soul but if you can find the subtle ways towards closure, resolution and perhaps even a bit of restitution along the way – you’d be far better off than holding a grudge for as long as Chance Blackwell!

on the contemporary rom styling of anna j. stewart:

I really appreciated the entrance back into the Blackwell’s in this final installment – by giving us a heartfelt way of understanding Chance, I felt we also had a preview of how Ms Stewart loves to write stories. She approached writing Chance unapologetically – he was still hurting from when he first left home, from how he felt shunned within his own family and how he was never fully sure if he was accepted as a ‘Blackwell’. That’s a lot for anyone to process but when your returning home with your young daughter in tow to meet her Uncles, Aunt and respective family for the first time, it is hard to fathom why someone like Chance would take so long to return.

It is here where Stewart shines as she knits out the psychological and emotional underpins of Chance’s afflicted heart. He isn’t just remembering the angst of the past, he simply never ‘let go’ of it – to where the pain and the memories are as etched on his mind as they were the first days he felt their mark. Stewart had the hardest installment to write – as this wasn’t just a conclusion of a five-part serial it was also the concluding chapters of each Blackwell brother. We couldn’t be assured of having more time spent with them in the future, so to be fully satisfied I was hoping all the loose tangents of the series would become firmed together. I definitely wanted to see how she would approach making Big E accountable or if his role was already done and it was just an afterthought to carry him forward in this final appearance. As a lot of what Big E did was outside the time-line of the series itself – he was generally occupying the Epilogue sections or being causally referenced in the time-line of each of the stories. This led me to being even more curious about how the series would conclude – would there be a reunion between grandsons and grandfather or was there something else awaiting us in those final last moments?

Never a series that backs down from the realities of real-life, this installment dealt with the disappointments of feeling inferior in your own family, the adverse effects of alcoholism and the contemplation of what ‘inheritance’ means and how it translates to each person it affects. The Return of the Blackwell Brothers is a series which serves as a cross-examination of the choices five brothers made professionally as well as personally to better understand their purpose which the series highlights throughout each installment. We not only gain insight into the Blackwell men but the women behind the scenes who are part of the reason why each Blackwell brother has been able to heal from their past and stride a bit more confidently into their futures.

Stewart draws on the stories of the series to root us where we have transitioned forward with the family – to give us a way of seeing where they have arrived and how what they are about to learn about this experiment of choices will determine how they accept the journey Big E conceived for them. As you could almost see he was acting as a navigator of sorts straight from the beginning – everything hinged on what he was doing or what he was planning – yet, what was the end result he was seeking? What did Big E really want to give his grandsons and why did he take the dramatic route of accomplishing it?

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As I began reading this final installment of the #ReturnOfTheBlackwellBrothers series – I must admit, I was a bit heart-broken this was the ‘final of the series’ – which is why I had tweeted this s/o about wishing there were more stories on the horizon for this series. It is hard to put down a series you’ve come to love reading – each of these authors were new to me & they managed to capture my heart and imagination with their own voice & thoughts as they merged their writerly instincts together to paint a portrait of a singular family in search for themselves, each other and the ties that bind us all together.

It was quite profound how Ms Stewart ends her letter to her readers – about finding your tribe and being amongst those who understand who you are – that is a goal I believe we all have for ourselves but finding our niche and where we feel we ‘belong’ is quite another story completely!

This is my second favourite Harlequin Heartwarming Western Romance series – the first anchoured in admiration to this one is the Rocky Mountain Cowboys series by Karen Rock; also under the Heartwarming imprint. I am blessed to be a hostess with Prism Book Tours – as I was given the grace of joy finding these authors and their stories whilst continuing my adventurous journey as a book blogger. The added blessing is the fact nearly all of these lovelies were in ‘larger print’ which helped me continue reading the stories despite health afflictions and migraines trying to undo my progression.

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Do you get equally as giddy as I do over limited series?

Do you *love!* #amreading Contemporary Westerns & Cowboy/Ranch narratives?

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This review tour is courtesy of: Prism Book Tours

Prism Book Tours

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I look forward to reading your thoughts & commentary!
Especially if you read the book or were thinking you might be inclined to read it.
I appreciate hearing different points of view especially amongst
readers who gravitate towards the same stories to read.
Bookish conversations are always welcome!

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Reading this novel counted for a few of my New Year Reading Challenges & Focuses:

Beat the Backlist banner created by Austine at A Novel Knight and is used with permission.


I will be sharing this lovely review across these events!

This review is cross-posted to LibraryThing.

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{SOURCES: Cover art of “The Rancher’s Twins”, “The Rancher’s Rescue” & “The Rancher’s Redemption”, “The Rancher’s Fake Finaceé” and “The Rancher’s Homecoming” as well as the synopsis for “The Rancher’s Twins”, the author photo of Cari Lynn Webb and her biography; the promo badge for the Return of the Blackwell Brothers series and the Prism Book Tours badge were all provided by Prism Book Tours and used with permission. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Beat the Backlist banner provided by novelknight.com and is being used with permission. Tweets embedded by codes provided by Twitter. Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva: Book Review Banner using Unsplash.com (Creative Commons Zero) Photography by Frank McKenna and the Comment Box Banner.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2019.

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About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Thursday, 31 January, 2019 by jorielov in Blog Tour Host, Book Review (non-blog tour), Contemporary Romance, Farm and Ranching on the Frontier, Indie Author, Prism Book Tours, Romance Fiction, Western Fiction, Western Romance

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