Hallo, Hallo dear hearts!
You might remember my fondness for reading the prequel of the Rocky Mountain Cowboys – ‘A Cowboy to Keep’? I was overjoyed I could borrow this novel through my local library’s ILL services (inter-library loan) whilst I celebrated the publication of the first novel ‘Christmas at Cade Ranch’?! Since I hosted my interview with Ms Rock last year, the series has experienced quite a bit of growth – as there are now *five!* novels released!
As I eagerly anticipate reading ‘A Cowboy’s Pride’ I will have happily read four of the stories – isn’t that grand?! The first thing you realise when your reading this series is how lush & vivid the scenery is as the Cade Ranch is set in Carbondale, Colorado – nestled in a lovely area of the Rocky Mountains on the Western range where you are quite literally surrounded by the beauty of the mountains and the wildlife who calls the place home. This is the country of wide open ranges, tall mountain peaks, small townes & communities and a lifestyle that is both relaxed and celebrating either ranching or cultural art.
Ms Rock has a lovely niche of depositing you into this family saga through the different eyes of perspective she lends her readers – it is not your typically set series either – as despite the largeness of the Cade clan, you would generally believe each installment would funnel itself exclusively through the ‘men’ of the series but thankfully Ms Rock switched things up quite a bit and has gone a different route completely! Mind you, there is a female Cade amongst the brothers – of whom I am itching to have her own day in the spotlight but for now, what impressed me most is how there are other women whose lives bear remembering as they each have sought redemption & second chances in Carbondale amongst the Cades! A bit like the film ‘Mrs Winterbourne’ where Ricki Lake’s character learnt a hard truth about how if life is going to get a bit rougher and more complicated, it is best to ride out the uncertainties with a family who adopts you into their fold than to bear it all on the harsher side of the streets!
Reflections on ‘A Cowboy to Keep’:
What I thought was so keen about this series is how it harkens back to yesteryear – where the open range and ranches were relying on the law – through bounty hunters, lawmen and the courage of the ranchers themselves to seek justice when needed. The West has a lot of History in this regard and to even get a slice of it within a Contemporary Western playing homage felt ‘right’ to me! I was most encouraged to see how Ms Rock would shape the series whilst owning to the heart of what implores us about the life of living in the West nestled against the Rocky Mountains! Part of the allure for me to read Westerns (both Historical & Contemporary) has been the appeal of the mountains which in of themselves are part of the character and charm which define the Western culture and influences the topography of the settings.
The area of the mountains they were riding in whilst on horse-back is the stuff of envy for any horse girl because they were right in the thick of the wild country – where the mountains were endless, the skies were enriched by the crispness of the climate and there were no trails except the ones you choose to carve for yourself as you rode. The horses could feel the vibe, too, as there is a certain freedom attached to riding on a ranch whose acres are half of 1,000!
The worst thing to be left with when your alone are your thoughts – such as how Dani is finding she’s not nearly as strong as she first perceived she had become ever since Jackson took up residence on the Ranch. It’s hard to shake the restlessness you feel being around someone you know could alter the course of your life – which is why Dani is betwixt and between knowing how she could proceed. She has as job to do – that’s true – but at what cost to herself and to those she’s considered her friends? As you watch her counter-weigh her own mistakes against the (supposed) mistakes of those she knows under her employ, you start to see her wrestling with her own guilt and the line of conscience recrimination which is overtaking her mind and heart.
Reflections on ‘Christmas at Cade Ranch’:
One of the beautiful things about this series is how redemption and second chances permeate through the stories. Erstwhile, you are becoming closer in acquaintance with the Cade family themselves – the ranch they live on becomes the anchour to their lives, the place where they gather and they grow; where love nurtures their present and where it breathes hope into the future. Each installment of this series builds on the last story in sequence – thereby, by the time you start at A Cowboy to Keep whilst reading each new story thereafter, you are given a wonderful portrait of a resilient family. A family whose honest about the hardships in life and where good or bad, this is a family who remains evermore true of themselves.
Ms Rock does a great job of taking you into the heart of addiction – first through the opinions of family who feel they are being helpful but in reality their falling a bit short with a few good observations. Secondly, she takes you into an NA meeting to hear the stories of other addicts who are struggling just like Sofia to quash their innermost doubts and to remain above the pains of addiction whilst re-setting their lives free of the substance of their choice. It was in one of those meetings where Sofia felt both ashamed to be present and rather awkwardly at first, comfortable amongst those who she could relate too.
Ms Rock also highlights what it is like to have a controlling personality – someone who is unable to yield or bend – this was spoken about in regards to Sofia’s father but in the present time-line of the series it is mostly directed towards James who has a definitive way of ‘taking over’ and claiming roles he was not meant to lead because doing so would jeopardise another person’s sense of self.
One of my favourite parts of the story is how closely Sofia and Joy (the Cade siblings mother) bonded over being in such close quarters whilst she was recuperating. Joy still had quite a bit of spunk left in her and she had a right to want to keep living her life to the fullest she could. Sofia inspired her in equal measure of Joy inspiring Sofia to take new risks and to keep bettering herself for her future and her son’s (Javi). Javi was an impressionable child but he also understood what was important in his young life. I can see why Sofia stressed about how he might react around James and why being around James for both of them was proving to be a bit too difficult.