The Sweet Spot by Laura Drake

The Sweet Spot by Laura DrakeAvailable: Now Amazon/B&N

Type: Contemporary Romance

Publisher: Forever

My Copy: Sent

Reviewer: Michelle

Charla Rae Denny was the perfect wife with a perfect life, content to keep the home fires burning while her husband, JB, competed as a champion bull rider. Then their son died in a tragic accident-and everything fell apart. Divorced and saddled with a hill of bills and a failing ranch, Charla must now cowboy up to put her life back together. James “JB” Denny doesn’t stay where he isn’t welcome. So when Charla shut him out of her grieving heart-and their home-a year ago, he took comfort where he could find it. Now after seeing beautiful Charla again, he wants it all back. She can’t work the ranch alone, and deep in his heart he knows he can be the man she needs. But after so much history and heartbreak, can JB convince Charla to take a risk and give their love a second chance?

After finishing The Sweet Spot, I have to admit that I am pleasantly surprised. When I first started reading it, I worried about a couple of things. First, the hero JB seemed like too much of an “aw shucks” kind of man. I’m all for a sexy, macho cowboy, but he didn’t seem to be manly enough for my taste. Second, I have a very hard time with bad things happening to kids, and given that the main couple’s history revolves around losing their son, I wasn’t optimistic. Thankfully the accident happened in the past and is only referenced to, so I didn’t have to “live” through it.

The author also does a wonderful job of making the reader believe in JB’s transformation. He is a rodeo announcer and rancher, working with his ex-wife Charla to keep the ranch they both still partly own afloat. In the beginning he is not hero-worthy material at all. He walked away from his wife, had an affair, spent time hanging out with people half his age and lost not only the respect of his friends and family but also his self-respect. The past year that they have spent apart since losing their son helped to open his eyes to what is really important in life. He vows to become a man worthy of Charla again and does whatever he can to earn back her love.

Charla has her hands full. She is trying to run their ranch without JB’s full-time help in addition to caring for her father who suffers from Alzheimer’s. All Charla ever wanted was to be a wife and mom, so working her fingers to the bone trying to keep her ranch afloat is pushing her over the edge. She is slowly coming out of the fog of grief she’s been wallowing in since they lost their son. Fighting an addiction to Valium hasn’t made things any easier, and JB’s reappearance is rubbing salt into wounds she just wants to leave alone. She has always loved him, but she doesn’t trust him and can’t count on him. She blames herself for their son’s accident, and she blames JB for leaving her when she needed him most.

This book was full of heartbreaking emotions. The grief both of them feel since the death of their son is almost overwhelming at times. The bitterness and distrust between them slowly begins to disappear, but it is a long, slow process. Charla’s addiction and her father’s health issues on top of everything else are enough to make the reader feel sorry for her. Luckily she goes through her own transformation, learning she is made of even sterner stuff than she thought she was. Forced to face life on her own two feet and take care of not only herself but her father and their business turns her into a strong, confident woman. Being able to forgive JB and give him another chance, knowing he is the love of her life, goes along with that newfound confidence.

Normally I like a lot more romance when I read a book, but this poignant story of two people walking through grief separately and then finding their way back to each other did not disappoint.

I give The Sweet Spot by Laura Drake 4.25 stars.

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