Branded by Laura Wright (The Cavanaugh Brothers #1)

Branded by Laura WrightAvailable: Now Amazon/B&N

Type: Contemporary Romance

Publisher: Signet

My Copy: Sent

Reviewer: Pam

In the small town of River Black, Texas, sits the Triple C—a working cattle ranch that sustains the town. But it also holds painful memories and shocking secrets for the Cavanaugh brothers… When the Cavanaugh brothers return home for their father’s funeral, they discover unexpected evidence of the old man’s surprising double life—a son named Blue, who wants the Triple C Ranch as much as they do. The eldest son, Deacon, a wealthy businessman who couldn’t wait to leave the ranch and move on with his life, is looking to use his powerful connections to stop Blue at any cost. He never expected the ranch’s forewoman, Mackenzie Byrd, to get in his way.

Mac knows Deacon means to destroy the ranch and therefore destroy her livelihood. But as the two battle for control, their attraction builds. Now Deacon is faced with the choice of a lifetime: Take down the Triple C to feed his need for revenge, or embrace the love of the one person who has broken down every barrier to his heart.

This is such an emotionally charged story, the family is damaged, the relationships are strained and yet there are memories that hold these characters together and have them striving for something that they once had.

Deacon Cavanaugh walked away from his family ten years ago and his brother soon followed. The family was destroyed after their sister Cass was taken and later found murdered, they never found the murderer and the grieving parents had no one but the brothers to blame. He left with revenge in his heart and after he founded the Cavanaugh Group, a company that buys and sells property for a profit his plan was to purchase the Triple C Ranch and destroy it.

Their father, Everett recently died leaving everything to the three brothers, and then dropped a bombshell adding Blue, a ranch hand to the mix, causing distrust and pain for all those involved. Not even Blue knew what his mother and Everett were hiding all these years.

Mackenzie Byrd (Mac) is the foreman on the ranch, she has known the Cavanaugh family all her life and was Cass’ best friend, and she loves everything about the ranch, even thinking of Everett as a father figure. She vows to stop Deacon from his plans but when secrets are revealed and things are not what they seem, she is not sure where to go from here.

I so enjoyed this story, a great beginning to a series about this distressed family. The Cavanaugh’s were a proud family; the sons were young with the world at their feet and their one daughter was the delight of both parents. When the most horrific thing possible happened it tore the family apart and left questions and secrets, still to this day. No one knew why the three boys left so suddenly after their sister died and they never came home to visit, even when their mother was committed before she died. The secrets are deep and the riff is wide. As the boys come home for the funeral and the reading of the will, they begin the long process of reconnecting, which I like, but it is so painful to read their stories and feel their hurt.

I really like Mac, from the first page as she dealt with the loss of her best friend to the disappearance of the men she thought of as brothers and more. Everett treated her like a daughter and although the brothers had issues with him, she loved him and he was there when she needed him. It is too bad that her memories are now affected because of what she learns from Deacon. Speaking of Deacon, he has some big issues with his parents, justifiable but still the hatred is so ingrained that nothing is going to make him change his mind, unless it is a powerful love. I like Mac and Deacon together, and although they never had a relationship in their younger years, the friendship they had does not miss a beat when they reconnect and the attraction builds fast on this basis, they have great chemistry as they share some amazing nights.

I love the family dynamics that come together and I am looking forward to reading the other stories, James is next with his bottled up feelings, it will be interesting if a city girl will help him. All the secondary characters are important and add much to the story; of course there are the three brothers but the addition of another brother and the presence of Cass everywhere they look will play pivotal roles in the future.

The story pace works well, there is the family drama that is present throughout but realize that there is an ongoing question that continues into the next book, of the sister’s unsolved murder. Branded is a wonderful start to a new series of a family that was separated by a crisis and is just beginning to emerge.

I give Branded by Laura Wright 4.25 stars!

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