On Tour with Prism Book Tours.
The Christmas they never had.
James Cade has one priority: keep the family ranch running smoothly in the wake of his younger brother’s death. With Jesse’s ex, Sofia Gallardo, and her young son, Javi, stranded at Cade Ranch over Christmas, this task just got a lot harder. The longer Sofia and Javi stay, the harder it is to imagine the ranch without them. James couldn’t save his brother from his inner demons, but he can give his nephew a secure future. Maybe more—if he can figure out how to trust Sofia, and stop feeling like he’s betraying Jesse. Because trying to stop thinking about beautiful, determined Sofia is impossible.
Excerpt Four: (Be proud of your struggles, your failures. They make you who you are, a better, stronger person. – Teaser)
“Honey, you’ll always be an addict.” Sofia cringed inside the down jacket Joy patted. “One of my biggest regrets with Jesse was how I always tried carrying on like normal, thinking if I gave him the same loving home as always, he’d come to his senses and become himself again.”
Sofia startled. Wasn’t that what she was trying to do with her own life? Portland would give her a chance at a normal existence without reminders of who she’d been.
“You loved him, Joy.” She blinked her eyes against the stinging rush rising inside them.
“Yes. But he also needed my understanding. My unconditional love. He needed me to love and support him for who he was, not who I wanted him to be. I never accepted that side of him, and he must have felt so lonely.”
“You were doing your best,” Sofia murmured, thinking of herself and how lonely she’d been as an addict, a sensation she could only escape with the next hit. Would she feel lonely again when Javi grew up and moved out? Would her addiction return to fill the void without, as James put it, Javi to stay sober for?
Joy pressed the end of her scarf to each eye while her other hand kept pat-pat-patting away at any part of Sofia it could reach.
“I was being selfish, honey. Jesse had changed and I wouldn’t change with him. I lied to myself and acted like his time in rehab was just him leaving home for a spell. And when he was passed out, I told myself he was sick and made him soup. When he came home, I never asked any questions. The less said, the quicker we could move on. Pretend like it didn’t happen. Stuck my head right in the sand and lost my baby because of it.”
Joy dropped her head in her hands and her shoulders shook.
“Oh, Joy. No. No. It’s not your fault.” Sofia wished for a safe spot to pull over but the road’s shoulders were piling up with snow right out into the lane.
“It is my fault. I’m his mother and I failed him. There just isn’t anything worse you can do in life than fail your own children.”
The air in the car pressed humid and close. “Jesse wouldn’t blame you, Joy.”
Joy lifted her head and pressed her scarf to her damp cheeks. “He wouldn’t. But that doesn’t make it any less true. But now that you’re here, I have a second chance to get this right.”
Sofia’s heart thumped. Javi had brought Joy out of her grief. Would she fall back into her depression when they left for Portland? And what about her own feelings? She hated thinking about leaving a place, a group of people that were becoming more and more dear to her…a family.
“I’m so grateful for everything you’re doing for Javi.” Sofia gently pressed the brake, careful not to lock up as the wind swept a wide swath of snow from one side of the road to the other.
“I wasn’t talking about Javi.”
Sofia flicked her a surprised sideways glance. “What?”
“You’re my second chance, Sofia. I can get this right by showing you that I care and accept you for who you are. Yes. Part of that person is an addict. And that might be the part of you I care about most since it’s the part that’s the hardest to love and the most deserving. If I’d loved Jesse—all of Jesse—that way, maybe he wouldn’t have hidden himself from me.”
Sofia felt a strange numb sensation begin in her feet, steal up her legs, then into her chest and heart, stopping it momentarily.
“You love me?”
No one had ever loved her for her…all of her.
“I do. And Javi does, too. Don’t ever hide any bit of yourself. Be proud of your struggles, your failures. They make you who you are, a better, stronger person.”
“I don’t always feel strong.” Her gut clenched at the admission. She needed to believe in her own invincibility. Never wanted to think of the chinks in her armor. She ran from anyone or anything that shone too bright a light on those weaknesses.
Yet he’d almost kissed her, and somehow, in that moment, she’d felt worthy of it.
Was she deserving of love? Acceptance?
What can I say? Another Karen Rock book that is a Harlequin Heartwarming and she hits it out the park for me. There is something about an author that can write emotional, at times raw, heartwarming romance like this and then funny young adult books. I couldn’t wait to dive into this book and dive I did.
This book is about addiction and the after effects that linger well past being clean. I wish I could have known Jesse Cade. Just listening to his mother and siblings, he sounded like a really good person. Even Sofia really couldn’t say a bad thing about him in the end. I’ve seen addiction in my own family. My brother still struggles every day with it so I could identify with the Cade family in that sense. I’m was glad that Sofia went to NA meetings. But it did bother me a bit that James was the one that told Javi about her.
There are a lot of issues that come to light throughout the book in regards to Jesse and how it greatly affected his entire family; not just Sofia and Javi. This is a family that will always grieve for Jesse but also needs to get some understanding of what he did and the why through Sofia. Sofia is a great character. I could see her strength when she didn’t; her ability to love even when she felt like she wasn’t lovable but more importantly, how she really was trying to be a better person and parent for Javi.
I didn’t like James in the beginning. Yes, I didn’t. Too controlling, at times self-righteous and basically a douche when it came to Sofia’s motives or lack thereof. When he finally started to warm to Javi, my heart melted a bit but it wasn’t until he realized that he was truly going to lose Sofia and Javi, that I fell for him. Stubborn man. Fiercely loyal to his family, it was almost like he resented Sofia for living instead of Jesse. Like I said, this book is very emotional, raw at times and deals with a lot of family issues. Sure there is a romance and it’s sweet but also swoon-worthy. It just takes a while for the true romance part to come to light. Not complaining. They had to work through it to get to that point.
I can’t wait to see what Ms. Rock has in store for the other Cades. I can’t wait to get an update on James, Javi, and Sofia. Plus, I must know about the feud and hopefully, Joy and Boyd will find some happiness in the end. Oops, I said too much. 😉
About the Author
In a quest to provide her ELA students with quality reading material, educator Karen Rock read everything out there and couldn’t wait to add her voice to the genre. In addition to her work as a Young Adult romance novelist, she’s now an author for Harlequin’s Heartwarming line and thrilled to pen stories that moms can share with their teenage daughters. She’s loved Harlequin books since she spent summers going through her grandmother’s Presents books that she passed along in paper grocery bags each year. As half of the writing duo J.K. Rock, Karen also pens young adult romance. When she’s not busy writing, Karen enjoys scouring estate sales for vintage books, cooking her grandmother’s family recipes, reinventing her gardens to suit her moods and occasionally rescuing local wildlife from neighborhood cats. She lives in the Adirondack Mountain region with her husband, her very appreciated beta-reader daughter, and two Cavalier King cocker spaniels, who have yet to understand the concept of “fetch” though they know a lot about love. For more information about Karen’s upcoming books, check out her website.
Other Heartwarming Books by the Author
Katie’s Clean Book Collection
It’s All About the Romance
underneath the covers
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Slice of Life
Jorie Loves A Story
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Ever After Book Reviews
Thoughts of a Blonde
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Getting Your Read On
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November 11th: Grand Finale
– 1 winner will receive a $50 Amazon gift card along with print copies of HIS KIND OF COWGIRL, UNDER AN ADIRONDACK SKY AND A COWBOY TO KEEP by Karen Rock, TO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH by Elizabeth Lowell, THOSE TEXAS NIGHTS by Delores Fossen and FAMILY TREE by Susan Wiggs.
– US Only.
– Ends November 15th