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The Bull Rider's Valentine (Mustang Valley) Kindle Edition
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Six years earlier, Nate and Ronnie had been a couple in love, with good rodeo careers and a baby on the way. Then a freak accident at Nationals had caused Ronnie to lose the baby. Then Nate had put together a romantic Valentine's evening, ending with a marriage proposal. He was devastated and heartbroken when she turned him down and walked away. Neither had handled it well, causing great turmoil in both their lives.
I enjoyed the rekindling of Nate and Ronnie's relationship. Both of them had needed to do some maturing, as well as learning how to forgive themselves and each other. Nate had gone into a depression, losing his rodeo career and endorsements, leaving him pretty much broke and broken. After spending six years drifting from job to job, he's finally ready to put his life back together. That includes seeing if there's anything left between him and Ronnie. Ronnie couldn't handle the guilt she felt over the loss of the baby. Rather than face Nate and the anger and resentment she was sure he was hiding, she ran home to Mustang Valley and refused to see him again. She's not happy to see him, as his arrival stirs up emotions she'd thought were well buried.
I liked Nate. He's sweet, romantic, and a really sensitive guy. I loved his stories about the brother he had taken care of and how that influenced his future behavior. I liked his determination to talk to Ronnie and clear the air about their past, and how he knew when to push and when to back off. I ached a bit for him as Ronnie did her best to keep him at a distance. I liked Ronnie, too, although she did frustrate me a little bit. Her actions after the proposal seemed unnecessarily cruel. As her reasoning was revealed, I wanted to shake her, because so much pain could have been avoided if she had just talked to him about her fears and feelings. As they worked together to help Sam and run the recreational rodeo, they slowly began to get to know each other again. Things were looking good for them until something happened that brought back Nate's fears and insecurities, which Ronnie had trouble dealing with. I liked the way her eyes got opened by a conversation with her younger sister. I also loved Theo's surprise solution to Nate's problem. The epilogue was sweet and romantic, though not much of a surprise, in spite of the earlier agreement between Nate and Ronnie.
I liked catching up a little with Ronnie's sisters, Mel and Frankie, but I especially liked seeing more of Sam. It's great to see her settling in with the family, despite their rocky beginning. She still has her moments, especially in the lead-up to Nationals, but overall it's a vast improvement over her introduction. I also adored Theo. He's a crusty, ornery old cowboy who isn't handling his health issues very well. I could feel and understand his frustrations at his limitations. I loved how he and Nate connected and how Nate was able to help him without making him feel like a useless old man. I really enjoyed his straight-talk and advice to Nate and how they ended up helping each other.