Second Chance Cowboy by A.J. Pine (Crossroads Ranch #1)
Released: February 27, 2018
Reviewed by Mandi
After Jack’s mother died when he was a teenager, his father took a dark, deep turn into alcohol. This resulted in him also being physically abusive to his three sons. All Jack wanted to do was leave his town and start life over somewhere far away. While in high school he fell in love with a girl named Ava. She was sweet and kind and everything he wanted – but he knew he couldn’t stay near his father. He leaves his small town, and his family ranch and becomes a lawyer in San Diego.
But Ava isn’t the only person he leaves behind. Right before he leaves, Ava finds out she is pregnant. But she doesn’t tell Jack. For ten long years she keeps it a secret – because he broke her heart when he left, and the one time she thought to tell him, she saw him with who she thought was his future wife (are these really good reasons to keep this secret?? I will discuss in a minute).
Ten years after all of this, Jack’s dad dies and he comes back home for the funeral. It is here he is reunited with Ava, meets her ten-year old son, realizes it is his and needs to make decisions. He was offered a promotion at work, but that means moving across the country to New York. His father had invested in a local vineyard, which his two brothers do not want. Ava also works at a vineyard….so they now have a common interest besides their son.
Secret babies is a tricky trope for me. I need solid reasons for the baby to be kept a secret. The reasons Ava uses to keep her son a secret from his father in this one makes no sense to me. I think it’s really unfair for the kid and the dad to not know the other exists. A phone call, a text, an email – these are all things one can use to break news to someone. Then if the dad acts like a dick and doesn’t want to be part of the kid’s life – then you can be angry and keep him away etc.. Ava gets angry, admittedly irrationally angry, that Jack was not there to support her – for a kid he knew nothing about.
“You – you were getting married after I’d spent years changing diapers at four in the morning…joining the preschool PTO because yes, there was one…buying two extra car seats because the only way to be included in the carpool clique was to have all of the necessary equipment!”
But – he didn’t know. So…..?
I do enjoy second chance love stories – but I wish in this one that Jack and Ava had a little more tension in their relationship once reunited. They start a physical relationship really quick and it just felt like a bit of a let down. There are issues that arise because Jack is still dealing with feelings about his late, alcoholic father and what that means for him now that he is a dad. And he has two brothers who run the ranch – both presented as moody and gruff…a good set-up for future books.
I guess it comes down to the facts that I didn’t like the secret baby trope (the way it was handled) and the romance just seemed too pleasant after all the secrets and years apart. There was something missing for me.