THE LAST GOOD COWBOY – Kate Pearce
Morgan Ranch , Book 3
Morgantown, California – Present Day
After spending years on the rodeo circuit acting mostly as his twin brother's “keeper,” Ry Morgan has had enough and is going to head home to the ranch to help his family rebuild it. Of course, returning to Morgantown means the possibility of running into the one woman he's never forgotten: Avery Hayes. Ry was mad for Avery when they were in high school, but after a childish prank by his twin, HW, things ended badly between them. It turns out that Avery is helping with the planning of the wedding between his brother, Chase, and his fiancée, January. Being around one another again has the sparks rekindling between Ry and Avery.
Avery had plans to be a pro barrel racer, but that dream ended when she was badly injured years ago. It took years for her to recover, and her family still coddles her, but she has moved on, despite still being afraid of horses. She also can't forget the humiliation suffered in high school when HW pretended to be Ry and kissed her. But Ry insists he's grown up and he wants her forgiveness. It takes some patience and persistence, but they're soon dating. Ry is being helpful to Avery and encourages her to broaden her wings beyond working in her parents' hotel, but after the painful recovery from her accident, she's hesitant. But the deeper their relationship grows, the more that Avery wonders if Ry is taking on the responsibility of her, rather than letting her stand on her own two feet.
Before Ry's mother mysteriously left the boys years ago, she told him to take care of his twin. Ry has always been there for HW, but now he's feeling smothered, especially since his twin doesn't seem to have a care in the world for Ry's feelings. At least by returning home to work on the ranch he's doing something that his family will be grateful for, and he gets a second chance to reconnect with Avery. She is like the one that got away, and now he's going to reclaim her. She is leery of Ry at first, mainly because he is such a charming lothario and she's afraid of losing her heart to him again, but being around him has her relaxing, and it feels so right being with him. But Avery's family thinks she still needs coddling. Can she convince them that she's now a grown woman?
Avery's injuries were the result of a horse landing on her and have left emotional scars on her long past the healing of the physical scars. Of course, being on the Morgan Ranch means there are horses around, and Ry tries to get Avery to trust horses again in hopes that one day she'll ride one. Avery isn't the only one with emotional scars: Ry may have only been five years old when his mother left, but he still remembers the pain of her favoring HW over him. He still has unexplained nightmares that he hasn't yet deciphered, but after experiencing one around Avery while they're in bed one night, he begins to talk about them in order to sort it out. In THE LAST GOOD COWBOY, some answers are found to what happened to the brothers' mother and sister, which has been the ongoing mystery in the Morgan Ranch series. While this tale can be read as a standalone without too much of a problem, it's helpful to have read the others (THE RELUCTANT COWBOY and THE MAVERICK COWBOY) to get a sense of the other characters.
A reunion that turns into an emotional journey for Ry and Avery in THE LAST GOOD COWBOY makes their story both entertaining and sizzling.