A Guest Review by Aunt Lynn
Ryan Putnam has lost everything. Laid off from teaching high school and dumped by his lawyer boyfriend, he has nowhere else to go but his childhood home—the Good Fortune ranch. He plans to take the summer to regroup and start over. He never expects to be smitten with a cowboy. Especially not a cowboy like Teo Mendez, who is everything Ryan’s ex-boyfriend is not.
Four years after his wife’s death, Teo Mendez has returned to what he loves the most—working the land. He believes the Good Fortune ranch is the perfect place to build a new life for his son, Antonio. When his boss’s brother Ryan shows up to work, the other man’s haunted eyes reminds Teo of everything he has lost as well. So he offers the only thing he can—his friendship. But it doesn’t take long for Ryan to reawaken long dormant emotions and desires.
Ryan doesn’t intend to find a relationship. Teo doesn’t want to complicate his life with a fling. What they have between them, however, is too powerful to ignore.
Fortune’s Return is the second book by this wonderful and talented author duo in the Good Fortune Ranch series behind the het Fortune’s Honor (which is the story of one of Ryan’s brothers Clay and his wife Paige). I did not read the first book — I didn’t know it was a series until after — and I can say that you don’t have to in order to appreciate this one (though as I was reading FR, I felt that there was a backstory that I missed on Clay and Paige, and Ryan’s mother, but it never interfered).
Having lost everything but his kin, Ryan returns to the family ranch to regroup and lick his wounds. His teaching position was eliminated because of budget cuts and his longtime lover wanted a more successful partner than an out-of-work public high school math teacher. He’s hurt, he’s confused, and he knows that coming home is a good thing. Big brother Clay and his wife, Paige, their children and the ranch hands are a supportive bunch, and though the person he really wants to see and be with — his mother — isn’t around any longer, he hopes his healing can begin as soon as he turns off the ignition in the drive. He is immediately attracted to the new hand, Teo, a quiet, big and strong, single father of seven-year-old Tony. Assuming Teo is straight, he stews in his attraction quietly, not realizing that bi Teo is simmering right back. Once they figure it all out, Ryan and Teo both realize that this could be the chance to get everything they’ve ever dreamed of: a family.
I loved this well-written, long-ish tale that is ultimately about family: what makes a family, the importance of family, the “blood is thicker than water” aspect of family. The plot centers around the relationship between these two men and not much else (though Tony, or Antonio as his father calls him, plays a large part of that relationship). They both came to the Good Fortune to fix their lives for different reasons, never thinking that they’d find more — friendship, love and the chance at real happiness — but that’s what happened. As Teo says to Ryan “This isn’t what I expected, you know. I came here for Antonio, for our future. I didn’t expect to find you, too.” But that’s not to say our heroes don’t have difficulties; how to explain it all to Tony, estranged family members, a jerk of an ex, and misunderstandings all seem to present challenges and complications.
I really liked these characters and how they are together. Ryan and Teo are likeable, normal guys. Though Ryan is having some life-altering issues, I never felt a “poor me” attitude coming from him. He could conceivably be relationship-shy after his experience, but he’s not. Teo is obviously a great father, but he’s also a man trying to have a relationship with another man; balancing his lust and desire while keeping his son safe is a delicate balance at times.
The secondary cast is also made up of ordinary people. Teo’s son Tony is a wonderful character; oftentimes children are written poorly in these books (either like little adults or as brats), but not here. Rodeo-riding youngest brother Ty (who I understand had a larger role in the first book as the former fiancé of Paige) makes an appearance and I suspect we’ll see a story about him next.
I thought the story was well-plotted with a nice, gentle, even pace. I liked that there was no rush for the smexxin, though when it came, it was hawt. I did find several editing errors that while present, weren’t terribly distracting.
As many of you know, I am not a fan of the Big Misunderstanding plot device to create conflict and drama —in most cases, I want to wring the protags’ necks because if only they talked and listened instead of reacted, they wouldn’t have been in the mess! — but it worked here for me. Though I saw it coming for miles, it was a believable situation with a believable resolution, so I will let it go. g
Fortune’s Return is a wonderful read if you’re looking for a well-written romance with family at its core. I highly recommend it.