Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Sweet Spot by Laura Drake

Title: The Sweet Spot
Author: Laura Drake
My Rating: B+

Genre: Contemporary Romance 
Series: Sweet on a Cowboy #1
Main Characters: Charla and JB
Release Date: May 2013
Publisher: Forever
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: mild

Story Overview:
2014 RITA Winner for Best First Book

A Love as Big as Texas . . . 
Charla Rae Denny was the perfect wife with a perfect life, content to keep the home fires burning while her husband, JB, competed as a champion bull rider. Then their son died in a tragic accident-and everything fell apart. Divorced and saddled with a hill of bills and a failing ranch, Charla must now cowboy up to put her life back together.

James "JB" Denny doesn't stay where he isn't welcome. So when Charla shut him out of her grieving heart-and their home-a year ago, he took comfort where he could find it. Now after seeing beautiful Charla again, he wants it all back. She can't work the ranch alone, and deep in his heart he knows he can be the man she needs. But after so much history and heartbreak, can JB convince Charla to take a risk and give their love a second chance?

My Review:
I have to admit, I bought this book several months ago and went into reading it without re-reading the cover copy so I had no idea what the story was about. As a result, I was astounded at how close this book hit to home. It's about JB and Charla who got divorced a year ago after 22 years of marriage in the aftermath of grief from their 7 year old son's accidental death. They have a ranch in the Fredericksburg, TX area. 

(And this is an aside, but it explains how much this book hit me emotionally. I live 2 hours from Fredericksburg so that's an area I know very well since we visit there regularly. I've been married to my hubby for 22 years and we have an 7 yo daughter. It's so easy to put myself into these characters' place just because I'm right there and as such, I spent a lot of this book crying. I can't imagine how hard this situation would be. Honestly, I don't want to imagine it. Any of it.)

So, you know, this entire story starts with the death of a child and the emotional impact that it has on this couple. You know going into it that it's going to be emotional and it definitely was. I spent many scenes crying right along with Charla or JB. Obviously they are both devastated and instead of turning to each other in their grief, they let it cause a huge divide between that ended with them divorced. Now they are trying to pick up the pieces of life a year later. 

It's not an easy book, but it is one filled with hope. Hope that things do get better. I can't imagine anything worse than losing your entire family which is basically what happened to both of them. They are having to rebuild a base for the rest of their lives, but without one another. Something that was unfathomable to them before their child's death. Because they always had a good marriage, but grief is such a complex emotion and everyone reacts differently in their handling of it. The way that both of them handled it felt true, even if it was very difficult to read and experience through their story. But in going through that pain with them, it made their ability to overcome it that much sweeter.

The book does have a happy, well-earned and deserved ending. Both characters learn and grow so much although I personally enjoyed Charla's character arc more. Like her, I had a really hard time with the way JB reacted with his grief so it was more difficult to empathize with him. But it's an incredible story of hope and healing in the face of the worst trauma. I'm happy that I read it and immediately got online to order the other two books in the series because Laura Drake has a great writing voice. 

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