Dear Ms. Davies:
I don’t know what prompted me to ask for this book for review but I note that it has languished in my TBR pile since late January. You are a new to me author and I had no expectations so I was pretty much an open slate.
Sam Quincannon is a paramedic or some kind of emergency response person in Four Corners. For years she has managed to avoid the rodeo gig where the EMTs would sit and wait to attend to the medical needs of the men and women of the rodeo but she wants into a special training program and her supervisor insists Sam confront her fears rather than hide from them as a condition precedent to acceptance into the program.
The first time back to the rodeo in 13 years and it seems that Sam’s past horror replays itself in real time as Cody Shaw, a former flame, gets bucked off an enraged bull. Sam’s last rodeo was when she, as a teen, saw her dad die from a rodeo accident.
Sam and her partner take Cody to the local emergency room where he is diagnosed with head trauma but once Cody regains consciousness, he has to be discharged. Lacking family and resources, Cody has no place to go so Sam steps up to take him in. Cody is determined to rejoin the circuit and compete for a national title and Sam has no desire to get involved with anyone associated with the rodeo. Her heart can’t take it.
The majority of the story takes place with Cody bed bound. On the one hand it places Sam in close proximity with Cody and on the other hand, because one protagonist was immobile, it made for a very sedate book. If I could quote the somewhat reviled Toby Keith, “A little less talk and a lot more action” would have helped to keep my attention.
The conflict is an obvious one and follows an expected path. Sam can’t get past her fears of the rodeo circuit and Cody won’t give it up. Sam, of course, is the one who needs the healing. I wasn’t thrilled, though, with Cody’s intractability. Rodeoing was something that defined Cody and the message seemed to be that Sam’s refusal to accept that made her small rather than Cody finding that he could be something without the rodeo.
There were about three subplot points that all could have been allotted more space and development. Sam’s fear of the rodeo circuit is intertwined with her sense of abandonment by the rodeo community. After her father died, the rodeo community failed to be there for her mother and herself. They were isolated and alone and Sam suffered more than just the loss of her father but also that of her extended family. I felt like this was an important issue for Sam and one that could have contributed to the character conflict but instead seemed to be superficially an issue brought up at random times. Cody hints at a past drug addiction but even that isn’t given much play.
Another issue was the small suspense plot inserted in the story that had nothing to do with Cody and Sam and everything to do with Sam and the rodeo. I wasn’t sure what the point was–whether it was to provide a dramatic point that would bring climax to the story or whether it was to provide action to a more narratively driven tale. The story is almost exclusively about Sam and her character growth. Cody is her love interest but his character arc seemed flat for me. (Or it could be that I focused in on Sam to the exclusion of Cody). This book was competent but it moved a bit too slowly for me and I felt like I had missed some important parts in Sam’s emotional development. C
Best regards, Jane
This book can be purchased in ebook format.