3 out of 4 stars
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Bodie Hadley is still paying for a mistake he made years ago; a mistake that put him in the hospital and left another man dead. He carries scars on his body and in his soul that remind him of a careless moment made after sticking the ride of his life on one of the rankest bulls on the circuit. Caitlin Neisson is back home on the ranch after completing her graduate degree when her mother finally succumbed to injuries sustained in a bull attack ten years prior. On her deathbed, Caitlin’s mother made her promise to keep her younger brother safe when he reveals he wants to compete in bull riding. Caitlin makes it her mission to figure out the best way to keep her brother safe in the arena.
The Bull Rider’s Second Chance by Leah Vale is a Romeo and Juliet of the rodeo world. As Caitlin turns to Bodie for help in training herself and her brother to stay safe in the ring, she must come to terms with the fact that it was her cousin who died as a result of Bodie’s post-ride grandstanding. Additionally, she must navigate the reactions of her overprotective male family members who don’t want her to pursue her idea of being a rodeo clown nor approve of her falling for Bodie Hadley. To make it all worse, it appears that someone may be trying to intentionally hurt Caitlin while making it look like an accident.
Who doesn’t love a rodeo romance? They have everything a girl could want: macho cowboys, strong women, and lots of action. This novel delivers on all three points. While it takes place during a single multi-day rodeo event, the story spans decades of history between two families. Vale packs a lot of history and backstory into the novel without it ever feeling like too much is being dropped on the reader at one time. There is a nice balance between humor and action while allowing a romance to develop between Bodie and Caitlin. The story follows the predictable path of most romance novels, but there is still enough mystery to be surprised at the conclusion. The Western theme was well portrayed and added interest to the story.
The Bull Rider’s Second Chance is a very well-edited book; however, the writing style of the author can tend to be overly simple. The characters quickly fall into their designated generic romance novel roles, and Caitlin isn’t always portrayed in the most realistic light. Her plan to learn how to be a rodeo clown in order to keep her brother safe is about as absurd as her brother deciding to become a bull rider and being allowed to jump on a bull with zero experience. There is also the obligatory insta-love. While written in a quasi-new adult style, the actual love scenes were alluded to once the down and dirty started.
All in all, The Bull Rider’s Second Chance lives up to what it is promised to be: a light romance novel with horses, cowboys, and strong-willed women. This book would appeal to readers who enjoy romance novels that emphasize the buildup without overly explicit content. While it is suitable beach-read material, the writing style is just a little too green to award it more than 3 out of 4 stars.
The Bull Rider's Second Chance
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