The Second Time Around

Title: The Second Time Around
Author: Rowan McAllister
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: September 11, 2018
Page Count: 200
Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Read book blurb here

Jordan Thorndike was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, but that doesn't mean his life has been an effortless or happy one. Jordan is burdened with his father's expectations that he become a lawyer, although Jordan is just going through the motions. After coming out to his parents, he is left with a fancy car and little money of his own. In desperation, Jordan returns to the Second Time Around Rescue Ranch, where he and his mother spent several summers as volunteers, and where he especially feels a kinship to the horses the ranch rescues and rehabs.

I liked the plot as Jordan attempts to figure out his next step, and finds that helping the rescue animals helps himself as well. The mission of the rescue ranch and how they work with the community and sponsors held my interest and I liked the secondary characters involved with the ranch, especially the ranch's director Phyllis.

What didn't work for me as well was the relationship between Russ and Jordan. Jordan is a people-pleaser and he desperately tries to keep a smile on his face despite the heartache inside. The only tools he'd ever been given by his family were "Supress. Lock it away. Be proud. Be strong. Don't let the world see you hurt..." And no matter what he does he just can't win with ranch hand Russ. Russ believes Jordan to be a self-centered rich kid and nothing is going to change his mind. Russ' disdain is abundantly apparent, and then in the space of a few pages (around 45% through the book), Russ goes from an angry tirade to kissing Jordan, telling him "Baby, I've wanted you since the second you stepped out of that shiny red sports car of yours. I just didn't want to admit it." Wait, what?

Personally, I found it hard to become invested in their relationship because Russ is such a colossal a$$. And once Russ has moved on, he automatically expects Jordan to forgive him. As Jordan says
"You weren't exactly impressed with me from day one," he pointed out.
Russ grimaced. "I though we'd been over that and put it to bed already. I said I was sorry for prejudging. I told you I wanted you the whole time. What more do you need me to say?"
Now, I realize other readers may not have such a strong dislike of Russ, but this dislike colored my perception of the story. In the last pages of the book, Jordan says: "Russ, you know I'm still a mess, right? I mean, I'm working on it. I'm happy .... ecstatic really, that you and Phyl want me as part of your family, but I"m still kind of a mess." To which Russ tells him ".... I told you I'd be the happiest man in Texas to call you my mess." Not quite sure whether he liked that, Jordan stood frozen at the stove until Russ threw him another grin and said "Come on, slowpoke. We got work to do."

Jordan, sweetie, you deserve better. 3 stars.

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