This is, without a doubt, the darkest of the Montana books so far. If The Rancher’s Sonwas at times hard to read, this story made me want to read with my eyes closed at times. Justin broke my heart time and again. The hopelessness of his situation, and his determination to not endanger his family and friends, his certainty that he doesn’t deserve to be loved or that he’s incapable of feeling an emotion like love ever again; all of it made my heart ache because it was so very understandable. And yet, through all of Justin’s pain, while he’s fighting doubt and feelings of guilt and inadequacy, the one thing that keeps him grounded and stops him from falling apart altogether—or giving up and dying for that matter—is the presence of Sam. With Sam’s fingers in his hair, Justin can go on for another hour, another day.
So yes, this book made me feel all the feels, even if they were dark emotions for a large part of the book. They couldn’t be anything else. Nobody goes through what Justin has been forced to endure only to shrug it off again. So while I’m no good with angst and found it hard to live in Justin’s head at times, it all made perfect sense and I found myself grateful that the author had not given a miracle ‘love heals all’ sort of resolution to Justin.
In the two previous books we got to know Sam as a flirtatious and cheeky chap. This book shows there’s a lot more to the man. Underneath his lighthearted attitude hides a painful past he can’t completely shake. And that is probably the reason he is so good for Justin. Sam is not inclined to discuss his personal history with others and is willing, up to a point, to accept the same from Justin. When he does insist on answers it is because he thinks Justin needs to give them rather than a result of a personal need to know. All he knows is that he feels a connection to the man who was all but dead when he found him.
I’m not going to reveal exactly what Justin went through and had to do just to stay alive and keep himself from completely losing his mind. All of that should be revealed, as it is in this book, slowly and by Justin himself. Suffice to say that while there were moments when I wanted to shake him and tell him to just trust Sam and relax already, I spent most of my reading time wanting to wrap him up in my arms and keep him safe.
Overall this was an at times very hard to read, heartrending but ultimately fabulous and very satisfactory story that kept me on edge for longer than I’m usually comfortable with, only to lead me to the happy but not too perfect ending it needed. I can’t wait to read book four and spend more time with all of the Montana gang.