Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Welcome Home, Cowboy by Annie Rains! I read the first book in this companion series, Welcome to Forever, last fall and fell in love with Kat and Micah. So I was thrilled to have the opportunity to read and review this second title.
WELCOME HOME, COWBOY
A Hero's Welcome Book Two
Releasing April 26th, 2016
With its thriving military base, Seaside, North Carolina, is teeming with heroes of all stripes. But, as the Hero’s Welcome series from Annie Rains continues, it takes a cowboy to rescue the town’s newest resident from heartache.
After a bad breakup leaves Julie Chandler completely devastated, she comes to Seaside seeking a fresh start. A talented, compassionate yoga teacher, she has developed a program to help alleviate the effects of PTSD, but getting a bunch of bullheaded Marines into downward facing dog might be impossible. So Julie’s shocked when one of her first students dives in headfirst—and almost tempts her to take down her walls with his easy smile and electrifying touch.
Ever since Texas cowboy turned Marine pilot Lawson Phillips lost a crew member in a helicopter accident, he hasn’t been able to fly. When a psychologist orders him to attend, of all things, a yoga class, Lawson’s outraged—until he finds out Julie is the instructor. She’s beautiful, graceful, and completely guarded when it comes to his advances, but he’s determined to find out what makes her tick. Because underneath Julie’s hard shell is a woman Lawson knows he could fall for—and he’s not ready for the ride to end.
Lawson is struggling with the after-effects of losing a crew member when his helicopter was shot down in Afghanistan. He's less than thrilled when he is ordered to attend a weekly yoga class to help alleviate his stress but he'll do what it takes do get back in the air and off desk duty.
Julie and Lawson are not strangers and I liked that they already knew each other when the novel started. Lawson's best friend is married to Julie's sister (Micah and Kat from the first book in the series). They were more acquaintances than friends but their paths continued to cross and the chemistry continued to grow. Julie was gun-shy from her last relationship and this often led to her acting defensive and abrupt with Lawson. Sure, sometimes he was cocky but he was genuinely a good guy and his actions proved that again and again.
I loved the evolution of Lawson and Julie's relationship. From friendship, to friends with benefits, to the real thing - watching them navigate their feelings for each other was equal parts swoon worthy and frustrating. I was anxious for Julie to share her feelings with Lawson, and for Lawson to open up to Julie about his struggles with PTSD. But their hesitancy and reluctance felt completely realistic and made for a richer story.
Being married to a veteran who served for 20 years, I found that it was Lawson's story that really touched my heart. I hurt for his loss and the guilt he struggled with. He was such a good man and felt such a sense of responsibility to those he loved. It was easy to want a happy ending for him.
Welcome Home, Cowboy is on the sweeter side of romance but does have a few nice and steamy scenes. It is the second in the Hero's Welcome series but can easily be read as a stand-alone. I thoroughly enjoyed it and am already looking forward to the next book in the series.
Note: I was provided a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This does not change my opinion of the book or the content of this review.
“This belongs to you.” She took off the hat and went up on her tiptoes to put it back where it belonged. Their eyes locked as the movement brought them even closer together. Her heart bucked again, like a wild horse ready to bolt.
Returning to flat feet, she started to step away. Needed to step away. Too bad Bon-Bon was still behind her, blocking her escape.
“Julie?” he said, making her feet pause and her heart stutter. She liked the sound of her name on his lips. Low, deep.
“Yes?” she asked breathlessly.
He reached out his hand to tame a strand of her hair brushing against her cheek. “You have what I call hat-hair.” He took his time smoothing the hair around her ear, awakening every nerve in her body. Then he slowly dipped, keeping his blue-as-the-ocean eyes on hers, and kissed her.
She melted into him instead of stepping away. The side of his cheek on hers was warm and inviting, intoxicating. His tongue tapped softly against hers, just once, as he swept his hand behind her neck, pulling her gently toward him.
A soft moan escaped her throat, betraying her. She parted her lips for him, inviting him in, begging him to stay, which he did for just a moment longer. Then he broke it off, keeping it sweet. The kiss had threatened to be more, though. It had threatened to take her inside that barn, lay her down on a blanket of hay, and be a whole hell of a lot more.
“See you later, Lawson,” she said, forcing herself to step away from him, away from the horse and the barn. She turned toward her car and didn’t look back. Otherwise, her hormones were going to win and drag this cowboy into the barn and slam the stall doors behind them.
“See you later, Julie,” he called after her.