Lone Heart Pass by Jodi Thomas


This RITA® Reader Challenge 2017 review was written by Kate KF. This story was nominated for the RITA® in the Mid-Length Contemporary category.

The summary:

In a story that carves into the breathtaking romance of two lonely souls, New York Times bestselling author Jodi Thomas paints a gripping story of survival as she unlocks the legends of Ransom Canyon 

With a career and a relationship in ruins, Jubalee Hamilton is left reeling from a fast fall to the bottom. The run-down Texas farm she inherited is a far cry from the second chance she hoped for, but it and its abrasive foreman are all she’s got.

Every time Charley Collins has let a woman get close, he’s been burned. So Lone Heart ranch and the contrary woman who owns it are merely a means to an end, until Jubalee tempts him to take another risk—to stop resisting the attraction drawing them together despite all his hard-learned logic.

Desperation is all young Thatcher Jones knows. When he leads an injured Steeldust horse to a ramshackle ranch, he needs help. A horse-stealing ring is on his trail and the sheriff suspects him…and his only protection is the shelter of a man and woman who—just like him—need someone to trust.

Where family bonds are made and broken, and where young love sparks as old flames grow dim, Ransom Canyon is ready to welcome—and shelter—those who need it.

Here is Kate K.F.’s review:

Lone Heart Pass is a sweet book that has too many stories going on and while by the end many of them are resolved, at the end, I felt unsatisfied. This is the first Jodi Thomas that I’ve read and I chose it because I’ve been wanting to read a western romance and she seems to be a reliable author. I don’t think I’d read another. As this book has so many plots in it, I’m going to review each one on its own.

Plotlines:

Charley and Jubilee – Both cut off from their families, running out of chances and don’t feel themselves ready for or wanting romance. He has a five year old daughter and takes what jobs he can. She was recently fired and dumped after working on a number of unsuccessful elections. Both of their family issues were never truly dealt with: there was no explanation for why her family treats her the way they do nor respects her choices.

At one point, her sister even appears on the farm and is basically ignored. She becomes a reason for Charley and Jubilee to be closer to each other, but there’s no real discussion of the family issues. There was a hinted conflict that came to nothing.

His family kept being mentioned but never actually appeared which made me wonder why they were talked about so much. From what I know of small town books, they must have a series connected to them and it was important to check in. The daughter was a well done plot moppet, cute but with a personality so the relationships with her felt authentic. I liked her chicken coop shaped like a castle.

The resolution of the romance felt odd. I liked that their intimacy grew over time as they worked with each other but were both clearly wary of getting attached to anyone again. Though the way it went forward was strange, going from not touching to kisses to bed sharing and then finally sex but it felt like a lot of telling not showing. At the end when they became a couple, it was anti-climatic and kind of boring. There’s no sex in the story, only telling us and the descriptions were so cliche that I didn’t care.

The second time was slow and tender. He took his time learning her body and she did the same. They kissed deeply until she begged for more.

The third time was a white-hot passion rolling over them, then a sweet surrender of two souls.

Thatcher – Best plot in the entire story, I would read an entire book about him. Thatcher is a young man who’s raised himself and has a weird love of the phrase common-law marriage, as that’s what his mother has with her boyfriends, but it gets said to the point of distraction. He gets taken in and helped by Charley and Jubilee along with the Sheriff and slowly moves from being almost homeless to integrated. I loved the parts from his point of view as he felt like he’d escaped from a well written contemporary YA, and I wanted to know more about his girlfriend and how school goes and what happens next for him.

The sheriff, his daughter Lauren, and Tim O’Grady – The book begins with Thatcher finding a body and that sets up the central mystery of the plot, which pulls the various characters in. Lauren is the sheriff’s daughter who’s visiting from college. I liked her, but her storyline didn’t fit easily into the rest of the story. Also I had a hard time figuring out what her schedule was like as sometimes she was at college and other times working in town.

She has an unrequited crush on another guy that briefly appears and while she makes a choice of sorts, her point of view is mainly a way to check in on the sheriff. Tim is her neighbor. They’ve been friends for a long time and he’s a writer. At some points it seems like an alcoholic and that he’s in love with her. He suffered a trauma not too long ago and he’s recovering from that. Their relationship felt unbalanced and there’s this thread of his writing and her writing that never ended up resolved. At the end, the main thing that had changed was he was almost working for the sheriff’s department and they’d kind of talked about how he loved her and she didn’t love him. Yet they kept being quietly intimate with little kisses and holding each other. It would have been nice if they had simply been friends.

Many of the villains felt like cardboard cutouts, especially Jubilee’s family. I wanted to know why they treated her as they did and thought when her sister appeared, there would be a chance to dig into that. Overall this book left me feeling meh. If it was a TV show like Gilmore Girls with time to know everyone, I would have liked it better. As a book, there simply wasn’t enough depth and I give it a grade of C.

This book is available from:
Lone Heart Pass by Jodi Thomas

April 26, 2016

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