5 out of 5 Stars
*I was provided a copy of Vaughn’s Pride by the author in exchange for an honest review. I am not compensated for my honest opinion.*
Everyone in Big Sur knows Vaughn Jenkins and T.J. Brisco are meant to be together, but life has a way of slapping a man down and putting him in his place. First was the death of Vaughn’s parents when he was seventeen, and now the loss of part of his leg once again pushes him away from the love of his life. Vaughn will never be the man T.J. deserves to have by her side.
T.J.’s loved only one man her whole life—Vaughn. She’d do anything for him. Anything except get pushed away yet again and be expected to sit around and wait for Vaughn to realize he’s worth her love. The sensible head on her shoulders says it’s time to move on. If only her heart would fall in line with that plan.
Vaughn’s Pride is the second book in the California Cowboys series and can be read as a standalone, but book one was so good you might want to read Cade’s Loss first anyway. The stories surround three brothers who tragically lost their parents and inherited one of the biggest ranches in California. Vaughn is the youngest brother and lives his life working the land. Someday he wants to be able to have a farm of his own for himself and T.J., but when an accident takes part of his lower leg and he’s unable to lead the active life he once led, he has nothing left to give her. Pride keeps him from letting her back into his life.
I loved these characters, both past and present versions of them. The author gave glimpses of their history at the beginning of each chapter, which added to the connection I felt to them and their relationship. Vaughn’s pride might’ve felt misplaced at times, but having witnessed their history of best friends turned lovers and their ultimate childhood downfall gave clearer insight into just how devoted he was to T.J. and why he couldn’t let her love him when he didn’t feel he had anything to offer her.
Seeing things from T.J.’s perspective made it even harder to watch him push her away, but character growth continually fueled their connection. Watching them recognize the changes in themselves and each other brought a warm satisfaction you don’t find in every second chance romance.
One of the key factors in any 5-star read for me is the ability of the author to draw me in immediately and keep me invested in the lives of the characters. Ms. Laurence delivered in spades. I hurt for and loved both Vaughn and T.J., turning page after page right up until the end. And having been the second book in the series I couldn’t put down, I’m highly anticipating the final book about the middle Jenkins brother, Ty.
All of my reviews of Ms. Laurence’s work can be found on the Author Spotlight tab.