“Some scars run soul-deep. Some scars only love can heal.”
Brody is the wrangler at Farthingdale Ranch. He knows a lot about horses, but not a whole lot about people.
He is so broken, he cannot imagine anyone would want to love him. Then along comes Kit, a young man in need of shelter, searching for a forever home.
In Kit, Brody sees the scared young man he used to be. In caring for Kit, Brody is in over his head.
But as Brody makes room in his heart for Kit, both their lives begin to change.
The Wrangler and the Orphan is book four in Jackie North’s Farthingale Ranch series; I haven’t read any of the others, but although characters from the other books appear in it, this one stands alone. It’s a hurt/comfort age-gap romance in which the two leads bond over just how far their lives mirror each other and how much they have in common, but although I generally like age-gap romances, they can be difficult to pull off successfully, and I’m afraid this one didn’t work for me.
Brody Calhoun, wrangler at Farthingdale Ranch, is preparing to head back to the ranch after running some errands in town, when he sees a young man crawling out of a basement window in the Rusty Nail bar. Brody recognises the kid as one that his friend Clay had stopped being smacked around by the bar’s owner a while back, and it doesn’t take him long to work out that he must be running away. Brody can’t help seeing a younger version of himself in the scared, bleeding youngster, and signals him to get in to the truck. He’ll take him back to the ranch and… well, he doesn’t quite know what to do long-term, but for now, he’ll get him cleaned up and fed and figure it out from there.
Kit Foster is nineteen and has spent his life being neglected and abused by his dead-beat mother Katie and her endless string of boyfriends, so much so that it’s become the norm for him. Her latest boyfriend was Eddie Piggot, owner of the Rusty Nail, but now she’s skipped town after stealing five thousand dollars from him, leaving Kit behind. Needless to say, Eddie is furious, and takes out that fury on Kit, who, with no money and nowhere to go, has to stay put and take what’s dished out. Until an especially vicious beating prompts him to finally get away and he squeezes out the basement window.
Thanks to spending his own child-and-young-adulthood with the abusive Daddy Frank, Brody immediately recognises the signs of similar trauma in Kit. At seventeen, Brody was rescued by trail boss Quint McKay, who showed him care and kindness and taught him that there is good in the world; now Brody decides it’s time for him to pay it forward, and that he’ll do whatever it takes to help Kit.
You can read the rest of this review at All About Romance.