Kari Lynn Dell is a prime example of a good writer telling a genuinely great story by writing what they know, and what Kari Lynn knows is really different to most of the rest of us. Living on the Blackfeet Nation reservation, steeped in the rodeo business since childhood, she tells stories that feel authentic because she doesn’t need to go away and research the things she doesn’t know. She’s sharing what’s in her heart, her love of horses and the rodeo and the truth of the Blackfeet, and it makes for shining, unique stories that are a genuine joy to read.
David’s a calf roper who’s lost the horse which upgraded him from good to exceptional. Without his treasured Muddy, he’s drifting without an anchor, so when a friend brings him a genuine sighting of the missing horse, David’s willing to do just about anything to get him back. But it’s not gonna be that simple, because Muddy now belongs to Kylan, a Blackfeet teen with special needs, and Kylan’s protective aunt Mary is in full tigress mode.
Kylan was very much a part of this story, just as much as the romantic pairing of David and Mary, and I found Kari Lynn’s portrayal of a teenager born with fetal alcohol syndrome and struggling with finding his path in life to be both sensitive and realistic. His future and happiness became just as much David’s concern as Mary’s, and that was absolutely necessary for their romance to be believable, but to some extent I think we needed more time in Mary’s point of view because almost the whole story was in David’s head, which is pretty unusual for a romance. We never got much insight into what Mary was thinking and feeling, and I do think we needed to see more of her inner narrative, because there came a point in the story where I was absolutely furious about something she’d done and we never got to really hear her reasoning for it. It was pretty late in the book and honestly, I just wanted David to walk away. He’d been totally honest from the beginning and had every right to absolutely lose it.
I really want to give this five stars because there are so many good things about it, but a romance which makes me dislike the heroine for a pretty long-running integrity failure has some serious issues. Four stars, but it’s a genuinely excellent read in every other respect.
Last Chance Rodeo is available now.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for review via NetGalley.