Rating: 4.25 stars
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Malloy came to the J-Bar Ranch at age fourteen a foster child, one of Mr. Jenkins’ rescues, and stayed because it had always felt like home. Now the foreman of the ranch, Malloy does best to keep his distance emotionally and physically from everyone while striving to make Mr. Jenkins, the man Malloy considers more of a father than a boss, proud.
Enter Crispin Carrasco, the young, vibrant, talkative, new ranch hand, not to mention the only openly gay ranch hand Malloy knows. Never having been attracted to men, Malloy finds himself confused and afraid of his attraction to Crispin. Between Crispin’s non-stop chatter, protecting him from overzealous ranch hands, and his seemingly hot and cold attraction to Malloy, Crispin becomes a bit of an enigma at the J-Bar. When his painful past comes back to haunt him, Crispin turns to Malloy for comfort.
After a push and pull beginning to their tentative relationship, Malloy gives into his attraction to Crispin regardless of the judgments from the other ranch hands. And just as he and Crispin start building on that relationship, tragedy strikes leaving Malloy feeling lost and alone with hopes that, if nothing else, Crispin will be there to catch him if he falls.
Cowboys, conflict, insecurities, and love – that’s what Maxfield gives her readers in My Cowboy Heart. I have a soft spot for cowboys, as some of you well know. And I always enjoy a macho story of confusion and conflict, so this story was right up my alley.
I really liked Malloy and Crispin. Malloy is the stereotypical stoic cowboy, but his head and his heart are conflicted. He has a past that has haunted him his entire life and he refuses to make emotional connections for fear of disappointment or heartbreak. I don’t want you to think that this is a gay-for-you story, because it’s not. It’s more of a late bloomer story. Malloy discovers who he is with the arrival and subsequent attraction to Crispin. Crispin is this bright, bubbly light on the J-Bar. He causes an uproar among the hands of the J-Bar – anger, attraction, confusion. But his character is exactly what Malloy needs to grow and find himself. I liked Crispin, I did. But he’s young and maybe it could be attributed to his age, but the constant jumping to conclusions or saying something he didn’t mean and then apologizing for saying it and expecting immediate forgiveness got old after the first couple of times.
I enjoyed the conflict in this story the most. Malloy suffered the most in his head – fighting his attraction to Crispin, fighting his demons, fighting the other employees of the ranch. He keeps his distance from the people that love him, namely the Jenkinses who want nothing more than to be his family. He lives in a lonely world of his own making and doesn’t know how to change it. Whereas, Crispin does have his own issues, Malloy personality was molded from his past. And then along comes the young man who shatters his barriers and leaves him feeling unstable. I won’t lie. There are some hard subjects that are part of this book – drug use, foster care, child molestation, but none are on page. They build this story, make it emotional and real.
My Cowboy Heart is a sweet story of unexpected love and growth. It’s a story of life and moving on. It’s touching and emotional and precious. I recommend My Cowboy Heart by Z.A. Maxfield.