Cowboy to the Core
by Maisey Yates
Published June 18, 2019 by HQN Books
Goodreads Rating: 4.17 Stars
My Rating: 5/5 Stars
Jamie Dodge is confident she knows everything there is to know about cowboys. She grew up surrounded by them, after all. But somehow her new boss, champion saddle bronc rider Gabe Dalton, and his brand of cowboy charm have her interested in all kinds of things she never has been before.
There are a million reasons Gabe should ignore his attraction to Jamie. He needs her horse-training skills on his family’s ranch…and the Dodge brothers would happily hurt him for touching her. Forget kissing her. He’d be a dead man. But Jamie’s tough-talking attitude masks an innocence that tempts him past the breaking point…and soothes the restlessness that’s dogged Gabe his whole life. Has this cowboy finally found a place he wants to call home?
Maisey Yates flawlessly creates what we believe to be a stable foundation in the beginning of Cowboy to the Core. This is book six in the Gold Valley series, following Jamie Dodge who is the sister to the Dodge brothers and Gabe Dalton. We see Gabe back when Mckenna entered the picture in book 4 but it was only a small glimpse. Oh boy, am I glad Gabe got his own book.
By six books in, I went in under the assumption that I had things figured out. I thought I knew all the characters and by this point, it’s just time to see the single siblings left, find romances of their own. Well, Ms. Maisey Yates quickly showed me how wrong I was. Cowboy to the Core follows two very complicated people. Gabe and Jamie both all throughout this romance are grappling with their individual identity issues. Gabe has this fear of becoming his father who he has been angry at for years, before we gradually see him recognize how he was totally wrong about which parent he identified with the most and why. While Jamie was the sister raised by a widowed father and her brothers. She loves her life, but now that everyone is getting older and she sees her brothers settling down, her Dad has remarried and moved on..she no longer has to be the tough sister, ‘one of the boys,’ chick she has always been. Jamie for a big part of the book is trying to figure out who she is, how to occupy the space she’s in and who she’s becoming.
“They all knew something that she didn’t.”
Jamie begins working for Gabe helping on his ranch with the animals which is obviously where the two get to spend a lot of time together and get to know one another. Which leads to one night at a local bar when Jamie sees Gabe chatting it up with this ‘buckle bunny,’ and realizes she doesn’t want him chatting it up with this chick! This is where things begin to shift.
Gabe becomes the first for a few things for Jamie. It was a very frustrating ride, but we see Jamie knock the walls down that she had built around herself for so long, as her relationship with Gabe began to change and flourish. Gabe however, hits this point where he armors himself and Jamie calls him out on it:
“Don’t kiss me. Don’t kiss me if you don’t love me. Don’t touch me if you don’t love me.” She was shaking, rage pouring through her like a river. “Because I deserve better than that. Because I had to figure out what everything meant. And then once I did I offered it to you. I changed. And I dug deep. And I found a pieces of myself I didn’t even know were there for you. And you want to stand there and tell me everything I don’t know. Want to tell me what I want, and how you have less growing to do. That’s bullshit, and I’m not here for it.”
I felt on a whole other level the beauty behind how finding love can help you grow as a woman, and help in the process of figuring out who you are and who you’re becoming. I loved seeing the growth in Jamie.
“In life, the only thing we can control is our own choices.”
So much of this romance is about choices, and I think Maisey Yates did a fantastic job of weaving such a complex story together with this theme at the center of it all. It was so damn beautiful and a true love story.
Gabe, oh Gabe. I have already come to accept the fact that cowboys are my thing. I love a hard working man who doesn’t mind getting a little dirty and is totally okay with spending most of his day outside. Gabe just melted my heart, especially with how alpha male he comes across, yet Jamie is totally able to hold her own around him. And until we get into the weeds and seeds of how much of himself he needs to work on.
I am a total sucker for the guy having to go get his girl, so of course I swooned as high as swoons can go at the end of this book. I adored it. I’m so thankful I received the next book from Harlequin. I need to know whose story is next. There were some new characters kind of/sort of introduced in this one, so I’m antsy to see if their presence is shown in the next one.
I can’t recommend this series enough. If you don’t want to go back and read al the previous books, I think you’ll be fine starting off with Cowboy to the Core, but there may be some confusion on certain back stories, like McKenna and the Dalton brothers.
Thanks for reading yet another Maisey Yates fangirl post.
Until next time, take care of yourselves.