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Review ~ Back in the Saddle by J.R. Barten

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Gregory McKnight is not lucky in love. In fact, he feels like a downright failure, having had two partners leave him for someone else. So, instead of trying another relationship, Gregory focuses on what he does do well: run a business and raise his daughter, Kendall. Willing to do just about anything for his daughter, the single dad takes them on vacation to Colorado and books a weekend tour riding horseback in the mountains. For Kendall, it’s a dream come true. For Gregory, who has been afraid of horses since he was a kid, this is just another opportunity for him to fail.

Enter Cowboy Cooper, the tour’s lead guide and expert rider. The two men have an immediate connection, and while Cooper isn’t shy about making that known, Gregory is terrified of getting his heart broken again. They share an amazing night in the stables, but Gregory ultimately rejects the sweet Cowboy and leaves the ranch without saying good-bye. Knowing how her dad really feels about Cooper, Kendall convinces him that it’s time to get back in the saddle and take a chance on love. What Gregory and Cooper soon realize is that getting together was the easiest part. Can their relationship survive when they’re not even in the same time zone? Follow Gregory and Cooper from the mountains of Colorado to the lakes of Minnesota, where they navigate a relationship hampered by distance and insecurity, and finally find their happily-ever-after.

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3.5*

Not having read the blurb or reviews before I began I expected the story to be set on a ranch with loads of hot cowboys. Once I started reading, I liked the premise of a short vacation at a Cowboy Camp situated miles from home and meeting a potential future partner. Very romantic.

Cowboy Cooper has a very pleasant and patient personality. I liked him very much. He was the good guy in the story for me. He’s quite a bit younger than Gregory, not overly hunky or especially attractive, but he possesses a sexy voice that initially draws Gregory’s attention. Despite falling deeply for this dream of a cowboy within hours of seeing him in person, Gregory is torn between throwing himself into a new relationship and giving up before the first day is out. And this happens for much of the story. Although in his forties, Gregory is indecisive and comes across as insecure and a worrier. Gregory had been hurt by previous breakups, and that experience makes him dither about jumping into something new.

Insta-love happens for both men, which is feasible in real life and fiction. They declare their feelings early on and have no qualms about telling the other, which surprised me considering they had only just met. At the same time, Gregory doubts his feelings are reciprocated even though Cooper states they are, plus Gregory worries about maintaining a long distance relationship. This angst and indecision has Gregory wavering throughout much of the book and I could sympathize with Cooper when he snaps and tells him to make up his mind.

I would have preferred less agonizing about Cooper’s forthcoming visit and more details on their developing relationship after he stayed at Gregory’s house. The final two chapters were a blur of information and could have been fleshed out a lot more.

On the whole the story is well written, although I would have preferred it in past rather than present tense.

**Copy provided by the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review**

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Amazon.com / Amazon UK

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