Series: Lost and Found #3
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Publication date: September 16, 2013
How I got it: I bought it!
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
There’s tortured. And there’s Garth Black.
His life has been a constant carousel of tragedy and disappointment, including his love life. Of course, applying the term “love” to Garth’s conquests is a gross misuse of the word. Some people were made to give and accept love, and others weren’t. Garth Black redefines the “others” category. He’s made a vow that the day he meets a woman who could sucker him into falling in love will be the day he runs away.
Garth’s plan has one flaw. What happens when he’s already fallen hard for a girl before the warning signs and red flags go up? What happens when the love he’s avoided his entire life brings him to his knees? What happens when Garth Black lets the dirtiest four letter word he’s ever known into his dark, lonely life?
This cowboy’s about to find out he can control some things, and he can’t control others. Number one on the what he can’t control list?
I’m a big fan of Nicole Williams’ books. I fell in love with Jesse and Rowen nearly immediately in Lost and Found. I followed them obsessively through Near and Far and hated to give them up at the end. After reading the first two books, if anyone would have told me that I would wind up falling head-over-heels in book love for Garth Black, I would have told them they were out of their mind. It’s not that I didn’t *hope* that there was more to Garth than met the eye, but I just wasn’t sure. There were hints in his behavior at the end of the first book and during the second that led me to believe there might be more to him, but not every character has redeeming qualities, after all, despite how badly you might want them to. I was prepared to deal with that if it was the case.
“That’s exactly the kind of guy you leave behind.”
People have been leaving Garth Black behind his entire life. He’s come to expect it. He doesn’t do relationships. He has very few actual friends. Jesse, Rowen and Josie are pretty much it. I won’t say he treats them badly, for the most part. His past has definitely shaped his present. What he needs to realize is that it doesn’t have to shape his future.
“Are you decent?” That was a question I didn’t need to answer. “Never mind. Most obvious question ever. How about… are you clothed?”
On the surface, Garth is stubborn. He’s an asshole. He does things to piss people off, whether deliberately or not. He likes to drink, sleep with women and fight. He’s a cowboy from the wrong side of the tracks. He lives in a horrible trailer with his alcoholic and abusive father. At first glance, Garth isn’t a very nice guy. He’s hot as hell, there’s no denying that, but that’s about all he has going for him. He uses his looks to his advantage. He doesn’t sugar-coat things. He tells it like it is. Or it seems like he does, anyhow.
“Don’t tell me who to love, Garth Black. And don’t you dare tell me it’s a waste to give it to you.”
In addition to hiding a great, warm heart, Garth’s also keeping secrets. The biggest one being that he’s in love with one of his best friends, Josie. He and Josie hooked up one night when she was dating his best friend, Jesse, effectively ruining friendships and relationships both. It was assumed it was Garth being Garth, but in reality, it was so much more than that. It wasn’t a cheap and meaningless one-night stand for him. He loves her, but he knows believes he doesn’t deserve her. That he could never deserve someone like her.
“Without realizing exactly what I needed, I suddenly had it. A measure of comfort exactly when I needed it. A silent need picked up on and responded to. It was foreign in the best kind of way. Josie’s hand heated mine, its warmth traveling up my arm and spreading around until no sign of a chill was left to be found. No sign of the winter I’d lived in my entire life was still around.”
“Because you deserve better than my best. You deserve the man I can and should be. Not the one everyone else knows.”
Feelings come out pretty early on in the book after Garth experiences a huge loss that shakes him to the core. He begins to question everything he’s known and everything he thought he didn’t want or couldn’t have. More than a love story, this book is about Garth’s journey of self-discovery. He finds that there can be more to him – that he is deserving of friendship and love. He and Josie’s journey is pretty uneventful, considering how tumultuous Jesse and Rowen’s was. Sure, there were some dramatic and angsty moments. Not everyone in town was happy with their relationship and they both had to deal with that in some very different ways. But, I always believed they would come back to each other in the end.
“I’ve known Josie Gibson since before I figured out girls like here were disastrous to guys like me.”
It would have been easy to dislike Josie early on in this series because of her past with Jesse. But, she really never seemed like a huge threat to his and Rowen’s relationship. I connected with her nearly immediately in the books. She’s a strong, stubborn, sassy, yet somehow sweet, country girl. She became a great friend to Rowen, giving her the grounding and clarity she needed so badly at times. She does the same for Garth in this book. She’s an incredible woman. They’re all lucky to have her in their lives – and she’s just as lucky to have them.
“It doesn’t have to be Garth Black against the whole world, you know. Give your friends a little more credit.”
“That was one misfit telling another misfit that she’s got your back should you need it. That was one misfit telling another that you don’t have to go through whatever you’re going through alone. That was me telling you that you’ve got friends. So lean on them, god dammit. Stop acting like every battle you face is a one-man-war.”
I loved that Jesse and Rowen were back in this book. I really wasn’t ready to give them up. If you’ve read the first two books in this series, you know that Rowen didn’t have an easy time opening up to the possibility of love with someone as, for lack of a better term, good, as Jesse. She was able to take her experiences and help Garth in this book.
“These two are the couple to beat. The love they have for each other is the kind to aspire to. I don’t know about you, but I sure wouldn’t mind having someone beside me who could give these two a run for their money.”
I just loved everything about this book, it was easily my favorite in the series. Nicole Williams writes amazing characters. They are so complex, have so much depth, but they are somehow totally relatable. This book took me through the full gamut of emotions. I laughed, I cried, I smiled. I wanted to yell and shake Garth. I won’t say his journey was beautiful because there was too much pain for it to be that, but it was special. There are so many swoon-worthy moments in this book. I never thought I would get that from Garth Black. Who knew there was an insecure romantic underneath that tough cowboy exterior?
“She taught me how to love. She taught me who I wanted to love. Even though I failed at it, stumbled over my own two feet so many times I was face-planting more than I was walking, she showed me the perseverance of love.”