Desert Isle Keeper
Wild Horse Springs
There hasn’t been a single Jodi Thomas book that I’ve picked up and been disappointed with. Her quiet storytelling really speaks to me. While this book has some gripping action, overall, it’s a gentle tale of three intertwining strands.
Dan Brigman is the sheriff of Crossroads, Texas, a man proud of his job and with the integrity to have the job be the man. He lives a quiet life now that his daughter Lauren has grown up and moved to Dallas. He works and he fishes and in between he’s resigned to his single state. He’s alone but not always lonely.
One night, while driving by the sight of a previous ambush and a ton of bloodletting, Dan spots a gorgeous blue leather boot in the middle of the road. He gets out of his car with his heart in his mouth and his hand on his service revolver. Turns out the boot was just a boot with no body attached to it or an ambush waiting by the wayside.
He traces the boot back to Brandi Malone, a singer who’s been filling the Nowhere Club to the rafters. In a Cinderella moment, some unknown impulse has him kneeling down to put the boot on Brandi, and he’s smitten so fast he doesn’t know what hit him. Brandi, in turn, is dazzled by his honest eyes.
Dan and Brandi kiss at their first meeting and connect in mind and heart and with their eyes and hands in a way that is so sweet and so touching. Dan realizes that there had always been something missing in his life – beauty and vibrancy – whereas Brandi realizes that she’s been missing steadfastness and dependability in hers. Having found each other, neither is willing to let a minute go by without at least thinking of the other. Life intervenes to keep them apart but their souls are connected in ways that are too complex for them to question, only to accept.
In the meantime, Dan’s daughter Lauren returns home from Dallas, a disillusioned law student with a degree but no bar exam. She thinks she wants to be a writer but has nothing to show for it. Her relationships haven’t gone anywhere either, and she considers herself a failure. She hopes coming home will help her recover.
Because waiting at home is her high school friend, Tim, and the boy they’re both mentoring, 18-year-old Thatcher. Tim’s been in love with Lauren forever, however, she loves him only as a friend, not as a lover. And therein lies the push and pull of their friendship.
Thatcher lands himself into a passel o’ trouble by punching a convenience store owner who accuses him of stealing and tries to contain him. An assault charge lands him in jail, while the town is outraged that Thatcher’s been accused. He confesses that he was returning the canned goods, not stealing them, but the store owner, Luther, refuses to drop the assault charge. Thatcher is mum as to how he came by the canned goods.
So Lauren calls their other close high school friend, Lucas, who’s a fancy lawyer to come rescue Thatcher. There had been unresolved attraction between Lauren and Lucas, which had turned sour. Lucas’s return to Crossroads restarts the complexity of their attraction and friendship.
Lauren’s story thread is a coming of age tale even though she’s in her mid-twenties. She’s discovering what she’s capable of, what she wants to do, and who she wants to be with. It’s a story arc that remains unresolved at the end of the book.
While this has been going on, Cody Winslow rides hell for leather in a snowstorm on his horse, Midnight, skids on a patch of black ice, and is thrown into Ransom Canyon. How he manages to survive is a mixture of the miracle of modern medicine, sheer dogged luck, and a guardian angel in the form of park ranger Tess Adams. She rescues him from the canyon and has him airlifted to a hospital. Theirs is another relationship that starts out fast and develops fast, while still retaining deep tenderness, understanding, and connection.
This book is the first time an author has made me believe that insta-lust is possible and can develop into a forever kind of love quickly but deeply and meaningfully. Jodi Thomas, with her careful, gently nuanced characterization has crafted people who are emotionally mature, quietly formidable, memorable, and relatable.
If you’ve never read Jodi Thomas, Wild Horse Springs would be a good choice for a first book by her. If you’re a fan of the Ransom Canyon series, this is a strong addition to it.