I grew up with three brothers. They weren’t tied to me by blood, but our connection went beyond genetics or bearing the same last name. Our connection was forged the summer I turned thirteen, the summer my mom ended her life and left me in the custody of John Armstrong, a man I’d never met. Packing all I owned in a couple of boxes, I left the familiarity of the big city and headed west to Red Mountain Ranch, set in a lonely valley outside of Jackson Hole.
Nothing was as it seemed at Red Mountain—it didn’t take long for me to figure that out. John was kind to me but distant, as if he was afraid to let anyone get too close. His three teenage sons had their own devices for keeping love as far away as they could. The eldest distracted himself with cheap relationships that had a shelf-life of one night. The middle son threw himself into the rigor of running a ranch, and the third wielded cruelty and mind-games in his quest to keep people from getting close.
Time has gone by, and I’ve spent those years trying to forget the brother I’d fallen for—the biggest mistake of my life.
Finally, I’ve moved on. Finally, I’m back. But what I didn’t realize was that running away from the wrong brother meant I’d also run away from the right one. The one who’d been there for me all along, waiting in his brother’s shadow for the day I either would or could move on.
But a decade is a long time to wait. Has the brother I should have chosen all of those years ago moved on too? Am I about to discover that my biggest mistake wasn’t falling in love with the wrong brother, but failing to return the love of the right one sooner?
Does unrequited love have an expiration date?
I’m about to find out.
Author’s Note: This book is a “sweet” romance that isn’t overly sexy. Fans of Lost & Found will be interested in Three Brothers.
When Scout was thirteen her mother offed herself and left her only child in the care of John Armstrong, a man Scout had never met and who lived with his family on a ranch known as Red Mountain. Devastated by the loss of her mother and having never known her father, Scout made the best of the situation she found herself in and for five years she was a loved member of the Armstrong family. In the time Scout spent at Red Mountain, she had an opportunity to know each of the Armstrong boys and the course of her life was forever altered by knowing each of them. While most of her memories of Red Mountain are good some are quite painful and Scout never thought she would return to the place that brought her equal measures of pain and happiness. Eventually everyone returns home and now, as an adult Scout is returning home to say goodbye to the man who welcomed her into his home, his life and, his family.
Returning to Red Mountain is a monumental event for Scout and though she wants to be there for John’s final days she knows she will encounter each of the brothers. Each of the brothers, though connected by blood are completely different from one another and each has impacted Scout’s life in tremendous ways.
Chance: by far the most responsible of the Armstrong boys and the one who now runs Red Mountain Ranch. From sun up to sun down Chance tends to the ranch, its livestock and employees leaving little to no time for a personal life of any kind. From the moment he met Scout, Chance loved her and through the years he has never revealed his feelings but maintained a solid friendship with her.
Chase: the Armstrong brother that all the girls liked and Chase certainly loved the ladies. Chase Armstrong liked nothing more than to play the field right up to the moment he met his wife. Unbelievably, the playboy was able to be tamed and life for Chase was blissful until his beloved wife was killed in a freak accident. Since her death, Chase has spent his time at Red Mountain searching for a way out of the darkness.
Conn: if ever there was to be a black sheep. Conn is the darkest of black sheep and has been angry since birth. From an early age Conn leaned to lash out, hurt and manipulate and once Scout came to Red Mountain, he had the perfect target. As an adult Conn has not improved but become far, far worse. Both his brain and mouth have no filter, the bottles of alcohol he consumes each day lower his inhibitions to non-existent and, with Scout back on the ranch, he has ample opportunity to play.
The situation at Red Mountain Ranch is incredibly tense as each of the kids tries to tiptoe around all the issues that are obviously present. Seriously, the issues this group has to deal with are elephant-sized and without Scout coming back on the scene, the boys would have just continued to ignore them. Scout has no patience for Chase’s pity party and immediately sets to work on pulling him out of his depression. Conn is constantly drunk and when he is upright he is all kinds of mean. Avoiding Conn isn’t that hard to do since he drinks enough each day to knock him out. Oh, and there is that time that Scout hits him with an animal tranquilizer. 🙂 Chance is, as always hard at work on the ranch and when she isn’t at the house, Scout is out on the ranch with him. Scout’s time with Chance is something she cherishes and within just a few days she realizes she has wasted years of her life loving the wrong Armstrong brother. As their father’s time comes to an end, each of the Armstrong’s and Scout have to face their demons and see if there is any possible way they can make a life for themselves after John has gone.
The Bottom Line: I am not sure Nicole Williams knows how to write an easy story. This is my third Nicole Williams book and true to form she has given me characters that are steeped in drama, angst and, pain. I. Loved. It. Red Mountain Ranch is not all it is cracked up to be and for generations the Armstrong’s have lived with what they perceive to be a curse, a curse that has taken lives and, in many ways their happiness. Scout’s return to the ranch sets into motion a time of not only deep sorrow but one of hope for the future. Scout’s greatest fear in life was returning to Red Mountain Ranch and after facing her fears, she pulls the Armstrong boys into the light and forces them to face their fears as well. In the end, each comes out a little stronger and a little better.
Williams has once again given me a read that sucked me in and wouldn’t let me go until I finished the read. I vaguely remember thinking at the beginning of the read how weird it was for Scout to be handed over to a family she had never met but the story sucked me in and I forgot about the weirdness. Williams answers the question toward the end of the read and answers it in a big, big way. Seriously, I didn’t see that crap coming 🙂 Each of the characters is sound, solid, completely different from one another and, totally interesting. Add to the characters the legend of Red Mountain, how it has affected the Armstrong family and, the budding romance between Scout and Chance and you have a seriously good read on your hands. With each of her books that I complete, I find myself more and more addicted to Nicole Williams and her particular brand of dark, angsty romance.
I’m the New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of the CRASH series (HarperTeen, S&S UK), LOST & FOUND series, UP IN FLAMES (S&S UK), The EDEN TRILOGY, and a handful of others. I write stories about everyday kinds of people who find themselves in extraordinary kinds of situations. I tell love stories with happy endings because I believe in making the world a better place, and that’s one tiny way I can make it so. I’m one of those people who still believe in true love and soul mates, and would rather keep my head in the clouds any day over having my feet firmly on the ground.