Review: Jackson (Eternity Springs: The McBrides of Texas Trilogy #1) by Emily March

41150459Sometimes it takes a new beginning
Caroline Carruthers thinks she buried her dreams along with the love of her life…until a stranger named Celeste dares her to chase a dream all on her own. Moving to Redemption, Texas, is chapter one in Caroline’s new life story. Opening a bookstore is the next. Finding love is the last thing on her mind as she settles into this new place called home. But when she meets a handsome, soulful man who’s also starting over, all bets are off.

To reach a happily-ever-after
Jackson McBride came to Redemption looking only to find himself, not someone to love. Ever since his marriage ended, he’s been bitter. Sure, he used to believe in love—he even has the old song lyrics to prove it—but the Jackson of today is all business. That is, until a beautiful young widow who’s moved to town inspires a change of heart. Could it be that the myth of Redemption’s healing magic is true…and Jackson and Caroline can find a second chance at a happy ending after all?

Review. Text on the string. Conceptual 3d image

Source: NetGalley and St. Martin’s Paperbacks          Rating: 4½/5 stars

Three sexy men, a rundown and ready to be resuscitated ranch, a small idyllic town, and one sweet romance?  YES, PLEASE!

Jackson McBride is something of a broken man.  His ex-wife is vindictive and has deep pockets as well as very good lawyers which has cost Jackson his career as a songwriter, his home, and time with his young daughter.  To avoid making matters worse than they already are, Jackson has, at the request of his cousin, made his way to Redemption, Texas where he discovers an inheritance he and his cousins never imagined.

Jackson is now the part owner of a rundown former brothel, a dance hall, a saloon, and the surrounding area.  With few ties to his former home, Jackson makes the decision to stay in Redemption and oversee the overhaul of the site.  With his cousins on board and backing the decisions, Jackson intends to return the dance hall to its former glory and open it to up and coming musicians, singers, and bands, the brothel will become a bed and breakfast, and the saloon will be a refashioned bar and restaurant.  The surrounding area, given its gorgeous natural landscape will make a perfect retreat for the outdoor loving visitor.  While the work certainly takes Jackson’s mind off his personal troubles, it doesn’t erase the troubles or the loneliness he feels.

When Jackson initially meets Caroline Carruthers, she is a married woman with a very sick husband and a broken heart.  When next Jackson encounters Caroline, she is a widow, opening a bookstore in Redemption, with a still broken yet hopeful heart.  Caroline’s move to Redemption is meant to be a fresh start, a way to begin anew following the loss of her beloved husband.  With a highly anticipated bookstore in the works a few good friends in the making, Caroline is satisfied with her life and hoping to eventually move toward happiness.  Jackson McBride would certainly be a move in the direction of happiness.

Jackson and Caroline are meant to be together, but understandably, each has serious reservations.  Caroline is still grieving the loss of her husband and Jackson is still tied to his spiteful ex through his adored daughter.  With both being clear and honest with the other, Jackson and Caroline decide to embark on a friends with benefits journey that will surely run its course, be done and over with sooner rather than later.  And then, Fate laughed 😊   Outside of the benefits package part of their arrangement, Jackson and Caroline genuinely like one another.  Spending time together, talking, helping one another, and becoming a part of one another’s life is as natural as breathing to both.  All it takes for Jackson and Caroline to accept and embrace what it so obvious to everyone around them is one massive tragedy that nearly destroys all the hope and happiness they were building.

The Bottom Line: I knew I would like this book from the first page!  I simply adore small town, sweet romance reads, and Jackson fits the bill on every level.  Jackson is broken and angry, but between Caroline, Redemption, and the revitalization of his inheritance, Jackson finds peace, love, acceptance, and road back to true happiness.  Caroline, like Jackson, is broken and Redemption is just the place for her to heal and move beyond her immense grief.  What I appreciated most about this read is the very real sense of family and community that is built around Caroline and Jackson.  Both have been beaten and battered by life, but the people of Redemption gladly and warmly welcome them into their community and help lift them up as they lift one another up.  What’s more, with the addition of Jackson and Caroline to town comes a blossoming for the town itself and a promise of more to come.  Though there are some naughty bits in this read, they are low heat and focused more on the emotion of the event(s) rather than the physical aspects.  I mention this only to reinforce the focus of this book is about the feels, overcoming life’s obstacles, learning to live and love again, and being open to all the possibilities life has to offer, even in a small town!

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