Every once in a while, you need to get away from it all.
I was a woman on the edge, shaken and shattered after a breakup that felt like it tore my entire world apart.
My best friend, sick of watching me drown in misery and melancholy, harassed me until I agreed to go with her on a week-long wilderness retreat.
She promised days spent bonding and getting in touch with our inner badasses. It was supposed to be all about the two of us roughing it and making do with the bare minimum. She assured me we were going to be pushed to our limits in ways that were unimaginable. Neither one of us could have ever guessed just how right she was.
Nowhere in the glossy brochure did it say anything about the fact I was going to have to battle the insufferable but deliciously rugged and sexy trail guide instead of the elements. The brochure also forgot to mention the part that warned when you left civilization behind, there was no place to pack your inhibitions and fears.
I was told that I would be facing a week where the only thing I should expect was the unexpected. However, no one mentioned that I was going to have to fight for my life…and my heart as soon as I ventured into the unknown.
I was a pro at hiding from my feelings but when it came time to face a real threat, one that could change everything, I learned I was more of a no surrender, no retreat kind of girl.
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When I first read that Jay Crownover had written a romantic suspense story set in the wilderness of Wyoming with a cowboy as her hero, I was excited to see how she utilized the western setting to create her kind of alpha male and the type of heroine it would take to knock him on his ass since dealing with complex terrains and tenacious animals is all in a day’s work for a cowboy. And even though the Warner brothers don’t have to deal with the types of problems found in Jay’s other stories, the situations that occur in Retreat prove that regardless of the location, Jay’s heroes know how to protect and claim who and what they consider theirs.
It’s amazing to me that Cy and Leo’s story only exists in a 7 day timeframe…that, that’s all it takes for all hell to break loose in the wilds of Sheridan, Wyoming, and for Cy and Leo to recognize that despite their not so stellar first impressions, the chemistry and desire that exists between them is not something they can deny, even though neither of them are looking for a relationship due to the heartbreak they’ve already felt at the hands of that thing called love.
Cyrus Warner is a complex man who is honest to a fault even though he’s a man of few words. He may not dress the part of a traditional cowboy but he sure knows how to fill out a pair of Levis. He’s definitely prickly when he meets Leo, and he tends to be hot/cold with just about everyone, but as the story progresses and Leo puts her snark in check, she as well as readers get to understand the type of man Cy is and the reasons behind his guardedness.
I have to admit that I would have loved to have some of the story told from Cy’s perspective, but I completely understand why it’s solely told from Leo’s point of view. She’s the one stepping outside of her comfort zone on this wilderness adventure with her best friend, and she’s the one who needs to learn to trust herself again and rebuild her confidence after it was destroyed by a man who turned out to be nothing like the man he seemed to be. It did take me awhile to warm up to Leo, but I think that was deliberate on Jay’s part. Jay wanted readers to understand just how off balance and damaged her ex left her in order to truly see the transformation Leo goes through when she learns to trust herself again and works to prove to herself and her best friend that she’s actually a fighter and worthy of being treated with respect and love.
Another aspect of Retreat that I loved was the secondary storylines that dealt with Cy’s brothers, Sutton and Lane. Jay Crownover does a great job of weaving their backgrounds and personalities into the main plot line, which makes readers eager to learn more about them, especially with what went down with Leo’s best friend, Emrys, and Sutton at the end of the story, leading into their story being told in book 2.
I adore the fact that Jay Crownover took a risk and wrote the kind of story her characters wanted her to tell because at the core of Retreat are the characteristics that readers have come to expect from her writing and even though there’s a different setting with a new kind of hero, the Warner brothers are still rough and rowdy and they definitely rule their piece of Sheridan, Wyoming.
4.5 Poison Apples
About Jay Crownover
Jay Crownover is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Marked Men, The Point, and the Saints of Denver series. Like her characters, she is a big fan of tattoos. She loves music and wishes she could be a rock star, but since she has no aptitude for singing or instrument playing, she’ll settle for writing stories with interesting characters that make the reader feel something. She lives in Colorado with her three dogs.