Series: Reckless Arizona (Book 2)
Twenty-five years ago, the Beckett family was irrevocably divided by lies told and secrets kept. But Ryder Beckett comes back to The Easy Money to reconcile with his past and help run the rodeo arena until he can find a new job. He's quick to fall into old ways -- taking care of the horses, trying a few of his old rodeo tricks…and falling for Tatum Mayweather.
Ryder's childhood friend has become a beautiful woman. But how can he get involved with a single mother of three when he's only at the ranch temporarily? Tatum deserves a stay-in-one-place kind of guy, and that has never been Ryder. Is the pull of family enough to keep him in Reckless, Arizona? Is this where Ryder truly belongs?
Good story with a lot going on. Ryder has come back to the family ranch to work until he can find a new job. It's not a very comfortable spot to be in right now, as the family is dealing with the revelations of some secrets and lies, but Ryder doesn't expect to be there for long. One of the people he's working with is Tatum, best friend of one of his sisters. He's really attracted to her, but getting involved carries risks he's not sure he wants to take.
I liked both Ryder and Tatum. They had more in common than either realized. Ryder had had a choice of resigning from his job or getting fired, the result of getting personally involved with a coworker. Coming home to work for the family feels like taking charity which really bothers him. He feels that he isn't really needed, and that most of what he is doing could easily be handled by Tatum. He's feeling somewhat pressured by his parents, and reacts by trying to train Tatum to do the things he's doing. Getting in the way of that is the attraction he feels for her. As he gets to know her better, he's impressed by how hard she works and everything she does for her children, and finds his attraction deepening to something more. His feelings for her create a conflict in him as he tries to figure out how to be with her and still stick to his plans to leave Reckless.
Tatum has had a rough couple of years. After divorcing her husband it was tough to make ends meet. Then her job as a teacher at the elementary school was eliminated. With no income she had no way to support her children, and for a time she had to let her ex-mother-in-law care for them. Her friend Cassidy's family gave her a job as the office manager at the ranch, but Tatum feels she only got it because they felt sorry for her. She works hard at it, but she really wants to go back to teaching. Ryder's arrival throws her into a bit of turmoil. She had crushed on him as a kid, but she's all grown up now with other responsibilities. She can't afford the distraction of getting involved with him, but he seems determined to pursue it. She knows that he isn't planning to stay, and her friend warns her that he's not the committing type, but when he's with her and her kids she sees a different side to him. It's really easy for her to fall for him.
I liked the relationship that developed between them. Ryder shows Tatum that she's capable of more than she thinks by involving her in more of the things he's working on. I liked watching him get close to her kids and start feeling like they could be a family. Tatum also feels like being together is right. Both are able to open up about the things from their past that have led to where they are now. But when an error made by her is compounded by his actions, suddenly they are each facing the demons of past mistakes. It takes a kick in the butt conversation with his dad for Ryder to face up to his mistakes and realize just what it is he wants. Tatum also takes a hard look at her life choices and makes some decisions. The big question was whether they could make their new paths work together. I liked their decisions and how right they were for each of them.
The family dynamics were very interesting. Even though this was the second book in the series, there was enough back story given to understand the issues among the Beckett family. Ryder has some issues with them that are going to take some work to get over. I liked the way that, the longer he was home, the more he was able to look at the past more clearly. Being older now, he also has a different perspective on some of the past events. I liked seeing him make some tentative steps toward reconciling with his mother. There is still some antagonism with his sister Cassidy, but he also seems to be trying harder with her.