Frankie never let anyone close, until Duke refused to give up on him.
Frankie Freemont knows everyone at the Mossy Glenn thinks he’s a jerk for breaking things off with Jody. Letting people get close to him just isn’t something Frankie does. And older men? No way. Frankie doesn’t do that daddy thing so many younger guys seem to like.
Which is why he can’t understand his reaction to Duke Edmonson. Duke has always made him nervous for no reason Frankie can figure out.
Duke suffers a concussion, and Frankie suffers the consequences of a bad choice he makes. With his family wanting him only for one thing—money—and Duke slowly breaking down his defences, Frankie doesn’t know which way is up.
Duke is determined to prove to Frankie that he’s a good man—they both are. Duke’s worked hard to overcome his youthful past. He’s still ashamed of being a bully years ago, and does everything he can to make sure he never makes mistakes like that again. Changing is hard, but Duke’s spent his whole adult life doing so.
Because Broncs & Bullies is Duke and Frankie’s story and both played significant roles in Jody’s story, there is a bit of overlap in the timeline with this book and Riding & Regrets, but don’t fret because the author doesn’t recycle scenes. This book gives us a look at what Frankie was dealing with immediately after he broke up with Jody and we finally find out about his “dates” post-Jody. We also get more of a look into the events surrounding Duke’s concussion, or more accurately, what happened afterwards. But rest assured, Bradford managed to rip my heart out and ground into the dirt as per usual in this installment in the Mossy Glenn Ranch series. Thankfully, she put it all back together again by the final page too.
I really, really liked getting to know Frankie in this installment. Like most of the ranch hands, I thought what Frankie did by dumping Jody was a pretty crappy thing to do, but his continued presence in Jody’s life as a friend and him helping out with Prissy made it clear to me that there was more going on with Frankie than him being the shallow jerk the break-up made him appear to be. Once we got to see inside Frankie’s head and his reasons behind the break-up, I understood where he was coming from and I was relieved to know that he wasn’t as shallow as he seemed. That said, I was glad that Duke forced his way into Frankie’s life because the kid wasn’t as deserving of his self-recriminations as he thought. And Duke, being the man he was, set out to prove to Frankie that the kid was deserving of love. Once Frankie stopped using their age difference as an excuse, he and Duke were off-the-charts hot together. The inherent level of trust they found in one another – something neither had ever experienced before – allowed them to let go of their worries and just “be” in the moment … and there were some pretty freaking hot moments too. But even more important was how well they connected in their everyday interactions and it was Duke’s ability to be patient that enabled him to break down Frankie’s walls until Frankie realized AND admitted that Duke was exactly who he wanted to spend the rest of his life with.
Because of their developing relationship, Duke and Frankie both found the support they needed to deal with people from their past. Frankie not only had to deal with a creep from his recent past when one of the guys he was with after Jody tried to blackmail him to continue a sexually abusive relationship, but he also had to deal with his mother and stepfather. His bosses helped him deal with the creep, while it was Duke that accompanied him back home to visit his family so he could see his little sister. It’s not often that I want to beat the crap out of a fictional character, but what Frankie found when he went back home had my heartbreaking at the same time I was seething with anger. His mother is a despicable human being and it saddens me to know that there’s likely more than one woman in the world that has done something similar to their child. While Duke and I would not have blamed Frankie one bit for being unable to continue their trip, Frankie insisted that they continue on to see Duke’s brother and despite the brevity of their reunion, I cannot wait to see how that sibling relationship will be reestablished. Bradford has penned another excellent addition to the Mossy Glenn Ranch series and I cannot wait to squeeze Hay & Heartbreak into my schedule as soon as possible.