by Stasia Black
“Reece” is the 4th book in the ‘Stud Ranch’ series by Stasia Black. I have not read any of the other books in this series and I was still able to completely enjoy this one.
I’m not revealing anything not already shared by the description when I state that Penelope is a woman on the run and in hiding from an abusive man. I thought the author did an excellent job conveying the insidious nature of abuse, and the destruction it has on the psyche of the victim. After a harrowing series of events, Penelope finds herself working at a ranch where she meets Reece under strange but exciting circumstances. Over a couple of months they gradually develop a co-workers with sexual benefits relationship that they have to keep secret. Although Penelope has huge secrets to hide already, it turns out that Reece has some of his own. The strong connection that develops between them gives them both a safe space to reveal some of their pain and work towards healing just a little bit at least. The intensity in the story keeps simmering and building until it really explodes. It definitely kept me involved and turning the pages anxiously.
I thought this story was well-written. The lead characters were engaging, the villains were suitably horrifying, and the secondary characters were varied and interesting. It was almost a five-star read for me, but I didn’t feel I connected enough to Reece. When we learned some of his back story it explains certain things, but I wish I could have seen the interactions with Penelope from his perspective more. I was also confused by how a key secondary character received a huge payment for the ranch land, yet couldn’t afford more than a tiny apartment when a catastrophe forced her to move. Plus, in my opinion, the circumstances around that move by her and Penelope could have benefited from another chapter instead of jumping straight to it. I apologize for being vague, but I really don’t want to spoil anything for you!
Overall, I definitely recommend this book. There are scenes that are potential triggers having to do with domestic violence. I do think those parts were handled as circumspectly as possible while still conveying how heartbreaking and terrible they were. I’m definitely going to go back and look for the previous books in this series, and I’m hoping there will be another book about Reece’s brother, Jeremiah.