Branded - The Cavanaugh Brothers series, Book 1

Author: Laura Wright

Publisher: Signet

Release Date: June 3, 2014

Blue Ribbon Rating: 4.5

Format: Print

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Deacon Cavanaugh is the eldest son of The Triple C Ranch’s owner. He has made his success and money far from the place he had walked away from ten years prior. Deacon wants nothing of the place that holds such harsh and bittersweet memories but raze it to the ground. With his father’s passing, the driving need to eradicate the ranch came closer to fruition. He just never expected the last secret revealed or a feisty hellcat from the past to oppose him.

Mackenzie “Mac” Byrd is The Triple C Ranch’s foreman, a position she worked hard over the years to earn on her own merits. When the three brothers left the ranch without a backward glance, she was the only one to remain and help the patriarch manage and run the ranch. Mac had grown up alongside the brothers at the ranch and had been their late sister’s childhood best friend. Mac knows nothing of the turbulent times that lead the brothers to leave The Triple C, but she is determined to save the place she loves.

Mac’s sass and grit entertained me from the get go. Her feistiness and single-minded determination added an extra oomph to her character that made her come alive on the page. She did not dally around what she wanted but faced the challenges straight on even knowing the results hurt her. I adore that about her. Then there was the dedication to her dead friend’s memory and the secret crush she harbored for Deacon. What I liked most about Mac was, yes, she earned her position as foreman, a man dominated job, but she did not behave overly conceited about the status, just prideful.

I really did not care overly much about Deacon’s character at the start of the book. He came off too hypocritical, too hard-nose, in short a callous jerk for my tastes. Yet, my feelings towards him shifted to sympathy when the demons he faced became exposed. I came to understand the cold attitude. I did empathize with him and his brothers, mostly for the youngest, over the guilt they experienced over their sister’s death.

The interspersed diary entries gives the story a sweet yet sad poignancy, giving insight on the sister and girl that the brothers and Mac lost. I found the premise for the story unique, sort of reminding me of those suspense romances I like so well.

I am not fond of cowboy-themed contemporaries yet I love Laura Wright’s vampire books enough that I decided to give this new series of hers a chance. I never expected to get so absorbed, so entrenched into the book or invested into the characters. The author has a way about her writing and her voice that compels me to ignore the world around me, especially chores, and eager to read the next page until the pages sped quickly to the end. My only complaint, aside from the cowboy element, is the characters overuse of the endearment “darlin”.

BRANDED is a sexy yet heart-rending story of closure, about finally healing after a childhood loss. The extra suspense and mystery element added to the storyline’s flare. Laura Wright does an excellent job of prepping for the upcoming books on the three Cavanaugh brothers and I suspect Cole’s story will be a need-tissues-on-hand story.

By Romance Junkies Reviewer: Raonaid

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