Renegade by Lisa Bingham
published by Berkley in January 2016
The rugged and wild Taggart brothers know how to tame a restless beast, but a restless heart is a different matter...Genre: Contemporary romance
When tragedy struck, Jace Taggart stepped in to run the family business and care for his brothers, sacrificing his own happiness to ensure their well-being. But after the beautiful Bronte Cupacek moves to town, Jace realizes he can’t ignore the hunger inside him much longer.
However, the last thing Bronte needs is another man in her life. After the end of a painful marriage, she just wants to focus on her daughters. They need her now more than ever. Yet no matter how hard Bronte tries to stand on her own two feet, it’s hard to resist the handsome cowboy who keeps coming to her aid.
Soon secrets from the past threaten everything dear to them. Only through embracing their undeniable connection can Jace and Bronte build a future together that no one can tear apart...
Series: Taggart Brothers, Book #2
The Story: I find the blurb to be a bit over-dramatic, but it does have the gist of the story.
Bronte Cupacek drove hundred of miles, leaving Boston and her husband, to Bliss, Utah, in the hope to find refuge at her grandmother's for her two daughters and herself... only to learn from the handsome neighbor that her grandmother had a nasty fall and is in the ICU.
Jace Taggart has a lot on his plate already without adding a distressed, pretty neighbor. Six years ago, Jace lost his parents and younger sister in a car accident. His youngest brother, Barry, survived but will always remain 10 years old. At the time, Jace's older brother, Elam, was in a bad head place and his other brother, Bodey, was too young. Therefore, Jace had to step in to take over the ranch and take care of Barry. Except that Jace's heart has never been into the ranch... and years later, Jace is feeling unsettled, itching to travel and reconnect with his art.
Each has their own worries, neither is looking for romance - but the attraction is undeniable.
My Opinion: Desperado, Ms Bingham's debut novel, is one of the few books I picked up at RWA and have actually read. I ended up really liking Ms Bingham's writing and was looking forward to Renegade because Jace was such a great character :)
I wish I could say Renegade didn't disappoint, but that would be lying. However, my disappointment doesn't stem from the usual reasons. I still enjoyed Ms Bingham's writing a lot, liked the Taggart brothers' dynamics and the romance was okay. Also, Jace was indeed a great hero - loyal, caring and understanding. I simply loved his dedication to Barry and the interactions between the two brothers were my favorite part of the book. Barry's innocence and happiness were contagious and they were possible because he had a great older brother taking care of him. So why am I unhappy? Because I can't help but think that Ms Bingham had the perfect hero material in Jace and would have written a wowzer... if only she had focused the story on him ^_^; It's true that in most romance novels, readers want some balance - they want to know about both H/H, enjoy having both POVs. However, there are instances where one steals the spotlight and it should have been the case with Jace in Renegade. I really wish Ms Bingham had focused the book on Jace, fleshed out his character and developed his journey more. For example, it's only 1/3 in that we find out that Jace is an artist, that back in days - prior to the accident - he actually disappeared and traveled throughout Europe, studying/admiring arts. He chafes under all the ranch duties and itches to take a vacation... All the information about Jace was slow-coming and never fleshed out enough for me. Also, at the end, while he does start making art again, he's put aside his itch because of his responsibility to Barry and his relationship with Bronte... To me, it felt like he resigned himself instead of finding his HEA ending.
I feel the reason why Ms Bingham couldn't focus on Jace was because she introduced a heroine with a lot of baggage. Bronte wasn't a bad character, but honestly, I didn't care about her and her story because I wanted more of Jace. I just felt her baggage overshadowed Jace too much. Bronte's ex-husband had a drug problem. She tried being a good wife and stayed with him till the situation almost endangered her daughters. Now, in Bliss, she's trying to focus on being a good mother - especially to her youngest who seemed very troubled. The only fault I find in Bronte is that she tried to shield her daughters too much - to the point where they were not aware of the divorce! That's taking it a bit too far in my opinion. Yes, you want to protect your children, but you should also be honest with them. I think if she had spoken up about the divorce, a lot of issues could have been avoided. Anyway, I just wished the heroine for Jace would have less baggage, so they could really have a passionate romance instead of tip-toeing around each other for the sake of others. Also, it would have been a nice change to have a heroine that was "normal." Sometimes, less is better! I know it's hard to develop a character that doesn't have issues, but authors should try it sometimes instead of over-burdening their characters...
I have a few other minor issues with Renegade: where was Bronte's family when she needed them (she mentions a sister, are the parents alive?), the timeline of Jace's disappearance to Europe and the title explanation was forced... but overall, I think it's mainly me being too picky and over-thinking it ^_^;
My Grade: C. My review seems quite negative, but that's mainly because I envisioned a different story for Jace. I do maintain that Renegade would have been a better book had the focus been more on Jace... but as it is , it was still enjoyable.