Cleo and Jax come from the same small town, but Jax has the reputation of being a trouble maker. Cleo was Jax's best friend's little sister and the entire town knew she had a massive crush on Jax. Jax left town and Cleo never heard from or saw him again. Now, Cleo is working in Vegas and is supposed to keep an important guest very happy while providing him with as much privacy as possible. Sounds fairly routine for Vegas... but the client turns out to be Jax and Cleo knows right away that something is wrong.
This contemporary romance features two people that have known each other for years, but never really KNEW each other. Cleo's father died and her mother put the blame on Cleo, leaving her estranged from her family. This doesn't stop Cleo from changing jobs to earn more money so she can help keep the family ranch up and running.
Jax has done quite well for himself over the years, but a crime involving some of his business affairs has him in hot water. Laying low in Vegas seemed like a good idea at the time. Cleo and a big bad guy they nicknamed "Ape Man" make the Vegas trip an epic fail... but there could be a light at the end of the tunnel if only people will stop trying to run Cleo's life for her.
Cleo never wanted to stay on the ranch or marry a local boy. She has a different plan for her life, but her mom just doesn’t understand that. Her mom has tried to control everything and even has tried to manipulate her so she will come back home. With Jax's help, Cleo comes to believe that despite the hateful words her mother spoke, she is not to blame for her father's death. Jax also leans on Cleo to try and heal her broken family relationships. That's often easier said than done. Meanwhile, Jax has to deal with the man that wants to keep him from testifying and with the terrifying possibility that an illness could be back to claim all his energy. To put the cherry on the cake, the adult Cleo is a temptation Jax is having a hard time resisting.
I liked all the themes in this book. A relatively young man with a bright future is diagnosed with a serious illness. He never knows if he will be free and clear or if the illness will come back. His past also haunts him and so does Cleo. Jax was much closer to Cleo's family than he ever was to his own. This story of how Jax managed to escape the fate he was destined for with the help of a very nice man was so sweet. How often do people really take notice of a troubled youth and think that if this kid just had a chance he could make something of himself? So, Cleo wasn't the only one that could see past Jax's reputation.
Cleo's story is one that probably happens all too often. Grief can make people do and say things they didn't really mean. While Cleo scrounges up the courage to contact her mother things still aren't exactly perfect, but life never is. Parents often make mistakes with their children or make decisions based on their own selfish wants or needs and this is what has happened with Cleo.
Just when things begin to look up for Cleo and Jax, Jax takes a page out of her mother's book and begins making life choices on Cleo's behalf. Will Cleo stand up for herself and fight for the man she loves?
The underlying theme that I think the author would want you to grasp is that you have to follow your heart and that life is unpredictable for all of us, so live it to the fullest, and focus on what you have today . The Return of the Rebel gets 4 stars.
The guy from the wrong side of the tracks…
Being promoted should be a dream come true, only it means working closely with Cleo's childhood crush, Jax Monroe. Jax may no longer be the rebel she remembers, but he still gets her heart racing like no other.
Jax cares too much about Cleo to let her get too close—but keeping his distance is proving impossible! As Jax reveals the extent of what he's been through, will Cleo show him that some things are too precious to put off until tomorrow?