Stella Ridge is an actress. Fifteen years ago, she left Wayback, TX to find her fame and fortune. She found both and was even nominated for an Oscar. Several months ago on her way to the airport to come home after hearing that her father was ill, she was in a serious car accident with a semi truck. After months in the hospital and therapy, Stella has finally returned home. Her agent, Cal is livid Cal knows that with a little make-up the scares from the accident can be hidden. Stella doesn’t care. She’s ready to come home and settle down. She hopes to see Judd Black, a man of few words that Stella would love to know better.
Judd Black was 10 years old when he was found on the Ridge’s ranch. He was taken in and raised by a man who loved solitude. Judd didn’t say much to anyone. In fact, he seldom spoke at all. This drove most people nuts. Judd secretly loves Stella. He owns almost every movie she was in and keeps track of her career. He is friends with her younger brother but her older brother, Keefe, hates him. As he works for their father on the Ridge ranch and enjoys his job, Judd knows that his desire for Stella won’t go anywhere as he believes if the family has to choose between him and Keefe, Judd will lose.
What no one expects is for Stella to go after Judd. She likes him and wants to see where their relationship can go. Keefe doesn’t help when he tells Stella that Judd is a murder and has done time. Does she believe her brother or can she set aside her anger and disbelief long enough to hear Judd’s side of the story? And will it make any difference if he really did it?
This story is part of a series of books based in the small town of Wayback, TX. Readers will get caught up on characters from previous books and read about lead characters of future books, though you don’t know which ones will be getting their own books until they are out! The books do not have to be read in order as each story can stand alone but they are more enjoyable when read close to in order as you get to know the town and residents of Wayback. This seems to be book 12 in the series so lots of characters in previous books are mentioned or are in the story some how.
While I liked this story, I felt a few things seemed a bit strange or off. While I’ve heard of people not saying much, for Judd to basically say nothing for 20+ years seemed strange. What about his trail? How did he ask for work? This part of the story just felt off. Stella seemed overly worried about two small scars. While she did make her living in front of a camera and these minor imperfections may have seemed large to her, it made her seem shallow.
It felt to me as if Stella treated her family in a somewhat callused fashion. She hasn’t really spent any time with them in 15 years yet she doesn’t take the time to visit with them or find out what was going on in their lives. Her wants and needs seemed to come first with the thoughts that her family would understand. When Stella takes off riding for the day immediately after returning to the ranch, her brothers are alarmed when she doesn’t return after a few hours. They send workers looking for her as they don’t know where she headed or if they should be concerned. Instead of understanding their concern, Stella is mad that they bothered.
The story was enjoyable. There were several things going on to give it some depth which was nice in a book this short. Besides the issue of Judd being a murder are the deaths of Stella’s mother and half sister as well as the continued tension between Judd and Keefe. Though I didn’t like everything Stella did, she even had enough depth to find likable parts of her personality. The reason behind Judd not wanting to talk was reveled though not in depth. Still, he was a man of mystery and for not speaking, he sure could get his ideas across.
It was fun watching the people of Wayback interact with a hometown girl made good. It was interesting watching Stella come home. Overall, this was a fun, quick story that as long as you don’t look too deep, is a wonderful way to spend a few hours.
America's Sweetheart, Stella Ridge has been away from Wayback for fifteen years paving her way to the top of the acting business. When a car accident leaves her physically and emotionally scarred, the only place she wants to go is home to Texas and her family's ranch.
The changes that have taken place since her departure are enough to rock her world again. She uncovers a buried tragedy, struggles with the penetrating stares and questions from townsfolk, and comes up against an intriguing and unexpected spark with the silent cowboy and champion bull rider, Judd Black. Their wounded souls draw them together and Stella begins to realize that only in him can she find the solace she sought by leaving the bright lights of Hollywood.
(116 pages) Spicy