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I Belong

Review: Branded by Laura Wright

BrandedTitle: Branded

Author: Laura Wright

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Series: The Cavanaugh Brothers (Book 1)

Publication Date: June 3, 2014

Format: Paperback, 384 Pages

ISBN-10: 0451464877 (Signet/Penguin)

ISBN-13: 978-0451464873 (Signet/Penguin)

Reviewed by: Steph


In the small town of River Black, Texas, sits the Triple C—a working cattle ranch that sustains the town. But it also holds painful memories and shocking secrets for the Cavanaugh brothers…

When the Cavanaugh brothers return home for their father’s funeral, they discover unexpected evidence of the old man’s surprising double life—a son named Blue, who wants the Triple C Ranch as much as they do. The eldest son, Deacon, a wealthy businessman who couldn’t wait to leave the ranch and move on with his life, is looking to use his powerful connections to stop Blue at any cost. He never expected the ranch’s forewoman, Mackenzie Byrd, to get in his way.

Mac knows Deacon means to destroy the ranch and therefore destroy her livelihood. But as the two battle for control, their attraction builds. Now Deacon is faced with the choice of a lifetime: Take down the Triple C to feed his need for revenge, or embrace the love of the one person who has broken down every barrier to his heart.

Quick & Dirty: Deacon Cavanaugh will do anything to destroy the Triple C Ranch. Mackenzie Byrd will do anything to stop him. Add in a sizzling attraction to each other, and that makes matters extremely complicated.

Opening Sentence: Today it took five dollars to get the cowboys to look the other way when Mac and I saddled up one of Daddy’s prize cow horses.

Excerpt: No

The Review:

This book was just what I needed, as I’ve been going through a bit of a reading slump lately. I do find it funny that a book I normally wouldn’t have picked up (I’m not always a  huge contemporary romance fan) is the one that pulls me out of my slump. I’m incredibly grateful for it though!

Growing up, the Cavanaugh brothers had a great life on their father’s ranch. That all changed when their 13-year-old sister went missing and was later found murdered. Life on the ranch changed, and it was no longer a place any of them felt safe or loved. All three brothers left as soon as they were able and never looked back. Since then, Deacon Cavanaugh has made himself into a very successful businessman. What he wants more than anything is to tear down the Triple C Ranch and move on with his life. He’s made numerous offers to buy the Triple C, all of which have been refused. When his father dies, Deacon sees his chance. What he doesn’t foresee is the fight he will have on his hands with the ranch’s foreman, Mac. Mac was his sister’s best friend and cannot understand the hatred Deacon holds for his father and his ranch. She will everything in her power to stop Deacon’s plan from going forward. Who will win in this battle of wills? Will Deacon and Mac’s burgeoning romance be able to withstand the fallout?

The book is told mainly from Deacon and Mac’s perspectives, although we do get a couple scenes with the other Cavanaugh brothers as well as Deacon’s assistant. Spending so much time in the heads of our hero and heroine really helped me forge a connection to the two characters, although I felt more connected to Mac. In the first part of the book, Deacon comes off as a bit of a jerk, making it very hard to like him at first. Thankfully, this changes once the romance really takes off. Mac, on the other hand, is likable from the start. She’s incredibly strong and doesn’t need a man to make her life complete. At the same time, she’s not afraid to open up and make herself vulnerable. She’s just very easy to identify with.

While I will say the romance did seem to move a little quickly, it honestly didn’t bother me too much. I think this is due to the fact that the chemistry between Deacon and Mac is just perfect. You could practically see the sparks and steam come off the pages. That chemistry greatly made up for any rushing of the romance that occurred.

This was an incredibly enjoyable, quick read. I think fans of contemporary romance will be greatly pleased and those that aren’t normally into this type of book will be pleasantly surprised. I know I was!

Notable Scene:

“Everett Cavanaugh was good to this town,” he said in a deep, controlled voice. “No question about it. His success shows in every building, every business, and every home. But his failures were just as impactful. And like his successes, they shouldn’t go unobserved.”

Beside Mac, Elena gave a tiny gasp. The rest of the room, however, fell silent and still. Clearly captivated by Deacon Cavanaugh’s audacity. Even the members of the congregation with fans held them aloft and immobile.

“A town can be built on the destruction of others,” he said, his voice near to ice now. “But that kind of foundation ain’t strong. It won’t last. It can’t. I won’t allow it.”

Without warning, his eyes dropped to the front row, hitting Mac with a dark, quizzical look that turned her insides lava. Will you be the one who gets in my way now? he seemed to be asking.

Damn right, she wanted to shout back at him. But she had no voice. No goddamn voice. Staring up at him, she felt as if she were completely alone–on the bench and inside the church. She felt like a prisoner to his stare and that if he wanted to take something from her, not only would she let him, but she might just be inclined to fall to her knees when she handed it over.

After a few long seconds, he pulled his gaze from hers and settled it back on the crowd again. As Mac regained her mind and chastised herself for shrinking under the weight of that intense look, Deacon continued with his backward eulogizing, undaunted.

“Today you buy Everett Cavanaugh,” he said tersely. “Tomorrow I bury everything he’s ever worked for.”

The Cavanaugh Brothers:

1. Branded

2. Broken (October 7, 2014)

3. Brash (March 3, 2015)


FTC Advisory: Signet/Penguin provided me with a copy of Branded. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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