the-real-thingTitle:  The Real Thing
Author:  Tina Ann Forkner
Genre:  Contemporary Romance
Published:  April 7, 2016
My Rating:  4.5 stars
Source:  NetGalley
Cover Description:

Sometimes you have to don a pair of cowgirl boots…

Manda Marshall is ready to leave heartache behind when she marries Keith Black, a champion saddle bronc cowboy and man of her dreams. But going from the serenity of small town Tennessee to the exhilaration of the rodeo, nothing can prepare her for being a cowboy’s wife. Becoming the new stepmom to Keith’s little boy and teenaged daughter has Manda relying on her deep sense of longing for a family and budding love for her stepchildren to strengthen their bond.

Manda’s desire of being a rodeo cowboy’s wife begins to take second place as she works to reinvent a life for herself and new family, but when mysterious phone calls from Keith’s missing ex-wife dredge up the past, Manda finds her marriage and family in an unusual and heart wrenching dilemma. The life she had worked so hard to build is suddenly redefined and her commitment to her husband and family is tested.

What Manda discovers has the power to heal or break her family in this emotional tale of cowboys, rodeo queens, and what it really means to ride beside a cowboy and his family, no matter the risk.

Read on for my thoughts on The Real Thing.

At first it’s easy to believe that The Real Thing is going to be another lighthearted cowboy-rodeo romance.  And to be fair, in some ways it is that – and so much more.  This story is indeed the real thing – a tale of second chances, second marriages, step-children and a famous rodeo cowboy who isn’t in the picture as much as Manda or we might want.  It’s a slice of life experience on how a second wife creates her own stamp on an already established family – one where the teenage daughter is convinced that her mother will one day return for her.

There will be teenage angst, love tested, and a family rearranged in order to face what life has tossed their way.  When Keith’s first wife, Violet, disappeared without warning or a trace except to send divorce papers – we, the readers are left with a certain impression of the missing Violet.   Be careful what you think because reality is often so very far from our imaginings.

This is not a lighthearted romance.  It is the story of a family that is shifting to accept and deal with momentous facts and changes… and struggling to remain intact with the love strong.  You will get caught up emotionally and perhaps, wonder what you would do if life presented this challenge to you.

I would highly recommend this heart-wrenching and thought providing story to absolutely any reader.  It’s more than romance, it is the real thing for so many families – and it will change how you look at those around you.

*I received an e-ARC of The Real Thing from the publisher, Tule Publishing and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  That does not change what I think of this novel.*

(This review first appeared on my multi-genre blog, Keeper Bookshelf.  I wanted all of my romance reviews in one genre specific blog and The Real Thing fits perfectly here at Romance Is Ageless.)

Available for the Kindle