The Cowboy and the Outcast by Jackie North (Farthingdale Valley book 3)

I love that Jackie keeps taking us back to Farthingdale with sweet characters who deserve to find love and she does it again with The Cowboy and the Outcast.

From the blurb:

Everywhere I go, I look for home. You are my home.

On the run for two years from an abusive family situation, Kell searches for a safe harbor. Instead of that happening, Kell gets arrested, but, unbelievably, amidst the horrors of prison, there shines a glimmer of hope.

Marston’s life is a mess. Everything he touches crumbles to dust. A second chance comes in the form of a job with the Farthingdale Valley New Start Program, except the two parolees assigned to him don’t even show up, so the job is a disaster from the get-go.

Temptation appears to Marston in the form of a particular ex-con: skinny, foul-mouthed, unable to keep up with the other prison-hardened parolees. Now he’s Marston’s responsibility.

Marston has failed at everything else - he knows he’ll fail at resisting temptation.

Can’t sleep. Can’t touch. Can’t have. Kell and Marston are lonely, until they find each other.

Can they make love last?

A gay m/m cowboy romance with hurt/comfort, opposites attract, emotional scars, fish out of water, and s'mores. A little sweet, a little steamy, with a guaranteed HEA.

Heather's Review:

Once again, Jackie gives us a sweet and satisfying story of redemption and real love. The Cowboy and the Outcast is a slow building, slow burning romance build on fresh air, friendship and trust. I absolutely love both Marston and Kell! Jackie weaves their backstories through the book, so as they begin to understand where each of them comes from, so do we... and it's a wonderful journey.

Marston is a man of few words, but his actions speak to Kell's soul and it's beautiful to watch these two men flourish together - wanting nothing more than to see the other smile and be genuinely happy, while still being part of the Farthingdale Valley project and interacting with the other project leads and parolees.

I am crossing my fingers that the next book is the XX and the Dealer, because I'm craving Bede's book and I know that Kell's wish is to see his friend paroled and in a positive place...

The Cowboy and the Outcast can be read standalone if the tropes are right, but you'll get more out of this book if you start at the beginning of Farthingdale with the Farthingdale Ranch series, or at least at the beginning of the Farthingdale Valley books.

Rating: 5 Stars

Angel's Review:

I haven't read too many books by Jackie North, when an opportunity came up to read this early I had to take it. I'm really glad I did. 

I don't think I've ever read a book about a parolee finding someone to love, so this book was unique in that aspect. I really enjoyed getting Kell's backstory. It was very in depth and told us what events led him to getting arrested. I wish we got to see/know more about Bede's character. He seemed like an important person in Kell's life at first, then wasn't mentioned too much after that first phone call. 

Marston had a rough upbringing. While Kell initially had a good childhood, Marston did not. He grew up in the foster system, and when he met Gabe, the man took him under his wing and together they both got their dream jobs. 

I thought the writing was really great. The pacing of Kell and Marston's relationship felt a little off-kilter to me. The buildup was a slow burn at first, then it seemed as if they couldn't be closer to each other. So, that part was a little odd. 

Overall, though, I enjoyed Marston and Kell's love story. I hope Bede gets his own story, eventually. I would like to know more about his character. 

Rating: 4.25 Stars

Reedkaye's Review:

This age gap story is about two guys who both face challenges. Kell ran away from an abusive father two years ago and has been on the streets since. He does whatever it takes to survive but ends up getting put in prison for a minor issue. He finds he is given a chance at a program working in the Farthingdale Valley New Start Program. When he gets there, he finds an instant attraction to Marston, a team leader.

Marston has been given an opportunity to work at the Farthingdale Valley New Start Program as a team leader. As he is given more responsibility, his lack of ego starts to show up a little more. While Kell is a hard worker, he doesn’t have the build to handle the work on Gabe’s crew so is reassigned to Marston. Marston has been attracted to Kell since he first saw him.  

As they work together, so much information on both of their histories comes out and paints a sad picture of what both have suffered.  

This is a great story that brings out so much emotion about not only these two but also the personalities of the other characters. Since this is the first I’ve read in this series, I’ve enjoyed this enough to go back and catch up with the previous stories.

Rating: 5 Stars

The Cowboy and the Outcast is currently available as an e-book and can be read as part of your Kindle Unlimited subscription.