Cowboy to the Core

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 19 Jul 2019

Member Reviews

Gabe Dalton has recently left the rodeo circuit and is now running his father’s horse ranch. He’s in need of a trainer, so he hires neighbor Jamie Dodge, a tomboy who has grown up with three overprotective brothers and just needs a break from her family. Her mother died just after giving birth to her, so she’s never had the guidance needed to tap into her feminine side. So, when sparks start to fly between the two of them, neither one knows what to do with the unwanted attraction. Gabe, being much older and with a reputation as a player, knows her brothers will kill him if he touches her, and Jamie only knows about sex from watching animals. The road to romance is rocky and, at times, very humorous, but both protagonists are struggling with major baggage. Jamie has never been attracted to any man, especially not one from the rodeo circuit and Gabe’s parents’ marriage has taught him to not trust love. However, the passion they discover and the way they bring out the best in each other is a pleasure to see unfold. They both experience some major personal growth, and Yates does a stellar job of smoothing the path to a happily-ever-after. Fans will look forward to Gabe’s brothers’ stories in coming installments. 

I received a complimentary ARC of this book from HQN through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Opinions expressed are completely my own.
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COWBOY TO THE CORE is book six in the Gold Valley series by Maisey Yates and revolves around a hard as nails cowgirl and a rodeo champ/rancher with a twist on an office romance type of scenario.

For those familiar with the Gold Valley series, you will quickly recognize Jamie from meeting her in the former books centering around Get Out of Dodge ranch. She has left her job at the ranch to go work with Gabe setting up a refuge for older horses, and it doesn't take her long to realize that for basically the first time in her life, she's attracted to a cowboy. She's grown up in the lifestyle and thought she knew them upside down but Gabe brings out feelings in her that she's not so sure she's ready for.

Gabe knew Jamie's horse skills would be beneficial to his set-up at the ranch, but he didn't realize how much he would be drawn to her as a person. They each have a large part of their past tied to family events and as they work their way through their own hang-ups, they tear down a lot of walls with each other.

I highly recommend this book to anyone wanting a small town romance with tons of emotion and grit. Jamie and Gabe were golden together and even though they kind of tore each other's hearts out in the midst of it all, the way they slide into that happily ever after is simply magical! This entire series has been great and are all stand-alones, but I highly recommend reading them in order as it brings a much deeper connection to each group of characters to already know the family and background.
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ust when I think that Maisey Yates can't possibly write a book that's better than her last one, she somehow manages to do just that, and she most certainly did so in this sixth and aptly named sicth novel in her Gold Valley series, which, quite simply, both tore my heart out and had me rooting for her two broken leading characters, Gage Dalton and Jamie Dodge. This amazingly moving and addictive novel gets 5 huge stars from this reader. 

Jamie Dodge, age 25, is one tough cookie whose life had barely begun when 2 days after she was born, her mother died of a blood clot. Jamie's always blamed her own birth for killing her mother, and since losing her mother, she was raised by her heartbroken father and her older cowboy brothers, and was always treated as one of boys. With no mom to guide, instruct or help her, she's dealt with most of her female issues alone--she works like a guy, dresses like a guy, and meets every problem head-on like a guy--hiding her loneliness and pain behind a mask of toughness, just like a guy, working alongside her brothers at Get Out of Dodge, the family guest ranch. Jamie's got an uncanny way with horses and dreams of someday entering the rodeo circuit as a barrel racer. She's never been kissed, never been on a date, never really had gal pals either, and at age 25, Jamie is still a virgin. But that's about to change in a major way.

Gabe Dalton has had his own rough childhood. His father was a serial cheater, aided and abetted by the rodeo, which made him a legend, made him a lot of money, and make one-night stands with buckle bunnies a regular occurrence. Gage's mom knew all about his cheating ways, and Gage and his brothers all heard the yelling matches and broken promises throughout their childhood. His brothers are emotionally damaged too, each in his own way, and they also have a recently discovered a half-sister, McKenna, whose arrival was explored in a previous novel. All Gabe wanted was to be a cowboy, but his father wanted him to go to college instead, and when Gage refused, his father hurt him in the worst way possible, by selling all the horses on the ranch. His mother encouraged Gage to join the rodeo instead, but her motives for doing so come later in the novel and I won't spoil it for you. 

But now, prize-winning, bronc riding champion, Gage is back from the rodeo with a new dream--opening up the ranch to underprivileged, unwanted, homeless and abused children, as well as emotionally damaged veterans, and he needs someone who can train his horses to accept riders with little to no experience and emotional issues, and there's no one better suited to do that than Jamie Dodge, who agrees to take the job, hoping to earn enough money to fund her dream of a rodeo career. 

Although Gage is Jamie's boss, from day one in his employ, she's in his face, up-front and confrontational, something Gage didn't expect, but as he watched her work with his horses, her knowledge and insight into them and their personalities turned her initially off-putting prickly, temperamental attitude into something he admired, respected, was intrigued by and which he slowly learned to accept--just as he slowly became attracted to tomboyish Jamie.

It takes rare insight for an author to get inside the heads and hearts of these these two broken characters, explore their pain, and still turn them into sympathetic, deep, 3-dimensional individuals, who are trying to heal each other and themselves, not only in ways that the reader can understand and appreciate, but also in ways that readers can apply her character's issues, to their own broken pieces, pain and history. It's a rare gift to be able to write a novel that has characters so real, so troubled, and so vivid that the reader cannot only share their pain, their disappointments, and their life experiences, but that the reader can take hope from how they meet those challenges with courage, honesty and emotional growth. The lessons these characters learn from each other are lessons that the reader can learn from too. It's a talent Maisey Yates has in spades, in what I feel is her most heartfelt and moving novel to date. After finishing this novel in the wee hours of the morning, I felt changed. There are issues that deeply resonated with me and my own history, and it's a novel I felt privileged to read, and I think you'll feel the same way about it that I did. It's a novel you should immediately add to your TBR list, but although it works as a standalone, reading the books in this series in the order in which they were written will add so much to the experience that I suggest you do just that. 

I voluntarily read an advance reader copy of this novel. The opinions expressed are my own.
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To date, there are 19 Copper Ridge romances and this, Cowboy To the Core, sixth in the complementary Gold Valley series. And here I am, having stayed up late to inhale yet another Maisey Yates romance. You’d think, after 25 of an author’s works, I’d be ready to roll my eyes and thrown in the reader bookmark. Nope. If you asked me which are my favourites so far (’cause I know you’re aching to read these, but may not be willing to tackle all 25), I’d say Brokedown Cowboy (Copper Ridge #2), One Night Charmer (Copper Ridge #7), Seduce Me, Cowboy (Copper Ridge #12), and A Tall, Dark Cowboy Christmas (Gold Valley #4) are top-notch, but I’ve enjoyed each and every one. (Any Copper Ridge/Gold Valley may be read as a standalone, but there are cameos of happy couples from previous books. So you’ve been warned.)

For those familiar with the series, the final Dodge sibling and sole girl, Jamie Dodge, of the Get Out of Dodge ranch, finally gets her HEA. A surly shadow, a good friend to Beatrix and McKenna (heroines of previous books, who make appearances here), a tom-boy to her brothers and dad, Jamie was not, at least for me, the most interesting of potential heroines. I’m not keen on tom-boy heroines who discover womanhood. Yates, on the other hand, does love a tom-boy heroine who, in the course of her sexual awakening with the hero (another Yates signature), also discovers pretty dresses and make-up. Ugh, it’s the cowgirl version of the secretary who takes her glasses off and puts her hair down and ta-da, insta-beauty. To give Yates credit, it makes no difference to the hero: he finds the heroine beautiful in Wranglers and a sports bra. Thus with hero Gabe Dalton and Jamie.

Gabe and Jamie spend time together when Gabe hires Jamie to help with rehabilitating former rodeo horses on his family’s ranch. With daily contact comes conversation and physical proximity, kindling to the Yates romance-fire. Thematically, Yates believes that meeting your one, true love upends your life in painful, cracking-things-open ways and resurrects you emotionally where you were soul-protective and numb before. Falling in love also dredges up the past in a way that exposes old childhood wounds, wounds that until now festered but appeared healed over. The emotional dissonance of falling in love makes those wounds ache; unless they’re admitted, acted upon, and resolved emotionally and oftentimes practically, hero and heroine cannot reach their HEA (except they always do, because hey, romance, that’s why we love it). The Yatesian HEA’s foreshadowing is in the love-making’s intensity; the hero and heroine’s pleasure in which has a resonance and meaning that leave them astounded. They’re dense, though, and cannot yet admit what their bodies already know.

The hero and heroine’s emotional unblocking always comes in the form of confession to oneself, admitting you need and love the other, and then, admitting that you need and love the other to him, or her. Both are painful and difficult, but unless enacted, the person cannot be free to cleave to the other. Gabe and Jamie’s wounds stem from their childhood experiences and prove to be complex and interesting in a way their courtship, no matter the sexy times, does not. Yates’s characters tend to be mired in some notion of who they are that tells them that love, intimacy, and vulnerability are not for them. In Gabe’s case, it involves his unfaithful father and his betrayal of Gabe’s mother and Gabe himself and his love of ranching. Jamie’s blocking self-concept involves her mother’s death mere days after she gave birth to her and being brought up by four men, all loving but not exactly versed in the ways of bringing up a girly girl. As is Yates’s wont, conflict lies within; the nature of what is “within” leads to a rupture between hero and heroine. Betrayal is never a contrived situation, or even conflicted loyalties, it is always arrive in the form of the hero and heroine’s emotional impediments. 

The important moment comes when the hero and heroine break through this notion, a notion that tends to be mired in a false self-reliance (and it is to Yates’s credit that opening oneself up to love goes hand in hand with opening oneself up to needing other people, like friends and family). A beautiful sense of new-ness accompanies the HEA’s accomplishment which, for this reader, happily also comes with a commitment to marriage, family, and a continued pursuit of meaningful work. (I thought, if I could fault Yates for something here, it’s that the HEA is short and somewhat hurried.) These are the reasons why I read and will continue to read Yates. In the case of Cowboy To the Core, with Miss Austen, we say here is “a mind lively and at ease,” Emma.

Maisey Yates’s Cowboy To the Core is published by HQN Books. It was released on June 18th and may be found at your preferred vendor. I received an e-ARC from HQN Books, via Netgalley.
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Jamie Dodge is a 25-year old, motherless woman, who has been unaware of how much she really missed by never having a mother -- she'd died two days after Jamie was born -- and by being brought up by her father and 3 older brothers, who taught her how to basically take care of herself, never realizing that maybe she needed some TLC.  Now she's started working for Gabe Dalton, a neighboring rancher, helping with abused horses. He has his own big problems:  a father who sold his horses out from under him when he was a teen, hoping that would force him away from ranching, a mother who lied to him about his father in order to get Gabe to leave and join the rodeo, 2 younger brothers who are dealing with guilt over the death of a long time friend. The attraction between the two is electrifying and they try hard to ignore it, ultimately failing. They each needed the other more than they realized to break through their walls, and finally succeeded.

Past characters come into the story as well, Bea and McKenna. A good addition to the series.
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I had a hard time with this story at the beginning.  Jamie just came off as too strong and with a chip in her shoulder.  As the story progressed, I started to understand some of her attitude.  It was actually about a third of the way through the story that I started to really get interested and engaged with the story-line and characters.  
Both Jamie and Gabe had hard lives.  But, that's what made them who they are today.  Gabe always felt that he had something to prove and felt like he turned out just like the man he swore he would never be.  Jamie thought she knew everything there was to know about men, cowboy's in particular, because she was raised by a whole bunch of them.  No cowboy was ever going to get the best of her, especially a womanizer like Gabe.  She knew how to hold her own, how to prove herself and how to handle cowboy's and horses.  
But, things were changing for both of them.  Gabe found out the truth about the past.  Realized that there may be more to him than meets the eye. And, most of all, started correcting the sins of the past.    Jamie found out that it was okay to feel things, to feel like she missed out on something special and opening her heart to the possibility of love … because she deserved it.
The road was a long and arduous one but worth it for both Jamie and Gabe.  They found out things about themselves and found each other.  It's okay to love, want to be loved and to love back … no matter the circumstances.
Like I said, I felt the story was a little slow in the beginning.  But, once you understood where the characters were coming from, why they felt like they did, then it all came together.  It was beautiful watching Jamie grow into a young woman and Gabe accept his faults, move on and open himself up to the possibility of love.
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Yates draws readers back into her tale of cowboys and those who surround her in a manner that will leave you absolutely breathless.
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Cowboy to the Core by Maisey Yates is the next book in the Gold Valley Series (#6).  The book follows various people - mostly cowboys who live in Gold Valley.  The whole series includes lots of hot cowboys, many of who have to reinvent themselves after various happenings and the smart, sexy women who love them.  What more do you need?

Jamie Dodge is the youngest of the Dodge family and the only girl.  She was constantly trying to keep up with her brothers and has grown up being overshadowed by them.  She is a brilliant horsewoman whos is able to identify and understand a horse’s temperament.  She is working for Gabe Dalton, an ex bronco rider.  He has started to take in ex rodeo horses and help rehab and rehome them.  Gabe is searching for his new way and dealing with a lot of leftover stuff from his upbringing and parents.  

Jamie speaks her mind, isn’t always politically correct, and is not a girly girl, but she may have unresolved feelings over her new boss… like she feels jealous when he goes to pick up a woman at the local bar.  She interferes and that is when things get really interesting.  I enjoyed Jamie and Gabe and enjoyed their storyline.  I liked what Gabe decided to do with the ranch and am looking forward to seeing his dream grow as the series continues (hopefully) with his brothers finding their HEA.  Cowboy to the Core by Maisey Yates is a good read.
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I am one of those readers that gets annoyed & totally ruins the story for me if there are so many spelling errors & inconsistencies in a story - which this was. It would have been a solid 4 stars if not for that.

I received an ARC of this book by NetGalley and the publisher. The opinions expressed in this review are my own and have not been influenced in any way.
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Jamie Dodge and Gabe Dalton come from two prominent rancher families in Golden Valley, both rancher royalty in their own way.  Jamie is the youngest of the Dodge children, and only girl. Through the series, glimpses of Jamie show her to be a tough, feisty sister, not willing to show vulnerability.  Her mother died just days after giving birth to her, and she’d swear that you can’t miss what you never had. And yet, I felt Jamie’s loss along with her as her long ignored feelings surface. Especially, since working with Gabe Dalton brings out emotions she never thought she’d feel. There’s a bit of a snarky dance between Gabe and Jamie until it’s impossible to deny their mutual desire and attraction. Oh, their sexy times sizzled!

Gabe Dalton battles his own issues from the past.  His father was a habitual philanderer making his parent’s marriage a mess of full of constant up and downs.  Gabe fears he’s programmed to follow in his father’s footsteps if he attempts a serious relationship. However, his feelings for Jamie are anything but casual. 

I was wrapped up in Jamie and Gabe’s story from page one!  I felt their emotions like they were my own; from their sadness and indignation, to their passion and lust. My only niggle is that things wrapped up a little maybe a little too easily and quickly for my tastes, and yet it was pretty low on drama, so I shouldn’t complain since over-the-top drama drives me nuts.  It’s always easy to sink in and want to tune out the world when I pick up one of Maisey Yates’ romances. And now I can’t wait to pick up the next book, which is centers on another Dalton, Gabe’s brother Jacob!
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3.5 stars rounded up

Maisey Yates is my reliable cowboy romance author when I need to get out of a reading slump. I know exactly what I am getting (but sometimes I want to be surprised, hence the 3.5 instead of 4)

I love a good cowboy and Maisey certainly writes them well; its the heroine character that's been bugging me lately: usually a bit younger, naive, virgin, inexperienced. Show me a woman who knows what she wants and doesn't need the cowboy to finally figure out he needs her in his life.
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This was the first book that I have read from this author and #6 in the series, but enough back stories about the peripheral characters, allowed me to read it as a a stand alone. The characters are wonderful and the story masterfully written.

Jamie Dodge's mother died when she was 3 days old, and she was raised by her grieving father and 3 older brothers as one of the boys. She learned if she fell, she needed to pick herself up, because there was no one to comfort her. Recently however, she has learned that the people in town had pitied her- but none of the women stepped up to teach her what a girl needs to know. But now at twenty-five, with her father re-married and moved away, and her brothers and best friends married or in engaged, she has decide it is her time to leave and chase her dream to be a barrel racer on the rodeo circuit. But to do that, she needs more money than her brother is paying her to work at the family ranch, GET OUT OF DODGE, so she accepts a job with neighbor Gabe Dalton.

Rodeo champion, Gabe Dalton is in the process of turning the family ranch into a horse sanctuary and hired Jamie, a horse whisperer of sorts, to help him get started. The Dalton family is totally dysfunctional. Gabe's dream had always been to be a rancher and cowboy, but his rodeo star, philandering father, wanted more for his sons than he had had, wanted them to go to college, so sold all the horses. Angry at her husband, his mother manipulated him to running off to the rodeo, where he became a champs, but had a lonely life.

Despite the 10 years difference in age, for the first time in her life, Jamie is attracted to a man, Gabe, and while she is opposite of all the buckle bunnies that he has played with in the past, he finds her fascinating. With Gabe, she experiences self discoveries and all kinds of firsts. But will heartbreak be one of them, when his fear of being his parents, prevents him from admitting that he fears love, because anything he had ever loved had been taken from him?

I received a free advanced copy of this book from This is my unbiased and voluntary review.
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Jamie is a strong and confident women who refuses any one's help. Gabe needs Jamie's help as a ranch hand since her specialty seems to be working with horses she's really an asset. Thing is the more they are around each other the attraction grows.

In a fan is Maisy Yates books and I've been following along with this series and loving it. I love getting to know these new sets of characters getting to see the previous characters play thier part in this most recent book. If your looking for a great steamy romance with characters that have flaws they are trying to work on you'll like this book. I loved getting to know these characters. There was this whole messed up thing going on you'll come to know with the parents holding secrets and seeing how - well can't get into it. Then there's the romance which I love watching as well if was cute. Overall great book I enjoyed it.
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Another wonderful book in this series, I love all these characters.  I really loved how Jamie came out of shell and figured out she doesn't have to be tough all the time.  Gabe was amazing even when I wanted to smack him around a few times.  These two were just perfect for one another.
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I really enjoyed Jamie and Gabe's story. I liked both these characters and my heart ached for them both. They each had their own emotional baggage and a collection of past hurts that haunted them. I found the storyline entertaining and the characters complex. Jamie was such a strong, smart, talented woman in many ways but she was as green as grass in others. Gabe at his foundation was a really great guy. A straight shooter, kind and a gentleman cowboy but so closed-off because of his childhood history. All together a solid entry in this series and I thought a simply wonderful read.
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Cowboy to the Core by Maisey Yates is book 6 in the Gold Valley Series.  This is the story of Gabe Dalton and Jamie Dodge.  I have read the previous book, but feel you can make this a standalone book if you wish to do so. 
Gabe was once a redo cowboy star but who is now working on building his horse farm/ranch.  Gabe needs a trainer and he wants the best, which leads him to as Jamie to be that trainer.  Jamie lost her mother after her birth  This left her brothers and fathers to raise her which of course she turned into a top boy who loves working with horses, but more importantly has a great skill at it.  Jamie has never been attracted to anyone and has just focused on her work.  But when Jamie and Gabe start working closer together but start to fill the pull of each other.  But Gabe has seen enough of marriage and love after his parents relationship, so he been a free loving playboy.  But there is something about Jamie that starting to prove him wrong. 
Sweet Romance.
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3.5 Stars
This is another strong entry to the Maisey Yates series. Cowboy to the Core covers the bringing together of two distrusting people. Each had their reasons to not believe in love or relationships. It is when they are forced to work together, their walls begin to crumble.
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COWBOY TO THE CORE is absolutely one of the best books I've read this year. It has banter, coming of age, swoon-worthy romance, and the characters I have grown to love over the last few books. People always ask me why I enjoy Maisey's books so much, and this story is a prime example. Each book is deep and complex with palpable emotions from each and every character mentioned. Maisey Yates writes some of the most three-dimensional characters I have ever read. Even her secondary characters have depth!

The book follows Jamie, who just started working for Gabe on his ranch. Jamie is trying to start a new chapter in her life and Gabe is trying to figure out his next life steps as well. It has been a long time since I connected with a character as much as I connected with Jamie Dodge. Which is amazing because I have almost nothing in common with her.

I challenge you to read this book and not relate to Jamie's feeling of displacement and loneliness as her family all moves on with their lives and she is seemingly left behind. My heart hurt for her. She has always been confident to a fault; it was beautiful and heartbreaking to watch her learn some hard truths about herself and life in general. The woman only wears sports bras for goodness sakes! Jamie lived a very sheltered life and watching her come into her own was a true joy.

While I connected with Jamie's personal growth more, Gabe's journey was wonderful as well. He was charming, grounded, and at the end of the day, a really good guy who knew a great woman when he met her. I especially appreciated the way he helped Jamie through her hurdles. Both of them were relationship newbies, and it showed, but the genuine affection and respect between the couple is what really made this book stand above.

Overall, I really wasn't sure I would like this book. Jamie isn't a heroine I usually gravitate towards, but Ms. Yates completely sold me. I want to tell everyone about this book. I this  is going to stay one of my top reads of 2019. 

**I received an ARC of this book in order to provide an honest review**
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I don't think it's secret that I love all of Maisey's books and I was exceptionally excited for Jamie's story.

I've loved Jamie since the first time we saw her.  She seemed skittish and prickly and I couldn't wait to get inside her head.  I should have known that underneath the crunchy shell was the start of a marshmallow.  I really enjoyed seeing her work through her feelings and grow as much as she did.  Gabe was interesting.  He's got a good amount of baggage and I would have liked more of his growth through the entire story instead of a chapter at the end, but it sort of works.  Together, they had great chemistry and definitely an annoyed-to-interested type of story. 

Plot wise, it was good.  There was a lot of inner monologue that felt repetitive and while there was a a good amount of conversation, somehow it still didn't seem like enough.  I didn't quite get the leap from lust to love in less than a month--even if they have casually known each other for a while. And as always, I truly enjoyed seeing all of the other characters. 

Overall, it was the characters that kept me reading.  I do think the marriage proposal at the end wasn't really needed, but I'm happy to see that they were heading in that direction...although I wouldn't have hated an epilogue.  Regardless of what Maisey writes next, I'm reading it. 

**Huge thanks to HQN Books for providing the arc free of charge**
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3.5 Stars! What I love about Maisey Yates books, is I know what I'm getting myself into, specifically sexy and multilayered cowboys!! I'm also here for the female leads that read as tomboys.I love that Jamie has that type of personality, and I love her independent nature. Although at times, it also makes me frustrated with her. I'd say one of the nice things about this book is that its an easy read, but can still stir up some emotions in the reader! If you love Maisey Yates, this book is for you!
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