Blu Reviews The Courage to Try by C. A. Popovich

“From Great Danes to Pomeranians to polydactyl cats, in the rural town of Novi, Michigan, veterinarian Dr. Jaylin Meyers treats them all. But being brought up in the foster care system, she’s learned not to count on anyone staying around.

New vet tech Kristen Eckert has no time for a relationship. She’d much rather take care of horses, shoot skeet, or ride her Appaloosa. Their mutual attraction takes them both by surprise, and they are drawn into a relationship.

But Jaylin is frightened by the idea of relying on someone else and withdraws. When Kristen is injured in an auto accident, can Jaylin find the courage to risk her heart with Kristen or will she let her chance at love vanish forever?” – Synopsis as supplied by Bold Strokes Books

C.A. Popovich’s second novel, The Courage to Try, returns us to a setting and cast of characters familiar from Edge of Awareness (Published in September 2014). Readers who have not read the latter can comfortably slip into this undemanding romance without experiencing any plot deficit. Novi, Michigan is the town to which Jaylin Meyers, carrying the scars of her foster-childhood, moves, accompanied by her dog Railroad. Extricating herself from an abusive relationship, she attempts to reboot her life aided by a support group and is making conscious choices about her life path, location and relationships. Jaylin’s caring nature is offset by her tentative interactions with the feisty employee assigned to her.

Kristen is the more dynamic character who is simultaneously less relatable. A Porsche-driving, skeet-shooting vet tech who is navigating her father’s dementia, she is hounded by a stranger who has a hidden agenda. Kristen expresses herself most on the back of Zigzag at local barrel racing competitions, and it is in this setting where we gain a deeper understanding of her hurts, needs and aspirations. She is decisive in so many aspects of her life but frustratingly reverses relationship-oriented decisions, flip-flopping from declarations to maintain distance, to struggling to keep her hands off Jaylin.

The Courage to Try is peppered with a wide variety of ideas, from partner-abuse to abandonment, from attraction to grief, yet does not fully develop any to satisfaction. Like me, animal lovers should enjoy the devotion the characters have to their four-footed wingmen, but may similarly wish the dialogue between Jaylin and Kristen were more realistic and their developing relationship suffered from less vascilation.

The novel’s 33 chapters would have benefitted from a trim, saving the reader from re-learning already shared information. Regarding pace – the story appears to be becalmed and then rush to a sudden, dissatisfying conclusion. The attraction between Jaylin and Kristen is not quite convincing this reader, surprising me more than the two women and leaving me feeling rather disconnected from the story. The Courage to Try offered much but perhaps overstretched, resulting in a tenuous plot that needs tightening.

*Note: This was an advance review copy provided through NetGalley – scheduled for release on October 6, 2015 from Bold Strokes Books.

You can download a sample or purchase The Courage to Try by clicking here.

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