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Just Not Ready Yet

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Charlize 'Charlie' McCloud, young widow and mother, is seemingly content with her secluded life on a sprawling Texas ranch. Her moonlit horseback rides provide the perfect dreamscape to obsessively reminisce about her college sweetheart—her first and final love—Cash McCloud.

When intern Hunter Bowie arrives on her ranch to work for the summer, his engaging persona threatens Charlie's treasured reliving. Her interest in moving on as departed as her late husband, Hunter's youthful exuberance and guitar revives dreams she once laid to rest.

Hunter's presence stirs up everyone around the ranch, including her late husband's older brother, Cage McCloud. A near replica of Cash, Cage's very existence is a painstaking reminder of how much she has lost.

Unintentionally revealing the truth about Cash's death, Cage sets off a firestorm of emotions, ultimately propelling Charlie to face her future—hopefully one that includes him.

Music single to the novel Just Not Ready Yet can be streamed on www.brooklyn-james.com or downloaded from Amazon, iTunes & CDBaby.

286 pages, Kindle Edition

First published November 1, 2014

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About the author

Brooklyn James

13 books227 followers
Wife, mother, author, singer-songwriter, daydreamer, night-thinker!

Brooklyn's first novel, The Boots My Mother Gave Me, has an original music soundtrack, making for a unique Audible experience. Out of Boots grew a platform where it was her honor to serve as a guest speaker with a focus on awareness and prevention of domestic violence and suicide.

She holds an M.A. in Communication, and a B.S. in both Nursing and Animal Science.


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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 17 of 17 reviews
Profile Image for Kathleen.
691 reviews91 followers
November 4, 2014
Review posted at: Swept Away By Romance

Story Rating ~ 5 Stars
Hero Rating ~ 4 Stars
Heroine Rating ~ 5 Stars
Romance Rating ~ 5 Stars
Heat Level ~ 3 Stars
Ending ~ 5 Stars
Overall Rating ~ 5 BIG TEXAS STARS!

This book was AMAZING and a VERY EMOTIONAL read for me.

This is a story about a young widow and mother that has been struggling for years to get over the death of her husband. He was the love of her life and her first and only true love. Just Not Ready Yet gives us Charlie’s story, about how she struggles from day to day, missing her husband, being a mother, running a ranch and also owning/running a record store.

The story starts off with a young man named Hunter who comes to work on her ranch. He’s a VERY SEXY young man that is easy to get along with and he quickly becomes part of the family. There is also another man in the picture too, Charlie’s brother in-law, Cage. Cage looks, sounds, and acts so much like her dearly departed husband Cash, which is a bit hard for Charlie to deal with.

The story goes back in forth in time, but it did not distract me at all. I loved that we were told how Charlie and Cash met. The whole back story was done so well that I completely understood why the loss of him hit her so hard and for so long.

One day Cage and his mother Libby are having a verbal disagreement; Cage in the heat of the moment slips up and says something about Cash that he never told anyone about. Needless to say, Charlie over heard what Cage said, and it puts her husband death in a whole new light. She’s really mad about what she hears, and ends up having sex for the first time since her husband’s death. I’m not going to tell you who she has sex with, but I will say that this is where she finally starts to live again.

Charlie was my favorite character of this read despite the fact that she had a hard time moving on after the death of her husband. She is a very smart, strong woman who puts the people she cares for first. I also LOVED what an awesome mother she was to her two children.

There were SO MANY FANTASTIC main and secondary characters. Charlie’s children were priceless; the men were all strong, sexy and caring. We also met Glamma Libby, Cash and Cage’s mother, and at times she was a hoot and added some humor to the story, and other times she said and did some things that angered me.Heck, even the horses had great personalities. All these well thought out characters added so much to this read.

As the story moved along, I learned a thing or two about ranching. Brooklyn James must have done some extensive research and it was all fascinating to read about. We also got a front row seat and saw how a country music star was born. There was always something happening which kept me turning the pages; there was not a boring moment to be had in the entire book.

The heat level was a sensual 3 stars for me. I usually prefer my books to be a bit hotter, but with this book it didn't matter so much, because the story line had my full attention. With that being said there were a few love/sex scenes that I’m sure will please most readers.

In the end, Charlie is finally ready to move on with her life and there was a VERY HAPPY ENDING!

I highly recommend this book to all contemporary romance readers who love to read an emotional story with fantastic characters and an excellent story line.

*A copy of the book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review*
Profile Image for Marta Cox.
2,574 reviews191 followers
April 21, 2015
Welcome to Austin , Texas and the life of Charlie McCloud. A widow with two adorable children and a ranch to run that keeps her pretty busy. Caught up in the grief she feels since losing her much loved husband Cash, Charlie has thrown herself into work but her life is stagnating under the responsibilities she has shouldered. Enter Hunter, a vibrant confident young guy looking to earn money during the summer vacation. He's not much of a ranch hand if honest and his soul is full of music but the next few months working for Charlie will see life changing events for both of them.
Cage is the elder brother of Cash and just seeing his close resemblance to her husband causes Charlie to get jittery. When a chance remark by him makes everything Charlie held strong to seem like flotsam on the wind she doesn't quite know where to turn and then Hunter is there to help her remember that she didn't die when Cash did. The catalyst is set and this story is far from over as this family discover just what being a family really means.
This is my first book by this author and it's not exactly what I was expecting. I'm a huge romance reader and found this story to be so much more than a quest for romance and happiness . Charlie is a character who has many obstacles to overcome not least of them being her own guilt. The idea of moving on is anathema to her and indeed the only time she seems to feel at peace is when she remembers her time with Cash. She's a stubborn lady though and resists moving forward but she's not the only one who can be hard headed and Cage is waiting in the wings to catch her if she falls. So a huge surprise to this reader as initially it's Hunter who takes centre stage but the lovely Cage certainly deserved his happy ending.
Fabulous supporting characters and even the horses had personalities which made me smile. The author includes lots of details about ranch life so has clearly done her homework. Unfortunately I did not enjoy the style that this book is written in and it took me a while to become hooked. I do personally enjoy first person narratives and this felt more like having a stilted narrator tell the story at times. That being said if you are looking for an uplifting story about overcoming obstacles to secure a happy future then this might just be the next book in your to be read pile!
I was gifted a copy in exchange for an honest review
Profile Image for Jacqueline J.
3,466 reviews318 followers
December 15, 2014
The only thing worse than first person present tense is third person present tense. Worse even than that is poor grammar within that tense. Pronouns have to match their antecedent. Pronouns should have some sort of antecedent even.

Authors shouldn't make up words. "This isn't so bad," he spirits to himself." Say what again? I talk to myself all the time but I don't know how to spirit something to myself. Let's look that up. 27 noun usages for this word and 2 verb usages. The author is using this as a verb. So is Hunter animating this with fresh ardor? Nope. Is he carrying it off mysteriously? Nope again. Tried to figure out if this was a typo. I can't come up with anything this should have been.

Authors should make sure their sentences say what they intend them to say. Example: "Charlie around?" Hunter inquires of the owner who hired him for his summer work study program." Hunter is talking to a ranch hand. He is inquiring ABOUT the owner who is nowhere near Hunter at the time of the conversation. Therefore he did not inquire OF the owner.

Additionally, horse terminology and horse scenes shouldn't make a horse owner wince.

I know that someone is going to carp at me about reviewing a book I didn't read all the way through. However, had someone posted a review telling me about the poor writing/grammar and odd tense choice I wouldn't have purchased the book. So it really is a valid review.

I will say that the story line sounded interesting and I think that if the author had chosen to use 3rd person past tense, with hopefully a little editing by some sort of professional, this book might have been a okay read.
April 26, 2023
Just Trying to Fill His Shoes???

This was a predictable story of tangled drama just like an old country song. The plot actually had me checking statistics to see how often men fall in love with their deceased brother's wife. Google tells me it happens often.

I didn't care for all the trips down memory lane and the way they were presented. That is, all but one of them!

I didn't think the author was going to quit referencing old cars a country music. Thank god, she eventually did.

I was extremely disappointed in Cage's admission of love. The entire story was about his pursuit of his dead brother's wife. It was lackluster to say the least. The ending was just as flat as their confession of love, and with only a happy for now.

Okay Read
Profile Image for Maureen.
1,072 reviews34 followers
December 5, 2014
In ‘Just Not Ready Yet’ we meet Charlize ‘Charlie’ McCloud, a young widow with two young children. Charlie has lost the love of her life almost three years ago and now she is stuck trying to figure out how to move on without her husband. But everything Charlie sees and does reminds her of him. Especially when her husband’s brother Cage McCloud is around. Cage looks so much like his younger brother, and Charlie finds herself more and more attracted by him and not only because of his looks. Trying to stay away from Cage as much as possible, Charlie hires a summer help, Hunter. Hunter is a young and handsome guy in his early twenties and from the moment he arrives at the ranch everything changes. Hunter not only reminds Charlie that she has to move on for her children but he also helps her remember how much she loves music. Soon Hunter not only helps Charlie move on, but Hunter also finds out what family really is all about.

I love reading books about cowboys, ranch life and horses. Probably because that’s so completely different than the life I live. Reading about cowboys always makes me daydream about having my own ranch, and owning my own horses. But this book was so much more than a story about cowboys and horses. This story is about a woman who needs to find a way to live her life without the husband she loved so much. The dreams Charlie had about how she would grow old with her husband will never happen, and somehow Charlie will need to find a way to make new dreams.
I loved how this story was not only about Charlie and Cage finding their way but also about Hunter finding his. And I loved how Charlie and Hunter helped each other without even knowing it. I really enjoyed this story and I could totally imagine myself walking at that ranch.

What I liked most of all about this story was Charlie and Cage. In the beginning I found myself thinking about how strange this love story was, Cage being the older brother of Charlie’s deceased husband, but somehow Brooklyn James made this love story a beautiful and fitting one. The best thing about this book was that the story, just as life itself, wasn’t perfect. There was a lot of hurt and embarrassing moments and that just made this book more real to me.

The one thing that made this book a little confusing for me at times where the names of the McCloud brothers. Cash and Cage just sounded too much the same for me. It didn’t bother me so much that I didn’t like the book, but it was just a little confusing and I would find myself getting the names mixed up at times.

This book is definitely one I really enjoyed. It was an easy and relaxing book for me to read, and I loved reading about the present and the past life of Charlie. Charlie was an intriguing character and I enjoyed getting to know her.
Profile Image for Patty .
818 reviews370 followers
August 4, 2015
3.5 Stars!!

Opening Lines
“Keep on…keep on keepin’ on,’ Jack Ingram & The Beat Up Ford Band floods out of the speakers of a 1972 convertible Ford Bronco.
Hunter Bowie, a sandy-haired blue-eyed Texas A&M student, sits at the wheel of the customized maroon and white Bronco, proudly touting his school colors. Flagrant decals―Gig ’Em, I Bleed Maroon and Fear The Aggies―line his bumper.”

Just Not Ready Yet was a book that blew me away. I love reading a good romance story but this one just had elements to it that I wasn't expecting. This was my first read by Brooklyn James and I'm definitely interested in reading more of her future work.

When I first read the synopsis I gathered the fact that she's still dealing with the lost of her husband, but the flashbacks throughout this book were beautiful, my eyes were constantly watering! Trust me when I say those weren't the only moments my eyes were watering. Although the writing style was a bit hard for me to follow at times, the way Brooklyn James sheds light on her character is just amazing. I wanted happy endings for everyone!

Here I thought I would be getting a cute romance story with the Western setting. This did have the Western setting, but there was nothing cute about the romance! Now, let me elaborate on that before you get the wrong idea. I thought Charlie would experience a simple romance, something obvious and one that she would have to second guess if it was worth opening her heart again. What I wasn't expecting was to be so emotionally invested in Just Not Ready Yet! I didn't want to put this book down, every chance I got I read a couple of chapters needing to know who she would end up with and how the story would all tie together in the end.

I couldn't even imagine going through what Charlie went through, plus the "secrets" that come out. The life lessons and hidden message throughout Just Not Ready Yet were so inspiring. Overall, Just Not Ready Yet was a great romance read! This book had get characters, was emotional, great life lessons, and add in sprinkle of hotness!
Profile Image for DJ Sakata.
3,036 reviews1,747 followers
January 20, 2015
Favorite Quotes:

“LUST is a thief, she thinks to herself, correcting Cage, the superficial carnal urge a malignant assault on one’s senses, making fools of otherwise rational beings. At least there is honor in LOVE,…”

“No matter how or why his life was cut short, you have to know that the life he lived was everything he wanted it to be.”

My Review:

This was not what I was expecting as it was a rather melancholy story. Basically the woman is grieving throughout most of the book, which proves to be a rather long and drawn out process as she is still grieving for her husband 3 years after his death, while raising small children, running a ranch and a record store, writing songs, and communing with his spirit every night while taking moonlight horse rides around their property or visiting his gravesite. She feels guilty and adulterous for considering a relationship with another man. How she has energy for all this can only be explained by the fact that she hasn’t had sex or a man to bother with in over three years. This is more of a family drama than a romance, although I guess you could count her memories of her husband as a romance, but a new relationship finally starts up nearly half way through, stalls due to stubbornness, then starts up again right before the end. Her memories of her husband recalled during her night rides are sweet and wistful, but of course no one is as perfect as the most precious memories we chose to remember.
Profile Image for Lynn Worton.
863 reviews28 followers
December 16, 2014
This is a fantastic contemporary western romance. I loved it!

Charlize "Charlie" McCloud is a wonderful character. I liked her a lot. She is a young widow and mother, who is still mourning the death of her husband. Afraid to face the future without her college sweetheart, her world revolves around her children and the ranch. That is, until eighteen year old Hunter Bowie (pronounced like the knife), turns up and throws her life upside down. Hunter's entrance onto the scene makes Charlie realise that although her dreams of being a songwriter had been placed on the back burner, they were still there, waiting to be released.

Having read and loved another one of this author's books, I was looking forward to reading this book. I downloaded this book and started to read. I was completely hooked from the first page and didn't stop reading until I reached the end!

I have always had a soft spot for cowboy romances, but this book is so much more than just a romance. It is a story of hope and dreams, love and family. The story is told through three character's points of view: Hunter, Charlie and Cage, but Creek, a longtime ranch hand and Libby, Charlie's mother-in-law and Cash's and Cage's mother, have their say too.

The story has a few flashbacks to Charlie's and Cash's past, starting from their college days. I loved getting to know Cash in this way. I could see why Charlie would fall in love with him. He was charming and caring. The story took me on a roller coaster ride of emotions. I found myself shedding more than a few tears. A handful of tissues will be required whilst reading this book! There are some funny moments, as well as some sweet ones. I love the scene where Hunter has his musical debut at the record store and Ella and Dylan (Charlie's children) are collecting money for the cuss jar; it made me giggle. However, it's the sexual tension between Charlie and Cage that just about smolders on the page. Cage is a bit of an enigma, I would have liked to know him a bit better. He looks very much like his younger brother and Charlie finds herself attracted to him, but hating herself for it. However, Cage has been harbouring a dark secret of his own. When the secret is revealed, I found myself in complete shock; I certainly didn't see that one coming! However, love makes us promise to keep secrets, even from others we love. This can be very hard for those keeping their promise, so I fell a little in love with Cage myself. I loved watching their relationship grow and develop. I also loved the interaction between Cage and his niece and nephew. He would make a fantastic father, as he is loving and attentive towards them.

Brooklyn James has written a fantastic contemporary romance. I love her fast paced writing style, and the flow was wonderful. I am now looking forward to reading her other books as soon as I can.

Due to scenes of a sensual nature that are on the explicit side, I do not recommend this book to younger readers. However, I highly recommend this book if you love contemporary romances with sexy cowboys. - Lynn Worton
Profile Image for Charlie.
423 reviews23 followers
December 30, 2014
This book is set in my own part of the world: Austin, Texas. From the descriptions used, it is before a lot of the modernization and urban growth that has happened in the last 20 or so years.

I adored the characters. There wasn’t one I didn’t like. They all had a role to play in progressing the plot. Charlie, the main character, is a woman continuing her husband’s legacy three years after his death. She’s raising their two kids on their ranch outside of Austin, with the help of her husband’s mom, affectionately called Glamma Libby.

Cage, her husband’s older brother, tries to do what he can to help Charlie, but she rarely calls on him for help. Instead, this summer she’s hired an extra ranch hand, young A&M student Hunter Bowie.

Hunter takes quite a bit of heat for being an Aggie coming into prime Longhorn territory. He’s an all-around good guy about it, though, which speaks to his character. He also has some insight into how Charlie’s kids feel, having grown up without a father as well.

Charlie also owns a music store in downtown Austin. She has three musician employees running the show there, and she reigns in Hunter to do a show after hearing his musical talent. Charlie used to write songs – she used to sing – although that is long in the past…until Hunter comes.

The title of the novel comes from a song that Charlie finally agrees to write with Hunter. There are several sessions of their songwriting throughout the book, and it is interesting to see how the song develops. However, Charlie’s time with Hunter is developing into another issue entirely between her and Cage.

Ultimately Cage shares a bombshell secret about Cash’s death, which devastates both Charlie and Glamma Libby, and causes Charlie to really examine her future, what she wants and how she’s going to get it.

I enjoyed the flashback memories Charlie had about certain moments about her life with Cash: their first date, meeting his family for the first time, flying to New York to invite her parents to their wedding. These moments starkly contrast the differences between their families, and solidify how Charlie became and will always be a McCloud. She gave up her New York life long ago.

This novel was a wonderful read, and I could relate to it very well. The characters all served their specific roles and filled those shoes well. The setting couldn’t be any more beautiful than the Texas Hill Country, and the story was absolutely beautiful. Hunter Bowie is not the focus of the novel, but he is the pivotal character that is the catalyst for change in the story and in everyone’s lives.
Profile Image for Carol Kowalski.
22 reviews2 followers
November 2, 2014
Admittedly, I'm not typically a contemporary romance reader, however the sci-fi / mystery / thriller (with a dash of sensual romance) _Vigilare_ series by Brooklyn James captured my interest, so I couldn't help but read _Just Not Ready Yet_. I found myself captivated by Charlie and the McCloud family. Charlie has the fighter spirit of a New Yorker w/ a true blue Texas-sized heart; Charlie's poignant flashbacks during her moonlight rides talking to the Man on the Moon are tear-jerkers. Brooklyn James creates an independent, beautiful, talented, strong female leading role, yet again and true-blue good ol' boys who recognize an amazing woman when they meet one -- And of course, every strong woman loves sizzling passion to satisfy a carnal need ;). Each novel gets better and better :)! There's nothing better than a book you can truly dive into -- perfect for snuggling up, wrapped in your favorite blanket, and enjoying your favorite toasty beverage this fall -- I'm not typically a romance fan, but this gets two thumbs way up in my book. Brooklyn James truly impresses with her versatility in genre :)!
65 reviews
November 2, 2014
Paths, some cross, some never do. Do we control which ones we take or is it in the hands of fate?

Hunter Bowie heads into Texas Hill Country to begin a work/study program with a Charlie McCloud. After being bested by a runaway mare and a staple gun, Hunter settles into life on the ranch. Not having a real plan for the summer, Hunter enjoys being part of the ranch ‘family’.

As Hunter and Charlie (aka Charlize) bond over their love of music, they find themselves on converging and diverging paths. Will Charlie move past the loss of her first love, late husband Cash, and allow her heart to come alive again?

Think of a young horse, being broken-in, learning to trust a new rider. It falls on the trainer to teach the horse the skills needed to help on the ranch, and to trust those people around him.

As the twists and turns play out along the dirt paths, you’ll feel Charlie’s heartache and wonder if she’ll rein in her heart or gallop toward her future.

Charlie's journey is one rough ride. You'll find yourself wanting the best for her, but unsure who will be the right stablemate. ;)
Profile Image for Charlotte Lynn.
1,890 reviews40 followers
November 4, 2014
I love a good, easy romance book and that is what I was thinking this was. It kinda of was, it kinda wasn’t. This had a lot of romance, some of it hot and steamy, some of it nice and easy. It also is the story of a woman left to raise her two young children after her husband unexpectedly dies. How she copes with being a single mom, not wanting lose her memories of her husband, and trying to move on with life are all part of this story. Then throw in her husbands, hot older brother and things get complicated.

Brooklyn James managed to write a story that kept me entertained and unable to put the book down. There were some parts that I loved more than others, but none that made me stop reading. I was cheering for Charlie to be able to move on with her life and start living again. I knew who I wanted her to end up with, but mostly I just wanted her end up with someone who could love and respect her.

This is my first book by Brooklyn James and I am sure I will be reading more. I definitely recommend checking out Just Not Ready Yet.
Profile Image for McKenzie Smith.
302 reviews7 followers
October 21, 2019
Just Not Ready Yet was beautifully written and I loved how Brooklyn James mixed Charlie's past with the present flawlessly. The flash backs always had meaning and were very well timed throughout the book. The main characters all played strong roles and each had great personalities that complimented and challenged each other. You couldn't help but wish for the best for each one of them. The emotions that they all experienced are easily felt by the reader and I found myself tearing up more than once. Charlie's children were delightful and I could not help but wish there were more kids as wonderful and understanding as them. I even loved the individual personalities of the horses! I have known many horses similar to Hell on Hooves and got a good chuckle out of her fiery attitude. James was spot on with the ranching and the horses; I am always looking for flaws in books when it comes to writing about horses and riding. The story line flowed really well and there were some steamy scenes that would not let you put the book down. The ending of the story was really uplifting and the hidden meanings found throughout the book did not go unnoticed. I would definitely recommend this!
Profile Image for Angie.
2,849 reviews13 followers
January 12, 2015
Synopsis: "Charlize 'Charlie' McCloud, young widow and mother, is seemingly content with her secluded life on a sprawling Texas ranch. Her moonlit horseback rides provide the perfect dreamscape to obsessively reminisce about her college sweetheart—her first and final love—Cash McCloud.

When intern Hunter Bowie arrives on her ranch to work for the summer, his engaging persona threatens Charlie's treasured reliving. Her interest in moving on as departed as her late husband, Hunter's youthful exuberance and guitar revives dreams she once laid to rest.

Hunter's presence stirs up everyone around the ranch, including her late husband's older brother, Cage McCloud. A near replica of Cash, Cage's very existence is a painstaking reminder of how much she has lost.

Unintentionally revealing the truth about Cash's death, Cage sets off a firestorm of emotions, ultimately propelling Charlie to face her future—hopefully one that includes him."

My Review: I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. I really enjoyed the setting of the story, the author stuck true to the setting she used along with little details about the college rivalry. The story and the characters had plenty of back story, a little too much at times with all the flash backs. While I enjoyed the story and the different character elements, occasionally it would get overly descriptive. Also, in my opinion the story went on a little too long with a few too many imagined roadblocks and conflicts. There were many times towards the end that I thought the book could have ended perfectly but instead there was another conflict thrown up to push the characters away before bringing them back together. I think this one just needs a little more editing and polishing. There is a link at the end of the book to the song that the characters write in the story which was lovely.
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