Hart & Stocker by Max EllendaleHart & Stocker by Max Ellendale is a romance with a lot of angst and emotion.

Willa Hart is a veterinarian in a small rural town in Washington State. When she’s called out to a farm thought to be empty, she’s intrigued. As far as she was aware the owner died, so who was calling her out to treat a sick horse?

Gruff U.S. Marshal Dax Stocker has come back home after years away in Seattle. She’s been left her father’s farm and is hiding away from the world there, pushing away all attempts to get to know her. Until Willa sees something in her worth pursuing.

Why is Dax so determined to keep everyone away? Willa is drawn to this tortured soul and wants to help her. The attraction between them is so profound that Dax may not be able to resist – and Willa is going to make it her life’s goal to help heal the woman she loves.

The Characters

Willa is caring, determined and very loving. But she also has her own demons to deal with. Although we think she’s the strong one helping Dax, there are things in her own life she’s never faced head on. I liked the complexity of her character, the fact that she was healing as she helped her lover. The character was exceptionally well written, as the layers peeled back slowly over the course of the novel.

Dax was emotionally crippled by issues Willa had to tease from her slowly. She was not an easy woman to get to know or to love – but Willa saw something in her and was willing to persevere and try to make her whole again. Seeing her open up and change over the course of the book was wonderful. There was so much more to Dax than we thought at first and as the reader sticks with her, the rewards are immense.

The Writing Style

The pacing of the story is exceptionally well done. Bit by bit we find out why Dax is the way she is. It’s not hurried, and I did not want it to be. Finding out Dax’s backstory was done with care. The language was beautiful and several times I had to stop and re-read lines that took my breath away. The descriptions of the area were delightful and immersive.

The Pros

The story was intensely emotional, and I never once doubted the depth of their feelings. The love scenes were not just about sex. They were unbelievably touching and raw at times. And amongst the most erotic I’ve read. The author managed to delve into their souls and put it across on the page. Wonderfully done.

The Cons

There is discussion of past abuse, which some readers might find distressing.

The Conclusion

I wholeheartedly recommend buying this book. It touched me and made me really feel deep emotions for the characters. And the writing is top-notch. If you enjoy really immersing yourself in a book, and coming out changed, then this is the book for you.

Excerpt from Hart & Stocker by Max Ellendale

She meandered over, though the attitude evident in her swirling ears told me she was uneasy. “What’s her name?” I asked, watching as Dax stroked her nose. The horse stared at me, though I didn’t make a move to touch her yet. I took a moment to slow my breathing and relax my energy in her presence.

“Carol.” Dax ran her knuckles over the horse’s cheek.

The name brought me pause, and I smirked. “Unique.”

“Carol Danvers.”

And there, amidst the previously frozen face, Dax cracked a smile. “You named your horse after Captain Marvel?”

I laughed softly, and the horse turned her attention to me. “She named herself.”

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Hart & Stocker

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Note: I received a free review copy of Hart & Stocker by Max Ellendale. No money was exchanged for this review. When you use our links to buy we get a small commission which supports the running of this site

About the author

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I am a forty-something mum of three, with a passion for sharing the books I love. I have been reviewing for around five years now, and finding Lesfic changed my life. I live on the west coast of Scotland with my family and enjoy travel, visiting castles and historic sites and long walks in the beautiful Scottish countryside. I also enjoy writing and have had short stories and poetry published. I also love to study and take courses whenever I can. Lifelong learning is a passion and enriches my life.