A sexy hometown hero returns to rescue the one who got away
Ten years ago, bad boy Nick Anderson left home -- and a brokenhearted Shelby Stillwater in his wake. Now the retired navy SEAL has inherited the family ranch Shelby calls home. Almost in foreclosure, the property is being sabotaged to force a sale…and Shelby is in mortal danger.
As Nick and Shelby work together to stop the vandals, old passions and new threats arise. The ranch carries painful memories, and Nick's not sure if he's willing to work to save the land. But as he finds new purpose and a new home, he remains determined to keep Shelby from harm…even if it means risking everything he holds dear in the process.
Good second chance story with a romance complicated by past hurts and present danger. Nick has returned to the family ranch just in time to attend his father's funeral. He had left ten years earlier, tired of trying to earn his father's approval and become a decorated SEAL. Injured in the same attack that killed two friends, Nick is haunted by the feeling he should have been able to save them. Now he has inherited a failing ranch and beyond-the-grave instructions to keep the ranch in the family. He didn't expect to find Shelby still living and working at the ranch.
The ranch is the only home Shelby has really known, and Nick's father more caring than her own parents. Shelby worked hard to overcome her parents' reputations and is the bookkeeper for the ranch. Even she doesn't know the extent of the trouble the ranch is in until after the funeral. Nick's arrival reminds her of her girlhood crush on him and how it broke her heart when he left.
I enjoyed the rekindling of the feelings between Nick and Shelby. Nick felt a bit guilty for the way he had left years ago but believed it had been the right thing to do. He is still just as attracted to her, and is determined to pursue that attraction. But he also believes that he is too broken for anything permanent. Shelby is just as determined to resist the attraction. Nick broke her heart once, and she refuses to take a chance on it happening again. I liked her strength of will as she let him know that she wants more than he seems willing to give. As they work together to solve the mystery of who is behind the ranch's troubles they slowly begin to share their fears. I really liked how Shelby saw the insecurity beneath Nick's cocky attitude and was determined to show him the man she sees. The scene at the pond was just the kind of reminder he needed. I also liked how Nick saw that Shelby put everyone else's needs before her own and tried to make her see that it was okay to think of herself sometimes. I ached for them both as they fought their feelings, allowing their fears to keep them apart. Even once they give in to the attraction, the strength of the connection increases their fears of being hurt. It isn't until he nearly loses Shelby that Nick realizes how much he needs her. I liked his big moment at the end, which had an interesting twist for him as well as a surprise for Shelby.
The suspense of the story was good. Besides the vandalism going on at the ranch, Shelby also experiences personal attacks that seem intent on driving her away from Belle Creek. Nick's arrival and the information revealed at the reading of the will show that things are even worse than expected. The vandalism seems to be intended to motivate the sale of the ranch, and Nick's refusal to do so causes an escalation in the threats. There are several possible suspects, all of whom have reasons to push for the sale. The danger intensifies when a fire nearly becomes deadly. I ached for Nick and Shelby as every time they seemed to be on the path to saving the ranch, something else would happen to stop it. The final confrontation was intense as an unexpected twist put Shelby's life in danger. I loved the ending as the bad guys got what was coming to them and Nick found a way to save the ranch.