Contemporary Romance published November 11, 2014
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Synopsis from Goodreads:
From the USA TODAY bestselling author of Sweet Thing and Nowhere But Here comes a deeply emotional contemporary romance about the second chances waiting beyond the shattered dreams of youth.
Under the bright arena lights of a rodeo show, young Avelina Belo falls for a handsome cowboy with a larger-than-life personality. After a whirlwind courtship, she happily moves away from her family in northern California and settles into married life with her cowboy on a seven-thousand-acre cattle ranch in Montana. One freak accident later, Avelina’s hopes for the future come to an end.
Nate Myers graduated from UCLA medical school at the top of his class, ready to follow in the footsteps of his father, a superstar cardiothoracic surgeon. Six years later, Nate’s career is being ruined by a malpractice suit. Questioning himself for the first time, he retreats to a Montana cattle ranch to visit his uncle and gain perspective. There, he meets a beautiful young woman named Avelina who teaches him more than he ever knew about matters of the heart.
Oh my goodness, I loved this book so much! I think it was my favorite Renee Carlino book and Nate was definitely my favorite of all her characters. There were times that I was upset and wanted to put it down, there were times that I teared up, but I ended up reading most of it in one sitting. That is one thing about these books that Renee Carlino writes, once I start reading I generally don't stop until I get to the end of the book.
This is a story about loss and learning to let go and love again. Avelina is only 17 year old when she meets Jake, she marries him after 3 months, and a year and a half later she is a widow. Nate is a young heart surgeon who loses a young patient and is facing a lawsuit. He takes some time off and heads to where is uncle lives on a ranch in Montana. He meets Avelina and his life will never be the same. She's been withdrawn and blaming herself for the last 5 years. She lives and works on the ranch still, but her life is empty and has no meaning anymore. They slowly start to get to know each other and he is able to bring Ava out of the dark place she's been hiding for the last 5 years. Things aren't easy for them, but Nate is determined to make it work. He sees what they could have and he's not going to let her get away easily once he's had a taste.
I loved the character development in this story, there is a fair amount of the book that passes before we get to the place where they meet finally. This is necessary, though and it didn't bother me. They each have something dark they are dealing with and we have to know this in order to understand them fully. There were times that I was frustrated with Ava, but I think that Nate was very mature in the way he handled her and the situation she was in. I liked that he was always honest with her even when he knew that being honest may lead to her leaving.
I didn't care so much for one section toward the end of the book, I realize why it needed to be done, in theory. It made me ache for Nate, but I loved seeing how he dealt with it and that made me love him even more. I also didn't care much for the epilogue chapter, it was a little out of the blue, unlike the one in Sweet Thing. I would much rather have seen that play out just like the rest of the story instead of getting that outside view.
Overall, I loved it. It was heart breaking and hopeful all at the same times. A little like getting your heart ripped out and put back together all in the space of a few hours. It is a romance so there are some steamy love scenes, but they are all tastefully done and not at all crass or vulgar. I highly recommend it to all you romance lovers out there.
*Disclaimer: I was provided with a copy of this book courtesy of the publisher in exchange for my honest review.*