Series: Cowboys of the Rio Grande (Book 2)
After a tour in Afghanistan and years as a trauma surgeon, Alonso Marquez needs to get out of Albuquerque and away from his past. A trip seems like the perfect solution, but he doesn't make it far. Sparks fly when Alonso stops to help a gorgeous rancher fix her car, and just like that his road trip is cut short by one very hot night…with some very real consequences.
Hannah Buck didn't plan on starting a family that night. Her hands are already full managing the ranch and helping her troubled half brother. But Hannah sees the good in Alonso and knows he will be an incredible dad to their baby -- if only he could see it, too. Alonso has spent his life saving others. Now, with Hannah at his side, can he finally save himself?
Very good book. Hannah is a young woman who is running the family bison ranch after the death of her father. She also has custody of her sixteen year old half brother. Luke hasn't dealt well with his father's death and has been running wild, getting into trouble. She's at her wit's end, trying to keep up with the ranch and ride herd on her brother. She's on her way home from picking Luke up at the jail when she nearly runs over a hitchhiker.
Alonso is a trauma surgeon from Albuquerque. After time as an army doctor, and now working in a big city hospital, he is feeling burned out. He is tired of fixing people up just to have them go back to doing what got them hurt in the first place. He has taken a leave of absence from the hospital and is hitchhiking aimlessly around the state, trying to get himself back together. His journey is interrupted when he stops to help Hannah change her tire and is invited to stay for dinner.
I really liked Hannah. She has had a lot of responsibility dumped on her from the time she was young. She's the one who has practically raised her brother and is frustrated by the problems she is having with him. She is also trying to bring the ranch back from the brink of disaster, after her father ran it into the ground. When she meets Alonso she is attracted to him, but she is also wary. She's been hurt once, and doesn't want to risk it again. But she's also been lonely, and is seriously thinking about giving in to the attraction just once.
I ached for Alonso. From his early life trying to stay out of the gangs in his neighborhood, to the losses he has experienced as a doctor, he has a very pessimistic view of life. He has avoided any kind of relationships, always expecting that they will end and preferring to protect himself from more losses. His attraction to Hannah is unexpected, as is his reluctance to leave as planned. I loved the way that he saw so much of himself in Hannah's brother Luke, and helped Hannah find a place for him with the people who had helped him. I also loved how Alonso decided to stay at the ranch and help Hannah while Luke was away.
The relationship between Alonso and Hannah grew pretty slowly. The physical side happened fast and burned hot, but trusting their feelings took awhile. Hannah doesn't want to fall for a man who is leaving, but his actions find their way past her walls. When she becomes pregnant she worries about how she'll manage, but refuses to doing anything to make Alonso feel like he has to stay. She sees that he has the ability to be a terrific father, but until he can believe she has to let him go. Alonso is surprised by the peace he starts to feel the longer he stays with Hannah. The constant stress of watching his work go for nothing is gone, but other fears are still with him. When he learns about her pregnancy, those fears make him want to run, but he also finds any number of reasons not to leave quite yet. I loved the unexpected opportunity that showed him the life that he could have away from the city, and the event that opened his eyes to what he would be leaving behind. Accepting Hannah's confidence in him helped him overcome those fears and believe that they could have that future together.
I also enjoyed the scenes on the ranch, as Luke got the guidance and discipline that he needed. The change in him was wonderful. Alonso's reunion with Cruz (A Cowboy's Redemption) was great, as was catching up with how things are going for Cruz and Sara. There was also a brief scene with their third friend, Vic, that was a nice lead in to his book. The mystery of who was doing the vandalism on Hannah's property was solved in a rather surprising way, as the culprit was not who I expected it to be.