Second Chance Colton (The Coltons of Oklahoma) - Marie Ferrarella

Series: Coltons of Oklahoma (Book 5)

When murder strikes his family's ranch, Detective Ryan Colton follows the evidence…straight to his sister. Instinct tells him she's innocent. But once her DNA is found at the scene, Ryan goes head-to-head with the forensics expert he'd hoped to avoid. Susie Howard -- the beautiful woman he once loved…and left.

 

Seeing Ryan again has Susie doubting everything, especially her resolution to forget the sexy, rugged cowboy cop. If her intuition is wrong, then the real killer is still at large and has the Coltons in his sights. Teaming up with Ryan is the only way for him to save his family -- and his second chance with her.

 

Excellent book that continues the investigation into who attacked the Colton matriarch, while at the same time giving Ryan his chance to find love. The latest batch of troubles at the ranch have the evidence pointing to Ryan's sister, Greta. Ryan is convinced the evidence has to be wrong, and confronts the CSI expert doing the tests, Susie Howard. But there's more going on with Susie than just the tests - she's also the woman he had left behind ten years earlier.

 

They've both been working for the Tulsa PD for the last four years, but have mostly managed to avoid each other. Ten years earlier, when Ryan was still in the Marines, he broke off his relationship with her when he left on deployment. He told himself it was for her own good, so that she wasn't putting her life on hold for him. He has never found anyone else that made him feel the way she did. Susie had been devastated by the cold breakup letter that she received from him. She had been deeply in love with him and ready to wait for however long it took for him to come home. Since then she has been wary of trusting anyone else with her heart. Now, whenever they meet, both are careful to keep all interactions short and to the point.

 

I liked the way they joined forces to get at the truth about Greta's involvement. Susie knows that she could, possibly even should, turn work on this case over to another. But in spite of the way things ended for them, she still has feelings for Ryan and can see the way that this case is tearing him up. She is a voice of reason during the turmoil of seeing the evidence, and also a pillar of support. Ryan can't believe that Greta is involved, but the evidence is overwhelming. Having to bring her in for questioning and hold her like a criminal hurts him terribly. It also puts him at odds with his brothers, something that has been happening more often as the troubles on the ranch continue. I liked seeing how Susie's help keeps him grounded, and also gives him another viewpoint.

 

As they spend more time together, Ryan has to admit to himself that he had been an idiot to push Susie away all those years ago. The attraction is still there and growing stronger every day, but he's not so sure he deserves a second chance. Both Ryan and Susie look at their past actions and have to decide if they want to move forward together. A surprise revelation adds to Ryan's turmoil, but also makes him realize what he's wanted all along. I loved his stop on his way to visit Susie, and how it helps her see that he has changed. Their final scene was romantic and emotional, and ended with just a bit of humor.

 

The progression of the mystery of who is behind the attacks has been very good from the beginning. From the attack on Abra to the murder of the ranch hand, it has had a very personal feel to it. From the little hints that were dropped in previous books, I had a suspicion about who was behind it. But the story behind the identity was a twist I didn't expect, and I am looking forward to the next book to see how it all ends.