Series: Westmorelands (Book 30)
Rule number one for Bailey Westmoreland: Never fall for a man who would take her away from her tight-knit family's Colorado home. So why is she following rancher Walker Rafferty all the way to Alaska? Bailey tells herself she owes the sexy loner an apology, and once she gets there, it's only right to stay and help him when he's injured…isn't it? Before long, Bailey realizes home might be where you make it -- if Walker is ready to take all she has to offer.
Very good book. Bailey is the youngest of the Denver Westmorelands and deeply attached to her family, to the point where she refuses to consider falling for a man who would take her away from them. That resolve is tested when she meets Walker Rafferty.
In previous Westmoreland books, the family discovered that their grandfather had another brother. As family is so important to them, they have been searching for that brother and his family. They discovered that he had been adopted by a family named Outlaw who run a successful business in Alaska. When the book opens, the Outlaw patriarch has informed his five sons that he wants nothing to do with the Westmoreland's claims. Those sons, however, are not so quick to dismiss the obvious connection and ask their friend Walker to meet with the Westmorelands and see what he thinks.
The first meeting between Bailey and Walker has the sparks flying right away. Bailey is not pleased that some stranger is coming to essentially spy on them and makes her displeasure known. As the youngest in the family, she and her three youngest cousins had been considered hellions when they were younger. She still tends to be blunt in her opinions and Walker rubs her the wrong way. There is also an undeniable attraction between the two of them, demonstrated by a hot kiss that nearly gets out of hand. Bailey is upfront about her rules with men, and that one like Walker, who is tied to his own property in Alaska, would never fit in with her plans.
Both Bailey and Walker have things in their pasts that drive their attitudes toward those of the opposite sex. Bailey has seen many relationships come and go, many in heartbreaking ways, but family is always there for you. She has sworn that no man will tempt her away from her home. Walker was betrayed in the worst way by the woman that he changed his life for, and lost that which was most important to him. Now he is content with his solitary life on his ranch, with a few close friends, and no intention of allowing another woman that kind of power over him.
As the youngest in the family, Bailey is a bit spoiled. She also tends to be outspoken and judgmental. Her attraction to Walker has her somewhat discombobulated, and she finds herself being less than polite to him. One encounter leads to a misunderstanding that angers them both, though Bailey freely admits it when she finds she's wrong and apologizes. A second argument occurs when Bailey makes a request of him that shows that she really doesn't understand him or his motivations. This time he leaves Colorado before she can apologize, and she feels the only thing she can do is follow him to Alaska and make amends.
Walker is not happy when Bailey shows up uninvited at his ranch. He can't get rid of her immediately because of an incoming storm, so he is stuck with her for a few days. The tension continues to build between them, though both are determined to resist. Forced together by circumstances, they begin to get to know each other a bit, but Bailey will be leaving as soon as the storm passes. Then a ranch emergency has them rushing off to rescue a ranch hand. This event is intense and Bailey plays a huge and unexpected part in it. Walker is injured and Bailey is determined to take care of him, keeping her in Alaska for awhile longer.
I loved seeing Bailey fall under the spell of both Alaska and Walker. Though her rough edges are still there (I loved the descriptions of what happens when she loses her temper), there's a bit of maturing that goes on. Walker also begins to realize that though he enjoys his solitude, there is also some loneliness that he doesn't want to admit to. I loved seeing his friend Garth Outlaw calling Walker out on his refusal to own up to his feelings. When Bailey overhears something that makes her feel that Walker's feelings don't match her own, she runs for home, leaving Walker to decide if he cares enough to go after her. I loved seeing his big moment and how he went about making it happen.
There are several things I am looking forward to in future books. First is the last of the Denver Westmorelands, Bane, comes home. It is time for him to go after the woman he loves and has been apart from for years. There have been bits of their story mentioned in previous books, but this one ends with a surprising revelation that should make Bane's story even more interesting.
There is also the new branch on the Westmoreland family tree, The six Outlaw/Westmorelands are puzzled by their father's refusal to admit the connection between the two families. There seems to be some mystery behind it, and they are determined to find out what it is. I loved the little bits we learned about the new family members and I'm really looking forward to finding out more.