Shelter Me by Catherine Mann (Second Chance Ranch #1)

20645291Available: Now Amazon/B&N

Type: Contemporary Romance

Publisher: Berkley

My Copy: Sent

Reviewer: Pam

Nestled in the sunny fields of Tennessee lies the McDaniel family’s Second Chance Ranch Animal Rescue. Two new arrivals are on their way, but only one is the four-legged kind. Staff Sergeant Mike Kowalski wants only one thing after he gets home from Iraq: to sleep in a king-sized bed with clean sheets. But first, he has to hand off his fallen commander’s dog, Trooper, to his family without handing off his heart to Sierra…

Sierra McDaniel needs a break. Her family life is crazy, and when she’s not mucking out kennels, she’s slogging through grad school. Sierra certainly doesn’t want another dog, especially one that reminds her of her father. And she definitely doesn’t want to see Mike with that charming smile of his… But Trooper has a mission of his own. Before too long Mike is moving to the ranch to lend a hand—and hoping for his own second chance with Sierra. Shelter Me is a great start to a new series that takes us on an emotional ride as we are introduced to Trooper, a dog that lived on a military base in Iraq and is now coming to the U.S. to live with Colonel McDaniel’s family and help them heal.

Sierra McDaniel helps her mom run the Second Chance Ranch Animal Rescue in Tennessee. She thought she would be on her own by now, going to college to get her graduate degree, but she is needed at home and studies at the local college. Her father recently died in Iraq which has caused heartache for the family.

Staff Sergeant Mike Kowalski is on his way to the only place he has called home and he is bringing Trooper. Mike was there when Sierra’s father was killed and he knew that the Colonel wanted Trooper with his family if anything ever happened to him. Mike and Sierra have history together; they were in a relationship that lasted until Mike left for his most recent deployment, he is the one that broke it off because he knew that Sierra did not want the military life. Coming back to the McDaniel family is hard, his plans are to drop Trooper off and head toward his next assignment, unfortunately the family seems to need him and Trooper has his own ideas.

A nice start to this series, I was not sure I would enjoy the POV of Trooper, I started the book and then put it down to read another, but I kept thinking about it so I picked it up again and thoroughly enjoyed it. Trooper’s voice is not overwhelming and I like his thoughts at the beginning of each chapter.

There is so much emotion going on in this book, not only is Sierra and Mike trying to piece together a friendship from a broken romance (and then back to a romance) but Sierra’s mom Lacey has a lot to deal with. Her grief from her husband’s death, her depressed son, Nathan, her father-in-law’s Alzheimer’s and the neighbors who do not want the animal shelter near their homes. It is no wonder she can’t sleep at night and enjoys a glass or two of wine. I like Lacey she is strong and knows she is on the edge but she is still there for her family and the animals. Many times this story seems to be more about the family with the romance of Sierra and Mike (which does steam up many scenes) on the side; it works because everyone plays pivotal roles.

Other secondary characters are engaging and round out the story well, Nathan is your typical surly teenager only with the added burden of depression about his father and Sierra’s grandfather is a proud but confused man that tries to help. I like Ray, the Veterinarian who helps Lacey with the animals and has feelings for her, and Mary who is Sierra’s friend; she will be featured in the next book. Of course Trooper is cute and fun with quite the sense of humor that helps lighten things up and I chuckled at many of his quotes.

The pace of the story is perfect as we watch Sierra’s and Mike’s relationship grow from a tentative friendship to lust to love, and we watch a family go through several crisis’. There is added drama with the neighbor’s continued fight against the shelter but I enjoyed how people came to help. Overall, this is an emotional story that finds a family adjusting after their father’s death and how they move successfully forward after many tears. I will definitely be picking up the next book.

I give Shelter Me by Catherine Mann 4 stars!

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