Oldest son Ward Knowles feels the sprawling California ranch in his blood. And now that the family business has expanded to include a popular resort, he’s working harder than ever. Silver Creek is his legacy and his life, which is fine for the ruggedly sexy ladies’ man and committed bachelor. Love and trust don’t come easily for Ward since he lost his heart to a gold digger—until he meets a shy, unpretentious beauty whose sweet grace is about to turn his jaded heart into a hungry one.
Tess Casari has found sanctuary at Silver Creek, working as an assistant to Ward’s mother, Adele. Grateful for her busy new life running the ranch’s spa and resort, Tess can escape the heartbreak, humiliation, and secret shame of her failed marriage. The last thing she needs is temptation—especially from a man who reminds her so much of the husband who shattered her faith in love. But passion and destiny are about to change the rules for two people who have stopped believing in the healing power of love.
From how Laura Moore sets the scene for the Silver Creek Ranch, this is definitely a place I would love to visit. Just the description of the Valentine’s Day events at the start of Chapter 3 made me want to up stakes and travel there. It also made me hungry.
Tess is wanting to make a break from her past. It isn’t a deep, dark mysterious past – however it is one filled with more than a touch of struggle and pain. Her wealthy estranged husband treated her badly, and yet she stood by him as he died from a brain tumour. We find out that his father offered her one million dollars to do this. Tess reluctantly did this, but it wasn’t for her gain – it was to make sure that her severely autistic brother was well cared for. I like that she was willing to admit that she did this, but didn’t feel the need to broadcast it to make herself look better. She just wants to escape New York and start somewhere afresh.
Tess ends up in Acacia, California courtesy of a pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey style decision by her friend and a very dodgy automobile. Completely separate from the romance of this book, I loved the scene where Tess is trying to get said car started – this has so happened to me. It is courtesy of her less-than-roadworthy car that she first comes into contact with the Knowles family, and in particular eldest son, Ward. Ward has dedicated his life to ensuring that Silver Creek is as good as it is. He’s been burnt in a big way by a gold-digging ex-fiancée, and in no way is looking for a Mrs Ward.
I liked that Tess was open and honest with Adele (Ward’s mum) about how she ended up in Acacia rather than making up some reason. The story just didn’t call for that kind of mystery.
The slow burn of Tess and Ward’s relationship was great. Two reluctant people thrown together by circumstance, they are at first very reactive to each other – lots of sniping at each other, and genuinely so. They’re not just having a go at each other to cover up feelings. Their attraction is acknowledged, but there’s no instalove – which is great. However once that fuse burnt to the end and they get together, it’s on. Straight from no-kisses to boots-on sexy time – no time-wasting there.
From fairly early on, it was easy to spot what the dark moment was going to be. Tess took money from her in-laws, Ward hates gold-diggers. He was a little quick to judge in my opinion, but when you meet his ex, Erica, you understand why. She was a dead set piece of work – I just wanted to slap her.
Things do get resolved fairly quickly between Tess and Ward and their HEA is equally speedy. Again, this isn’t the kind of book with a deep, dark moment of drama that requires epic grovelling.
If I have one issue with this book, it is that for a big patch of the book, there seems to be more than a fair amount of focus on the planning of Brian & Carrie’s wedding and not as much emphasis on the development of Tess and Ward’s relationship as I would have liked.
However, the supporting characters are wonderful and colourful, and add a lot to the story. I love the mad Australian pastry chef, Roo, and particularly that she is from the Northern Territory. I am really looking forward to seeing where the next story in the Silver Creek series will take us.
My rating: 3.5 out of 5
Release Date: 26 March 2013
Note: I was provided with an advanced reader copy of this book by Ballantine Books, an imprint of Random House via NetGalley in return for an honest review.