RaeAnne Thayne did that with her book Evergreen Springs.
Evergreen Springs is the third book in Thayne's Haven Point series, but I didn't know that until I finished. This can totally be read as a standalone. For my first entry into the series, I smiled. I laughed. Some moments even made me go, "Awww!" If you believe in love and second chances, this book will definitely warm your heart.
Reformed town bad boy Cole Barrett is starting over. Cole, a former sex-crazed cowboy, is honing his skills as a horse trainer in the hopes that it will bring the family ranch back to prominence. Following the recent death of his ex-wife, Sharla, Cole is thrust into single parenthood. He's now raising his know-it-all, brooding, 8-year-old daughter, Jazmyn, and 6-year-old son, Ty. Sharla moved the kids around a lot and rarely let Cole see them. How does Cole reassure two grieving children that he's not going anywhere? How does he let them know that they're safe? If Cole tells Jazmyn to sit down, she stands up. He goes left, she goes right. One moment Jazmyn wants one thing and the next she wants another. Sounds like typical child behavior. But for Jazmyn she just can't let her father win. She can't trust him just yet. But Ty is just the opposite. He's the sweetest, most agreeable child a parent could want. Cole's estranged father, Stanford, is back in the picture. But a father-son reunion is just not in the cards right now. Cole has his hands full.
To make matters worse, Cole's pregnant sister, Tricia, has come to town. She's expecting twins and fleeing from a husband whom she's says doesn't want children. The stress lands Tricia in the hospital, where she will stay until it's time to deliver her children. To top it off, Christmas is just a few weeks away. Can Cole give his children the Christmas experience their childhood has been sorely lacking?
With all of that on his plate, Cole certainly doesn't have time for love. Right? Wrong? Love finds him when he's not even looking for it.
As fate would have it, the beautiful Dr. Devin Shaw is on call when Tricia is admitted to the hospital. Tricia and Devin are old friends, and as one of the town's most-respected doctors she is compelled to help not just her patient but her patient's family. Tricia lets Devin know all about Cole's struggles as a single parent. Of course Devin lends a helping hand. Several in the town rally around Cole and his children, cooking up meals that can last for weeks. Devin chips in with babysitting. Cole can't understand it. Why is the town helping him? Why is Devin helping him? Does she have an ulterior motive? Nope. These are just two lonely people who belong together, only they don't know it.
Devin brings out the best in Cole and his children. She knows when to be patient. She knows when to push. But she doesn't know how to guard her heart. She doesn't know how not to fall in love with this family. If Devin and Cole can just learn how to let the other in, everything will fall into place.
This wasn't an insta-love connection. It was slow and steady, which I loved. I hate it when characters are immediately attracted to each other. Books like that are just not believable. I believed in these characters. I rooted for these characters. I'm sure other readers will too!
Note: I received a copy of the book from Little Bird Publicity in exchange for an honest review.