From Ex to Eternity?
To inherit his family's empire, Texas cowboy-turned-CEO Stone McNair must prove he has a heart beneath his ruthlessly suave exterior. His trial? Finding homes for his grandmother's rescue dogs. His judge? Johanna Fletcher, the woman whose heart he broke.
Sure, Johanna can handle a week traveling the country with her ex-fiancé to fulfill his dying grandmother's request. She and Stone want different things -- plain and simple. But there's nothing plain about Stone, or simple about the heat that still flares between them. One week may not be long enough….
Very emotional book. It starts out as Stone and his cousins find out that their grandmother is dying. She hasn't made any decisions on who will run the family empire when she's gone, and has decided to test them to find out who is the best fit. She has assigned Stone to find homes for her four dogs, to show that he has a heart beneath his stony exterior. The catch? He has to take the vet, Johanna, along to supervise. She is also his ex-fiancée. They also suspect that Gran is attempting some matchmaking.
The attraction between Stone and Johanna is still very strong. Neither is very happy about being forced together for the next week to take care of the dogs, but they both love his grandmother. Each can admit to themselves that they still care, but their differences were just too much to deal with. It didn't help that neither one had actually shared their fears with the other.
Stone is used to keeping his feelings to himself. Because of his mother's addictions and the problems it caused him as a child, Stone has always felt like a bit of an outsider in his own family. He thought of himself as the one that nobody wanted. His breakup with Johanna had been painful, but he knows he can't be what she wants for her life. The idea of her being with someone else also hurts, leaving him torn over what to do.
Johanna had been in love with Stone for most of her life. Her father had worked on the ranch, so she was always around. She never really thought about their differences until they got engaged. Suddenly she found herself in situations where she felt really out of her depth, but she never shared those fears with him. And when he flat out refused to consider having children with her, she broke things off.
As they start their journey toward finding homes for the dogs, Stone and Johanna begin to face their unresolved past. The desire they felt before is still there, but both know they need more than that. Stone's fears for his grandmother have opened the door for him to share more of his feelings with Johanna. It is painful for him to expose himself that way, but it gets easier the more he does it. He has a big secret that he's never shared with anyone and he's afraid of what Johanna's reaction will be when he tells her. He doesn't know if she'll understand his reasons.
The more that Stone opened up to her, the deeper Johanna fell back in love with him. I loved the way that she could see past his stony exterior to the man he really was, but his revelations gave her even more insight into what has made him the way he is. Johanna found that she was more confident in her own abilities when Stone was with her, which gave her the courage to share her own fears with him.
I loved the ending as both Johanna and Stone finally saw the love that had been there all along, and the way that leaning on each other made them stronger. The plans they made for their future showed just how much they had learned about themselves and each other.
I really enjoyed the secondary theme of finding new homes for the dogs. I loved seeing the issue of what happens to the pets of older people when they can no longer care for them dealt with in such a wonderful way. I really loved how the author brought in characters from previous books as the new doggie parents.