Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Cowboy SEAL - Laura Marie Altom (HAR #1517 - Oct 2014)

Series: Operation Family (Book 7)

The Road To Redemption

Navy SEAL Cooper Hansen hasn't been home in more than a decade. He has never forgiven himself for the accident that killed his mother, and as far as he knows, neither has his family. But when his brother's widow, Millie, needs his help to save the Hansen ranch, Cooper can't stay away any longer.

Millie has always loved Cooper in some way -- as a childhood friend, a high-school crush and then as a brother-in-law. Now that he's back in Brewer's Falls, she's discovering new, unexpected feelings for him. But if Cooper keeps holding on to the pain of the past, will he ever give their future together a fighting chance?

This was an emotion packed story. It's been twelve years since Cooper was home, ever since the night that his mother died. It was a tragic accident, one that his father blamed him for but no more than Cooper blamed himself.  Returning from his latest mission, Cooper has gotten word that his father has had a stroke and the ranch is in trouble, so he takes leave and goes home to help.

Millie has been trying to hold things together on the ranch for a long time, ever since her husband's death. Her father-in-law's stroke has added another layer of stress to it all. When Cooper arrives she has mixed feelings. She's relieved that there will be someone to share the burden, but her old crush on him has returned with a vengeance.

The relationship that develops between Cooper and Millie is very complicated. Cooper is attracted to her, but the idea of having the hots for his brother's widow makes him feel guilty. He also feels unworthy of having anything good happen to him. Millie also feels guilty, not just for the way she feels about Cooper but also that she's still angry at Jim for the stupid stunt that got him killed. Their feelings are getting stronger, but both are trying to resist and neither is sharing what they're truly feeling.

Cooper also has to deal with his return home and trying to mend his relationship with his father. The fireworks between the two of them are incredible. Clint is dealing with the effects of his stroke which makes him irritable to start with. He has hung on to his anger about the accident all these years and accepting Cooper's help is a bitter pill to swallow. Cooper has been incredibly homesick, but obeyed his father's orders to never return. The battles they have when Cooper first returns are epic, but a late night confrontation finally gives them a chance at reconciliation. I enjoyed seeing how their relationship changed.

I also loved seeing Cooper get to know his niece and nephew. He is so clueless when it comes to kids, but he really wants to get to know them. His nephew is adorable and takes to Cooper right away, but his twelve year old niece is a hard nut to crack. Her behavior is pretty typical for the age, but there were times I really wanted to smack her. Poor Cooper had some pretty rough experiences with her, and one of them really gets him in hot water.

Overall I really enjoyed seeing how putting the past to rest was such a vital part of changing their lives for the better.

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