Saturday, November 22, 2014

Wearing the Rancher's Ring - Stella Bagwell (HSE #2354 - Sept 2014)

Series: Men of the West (Book 30)

If it weren't for the ring…

…rancher Clancy Calhoun and Olivia Parsons might be able to pull off their cool acquaintances routine. They might be able to convince the world that they just knew each other in passing, enough to say hello and be on their way. Or at least they might be able to convince themselves.

But all those years ago, they had been the whole world to each other -- and he'd given her a diamond ring to prove it. Now, ten years later, Olivia is back at the Silver Horn, and she and Clancy are sure they can be in each other's company without falling apart -- or worse yet, falling into each other's arms.

Because if the ring goes back on her finger, this time it's never coming off!

This was a roller-coaster ride of a second chance story. Clancy and Olivia had been in love and engaged ten years earlier. When her mother became ill, Olivia broke off their engagement and went home to Idaho, telling Clancy to forget about her. Now she's in Carson City, working for the BLM, and runs into Clancy shortly after her arrival. Both of them are stunned to see the other and though both feel the pull of old feelings, each gives the impression of being unaffected. Under the surface, emotions are rioting.

Olivia really wants to believe she's over her feelings for Clancy, but can't deny that they are still there. She agrees to get together with him so she can try to put them to rest. Being with him reignites the dreams she had of a life with him but she's cautious about opening up her heart again, Clancy can't believe he still wants her, but he's going to try spending time with her to see how things go. His heart wants to believe anything is possible, but his head is urging caution.

I loved seeing Clancy and Olivia together, trying to get to know each other as the people they are now. They have strong chemistry together and their physical relationship takes off very quickly. But both of them hold back emotionally, not quite ready to give it their all. Olivia has some trust issues with men. Her father had abandoned the family when she was young, she had had a brief marriage where her husband had portrayed himself very differently than the way he really was, and though she had broken things off with Clancy she had always hoped he had cared enough to come after her, though he never did. Olivia also has some self esteem issues, causing her to believe that she's not good enough for the wealthy rancher and his family. On his side, Clancy is happy to be with Olivia again, but he can't forget that she had left him all those years ago. As much as his feelings for her are getting stronger, he won't allow himself to trust that she'll stay and that keeps him from believing that they have a future together. When they allow themselves to ignore their issues, they are wonderful together. I loved seeing them check out the new land purchase, and their attendance at the family dinner went great.

I admit to some frustration with Olivia and the way she keeps harping on their differences. No one in the family had ever treated her in a way that should have made her feel like that. Because of her background, she had learned to depend on herself, and her pride keeps her from accepting any kind of help. Clancy frustrated me even more. He was coming to care for her even more deeply than before, though he wouldn't admit it to himself. He just wouldn't let go of the fact that she had left him before and it kept him from allowing himself to believe in a future with her.

When Olivia gets pregnant things get even more complicated. Clancy wants her to marry him, but says nothing about how he feels about her, just what he feels is important for the baby. Olivia refuses to think about marrying him just because of the baby, she wants his love too. Neither of them will take the step of confessing their feelings and letting go of their fears. It took some time apart for each of them to realize it was only their fears keeping them apart and that being together was more important. I was very happy to see them finally open up to each other and let go of the past.

Once again it was great to see the closeness of the Calhoun family and the support they give each other. Both Bart and Orin have some eye opening advice for Clancy, and I love how Rafe has become such a great example of married bliss. I'm looking forward to reading about the other brothers.

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