BACK IN THE SADDLE
Gage Remington needs a place to start over, and Durango, Colorado, is it. By reconciling with his rancher grandfather, Gage hopes he can begin repairing past damage. It doesn't occur to Gage that his heart needs fixing, too, until he meets gorgeous doctor Cori Parker. And he's sure his troubled past will send the single mom running.
Since her husband's tragic accident, Cori's been focusing on her family. Though she's deeply attracted to the banker-turned-buckaroo, Gage is a wild card, and Cori can't let anyone bring her life crashing down again. Still, she realizes Gage's finally ready to be the man -- and the cowboy -- he always wanted to be. But will Cori be part of his future, or one more regret from his past?
Good book about two people with some serious issues who find out that troubles are easier to deal with when they are shared. Cori left her high stress, busy job in a Manhattan ER, when she realized that she wasn't spending enough time with her daughter. She had also started questioning her abilities when she nearly missed a diagnosis because of her extreme fatigue. She has moved herself and her daughter out West, to be with her grandmother and make some decisions about her future.
Gage has taken a leave of absence from his high-powered Wall Street job. He realized that his drinking and workaholic ways destroyed his marriage and his relationships with his family, including his grandfather. He's decided to start his fence mending with his grandfather, where he has some great memories but who he has treated badly in the last ten years. But his grandfather is a far cry from the loving man he remembers, and has turned into a grumpy old man. It seems that Gage can't do anything right where the old man is concerned.
Both Gage and Cori end up accompanying their grandparent to a Zane Grey convention in Durango. They encounter each other when they are trying to get some space, and sparks fly immediately. There's a desire to get to know each other a little better, until they discover that their grandparents can't stand each other, This makes spending time together difficult. Then some other issues crop up that have them reconsidering.
I liked Gage, but there were times that he didn't make it easy. I liked the way he was determined to make up for his past neglect, but at least at the beginning he was going about it all wrong. He had spent so long at the top of the corporate world that he was trying to use those methods on his grandfather. Gage had never met a problem that couldn't be solved by throwing money at it, but his grandfather didn't want that. Buck wanted Gage to remember the cowboy values that he had been taught. Every time Gage thought he was making some progress he'd do something to screw it up. Gage was also dealing with the knowledge that he was an alcoholic, and trying to get used to life without drinking. I had a lot of respect for his determination to succeed. Being around Cori and her daughter made him experience feelings that had been numb for many years and he's not sure he likes it.
I got a bit frustrated with Cori also. She had lost confidence in herself and was looking for a new life with her grandmother. She had burned out on her job, thanks to the long hours and stress. She had also lost her husband to a drunk driver and is trying to raise her daughter on her own. She was attracted to Gage as soon as she met him, but when she discovered he was a recovering alcoholic she tried to step back from him. She didn't want to risk her heart on someone who could easily slip back into his old ways. So she would push him away, but then she would be drawn back to him by his charm and wit and the way he was so good with her daughter.
I liked seeing the way that Cori and Gage brought out the best in each other. Cori was very good at seeing past Gage's surface and showing him that he was still capable of being the kind of man that his grandfather needed him to be. Gage made a point of showing Cori that it was possible for her to relax and have a good time. Both of them had to learn to trust, not just each other, but also themselves. It was fun to see them try to find ways to be together once they had made the decision to see where their attraction might take them. The ending was funny and sweet, and the epilogue was an excellent peek at their future.
The secondary characters were great. I really liked Cori's daughter Hailey. She was a sweetheart and had a great way of cutting through the complications her mom would come up with to get to the heart of the matter. I liked the way she took to Gage and showed him a different side of himself. But it was the two grandparents who nearly stole the show. Both are pretty blunt in their sunset years and have no trouble telling their grandkids when they don't like something that's being done. They were creating some pretty significant sparks of their own and I was wondering when something was going to go up in smoke. There was a really interesting little twist when Gage's grandfather fell and broke his hip. I loved the scene in his hospital room.