In the next Cutter's Code romance, a hero with a secret returns home…and goes into rescuer mode…
AWOL in times of family tragedy, Walker Cole doesn't expect a warm welcome home. Nor does he expect to see Amy Clark -- his sister's nerdy friend who had a mad teen crush on him -- now a smart, sexy woman.
Though Walker knows he's caused Amy pain and hatred, his own pain is worse. He can never tell the truth about his hellish years away. But when Amy's paralegal work endangers her, Walker jumps at the chance to guard her irresistible body and prove himself worthy of trust and forgiveness. Even Cutter, the Foxworth dog with a nose for trouble, has his back when trouble explodes!
"Well, hello again, Cutter."
He gave a short yip, and she bent to pet him. The moment she stroked his dark head she felt an odd sensation of relief, as if suddenly she knew it would all work out, it would all be all right. All the fears seemed to not vanish but at least recede.
In that instant, the welcoming dance stopped. The dog leaned into her, staring up into her face. Something in the intense gaze, or in those gold-flecked dark eyes, was mesmerizing, and she couldn't seem to look away.
And then he moved. He turned, sat down at Amy's feet and looked up at Hayley. And Hayley, oddly, stopped mid-motion as she was putting her own purse in the car. Her eyes flicked from the dog to Amy.
"Uh-oh," Hayley said.
"Are you all right?"
Amy hadn't expected that. At least, not so soon. "Fine," she said. And health-wise, it was true. Otherwise, not so much. But she needed to work up to discussing that. "I may need your help loading this up, though," she said, gesturing at the large blue suitcase.
"Hmm." Hayley sounded doubtful, but she seemed to accept the answer. She looked back at the dog. "I got it, boy. I promise."
Cutter gave a low, soft whuff and a movement of his head that looked startlingly like a nod.
You want to tell me what's really wrong?" Hayley finally asked when they were parked in line for the big ferry that would take them across the sound. "Because Cutter says something is."
Amy blinked. "What?"
"He knows you have a problem. And," Hayley added in a dry tone, "he expects action."
"What are you talking about?"
"That look he gave me, after you petted him. That's his 'fix it' look."
Amy remembered the moment when the dog had sat at her feet and looked at Hayley. Was it possible the dog had sensed her turmoil? From what her friend had told her, the dog was incredibly empathetic.
I love this series and I adore this dog. In this one, Amy has come to Seattle to see her best friend and talk to her about a problem she has at work, one she isn't sure how to deal with. She knows that talking to Hayley will help her see how to proceed. Though she knows that Hayley's dog Cutter is something special, she's never understood just how special before this. Cutter seems to sense her turmoil, and just petting him makes her feel better. But it's his apparent insistence that his "people" at Foxworth can help her that really has her floored. Just as she's about to unburden herself to them, an unexpected visitor throws them all into turmoil.
Walker Cole, Hayley's brother, left home right after graduation. Though he stayed in touch at the very beginning, for the last five years no one has heard from him except for a couple texts. He didn't come home when their mother was diagnosed with cancer, for her funeral, or for Hayley's wedding. All we know, as readers, is that he was involved in something dangerous that he can't talk about. Both Hayley and Amy, who had a crush on him as a teenager, have been incredibly hurt by his actions and harbor a great deal of anger toward him. Walker accepts this, but really wants a chance to mend fences with them both.
There was so much emotional turmoil in this book that it was sometimes painful to read. Walker was hurting so much because of everything he had been through himself, and because of the guilt he felt about what he had done to them. Though he didn't like it, he accepted Quinn's first reaction to seeing him. I ached for him when his sister and Amy were so cold to him. Even Cutter seemed to be withholding acceptance of him. I loved his surprise at the changes in Amy, and how his attraction to her blindsided him.
The crush that Amy had had on Walker, and how much she had looked up to him, made his actions seem even worse to her. Her protectiveness to her friend really showed in the way she read him the riot act. She also couldn't believe that she still felt an attraction to him. This added to the turmoil she felt around him, and helped to feed her anger.
When she tells Quinn and Hayley about the issue that brought her to them, Walker is at first kept at a distance. No one is sure whether he can be trusted. It was interesting to see who it was that brought him into the loop. Walker finds himself feeling very protective of Amy, and I loved seeing how that protectiveness began to change opinions of him.
As the group returned to LA to continue the investigation into Amy's problem, I really loved how Walker began to began to earn a bit of respect. His insistence on being Amy's guard surprised them all, especially when he demonstrated his capability by taking on Quinn. Forced into spending a lot of time together as they carry out their plans, Amy begins to suspect that Walker isn't as changed from the boy she knew as she had thought. I loved how her feelings for him continued to change and grow. Walker had accepted his own feelings, but was quite certain that they would never be returned thanks to the secrets he's had to keep.
The investigation of Amy's boss by the people of Foxworth was fantastic. Each step was carefully taken to ensure Amy's safety. As each clue was uncovered the danger continued to increase. I began to suspect that everything wasn't quite as straightforward as it seemed and the final confrontation had a very interesting twist to it. When it was all over, another part of the wonder of Foxworth came out, and that was the sense of them being one big family. The request that Quinn had made of Rafe yielded results that surprised them all. I loved the fact that it only confirmed what they had already begun to understand about Walker. Their final demonstration of their love and trust was fantastic and I loved seeing what it meant to him.
As always, Cutter has a starring role in the book. I really enjoyed the way that he watched Walker before showing him any kind of acceptance. It's always fun to see how the people defer to his judgment. He also seems almost human in the way that he observes Walker and Amy and expresses his feelings over their actions. There were many places that had me laughing out loud over what he was doing. The scene as they left for the office party was especially funny. Of course, his sweet side had nothing on his protective side, and his part in the final confrontation was awesome. It's also fun to see that by the end of the book, his matchmaking skills are still undefeated.
I can't wait to see see who is up next in this series. Both Liam and Rafe are still running free. I'm especially looking forward to Rafe's story, as I suspect who he is going to be paired with. That should be a book with some amazing fireworks.