Conard County (Book 44)
A RANCHER WRAPPED IN RED
Emotionally and creatively drained, country music star Rory McLane returns home to Conard County, Wyoming, to recoup. He's sworn off women to allow himself time to heal and to protect his daughter. But his home's new caretaker is more appealing than he'd ever imagined. Kind and thoughtful, natural beauty Abby Jason makes Rory want to hum a love song once again…
Abby can't help but swoon at Rory's rugged good looks, but the sexy singer is off-limits. Her bitter divorce left her reluctant to trust another man -- even one as devoted to his family as Rory. As he and his daughter fill her heart with love and holiday cheer, she wonders if the cowboy might just be the one Christmas miracle to change her mind.
Very good book. Rory is burned out on his career and his personal life. He's had enough of touring and being away from his daughter, even though his ex-wife has custody. He's also finding it hard to write the music that used to come so easily to him. So he has packed up and returned to his roots in Conard County, hoping that the peace will help him heal.
Abby was hired as the housekeeper in Rory's new house. She's still recovering from her divorce from a man who cheated on her with her boss, then running off with her, leaving Abby both jobless and homeless. The job of housekeeper came along at just the right time, as her work as a waitress wasn't paying the bills. With what she's getting paid, she can save enough to go back to college. She just isn't sure what to expect from her new employer. Will he be one of those stars that travels with an entourage and expects every whim to be catered to?
Imagine her surprise when he arrives by himself in an ordinary pickup truck, with little luggage and an old beat up guitar. He lets her know that he doesn't expect much, that he can't even guarantee he'd show up for regular mealtimes when he's lost in his work. The next few days are pretty quiet, until he gets a call from his ex-wife, giving custody of their daughter to him, because "she's too much trouble". Rory's happiness at getting his daughter back is plain to see, but Abby is worried about being expected to care for her. She knows nothing about kids. She makes a bit of a blunder trying to convey that to Rory, but smooths things over when he returns with Regina.
I loved the relationship that developed between Rory and Abby. Both were attracted to the other, but having been burned in the past, each was trying to resist. Rory is still smarting from his treatment by his ex-wife, plus dealing with all the people who suck up to him in order to get something from him. It has left him finding it hard to trust anyone. Abby also has trust issues, thanks to her ex, plus he did a number on her self esteem. She's attracted to him, but is quite certain that he would never look at her the same way. What I loved about Rory is that he liked Abby for the person she was. He appreciated the fact that she treats him like an ordinary person. With the addition of Regina to the household, they are suddenly spending much more time together. I liked how Rory got Abby involved in his music, and how Abby was able to give him the kind of response he needed. When the two were trapped alone in the house during a weekend storm, the attraction between them got more intense. I really loved the way that they talked to each other about their pasts and the effects on their willingness to get involved with someone else. I loved how they looked at their attraction clearly before doing anything about it. The intensity of what they experienced had them both running scared the next morning, and Rory especially said some truly terrible things. I was impressed, however, with the way that he faced up to what he did and tried to make it right. I thought it said a lot about both of them that they were able to look at what happened and learn from it.
Things get really scary when Regina is taken violently ill. Rory's fear of losing her is obvious and it takes Abby to keep him from giving in to those fears. I loved seeing her support of him, and how it makes clear to her just how strong her feelings for both of them are. The ending is really sweet as Regina makes her wishes known and Rory has to find a way to convince Abby that he loves her for herself.
I really liked Regina. From what was said about her at the beginning I was expecting a brat, but she wasn't. However, she was very smart for a ten year old, and had a very realistic view of her relationship with her mother. I loved her joy at being with her father, and the obviously loving relationship that they had. Her Christmas present for her dad was fantastic and his pride in her was a beautiful thing to see. She was a little tentative with Abby at the beginning, but they made friends fast. I loved seeing the fun that they had together even when Rory wasn't around. She wasn't perfect, as shown by her nagging Rory about a horse, but she wasn't mean about it either. She also knew when to stand up for herself, and proved it with an interesting twist regarding her mom and a renewed custody battle.