“Scandal is gossip made tedious by morality.” ― Oscar Wilde
BLURB: After an affair with a married DA led to scandal and disbarment, Cooper Nelson left his legal career in shambles, and found solace working as a hand at the Blue River Ranch. Eight years later, during a rare visit into town, Cooper bumps into Kelly Freed, a man he left behind fifteen years earlier when he started out as an attorney. Unfortunately, Kelly is running for sheriff and his wife is terminally ill, so Kelly can’t even consider rekindling their relationship. Cooper knows from sad experience that hiding the truth leads to lives being ruined, so for his part, he refuses to be anybody’s dirty secret.
In the meantime circumstances at neighboring Blackwater Ranch have taken a desperate turn. Gable’s friend Calley has breast cancer, and when Gable and Flynn take in Calley’s kids, they need help from their friends. Cooper and Kelly’s combined talents are put to work to ensure Gable can make a bid to become the legal father of his children, and that Calley’s affairs are in order if worse comes to worst. For Cooper, staying away from Kelly was never easy, and now with a common cause, Cooper finds he can’t stop himself from seeking the man out.
Review: I have been addicted to this series since the day I stumbled upon the first book in the series Clouds and Rain. Cooper and Kelly are one of my favorite pairs so far. Cooper is a loner through and through, and Kelly is the exact opposite. That may be why they mesh together so well. He and Kelly both loved each other when they were together in law school, and it was the kind of love that doesn’t die just because the two men moved on from one another.
When Cooper runs into Kelly again, all the old feelings come rushing back, but they both fight their attraction to the other. Cooper refuses to be another dirty secret, and Kelly is running for Sheriff and still married. It was almost painful to watch these two wanting each other so much, but they were each trying to do the right thing. When their neighbors, Gable and Flynn, find out that Callie is sick, Cooper and Kelly end up working together to help them. It turns out that two of the children Callie has taken in are linked to Cooper’s past, and he has to work hard to mend some badly broken fences.
This book has plenty going on. There is a teenage crush, reunited lovers, friends gained and love lost. There are cowboys, lawmen and some very sweet babies making appearances also. I was glad to see visits from all of my favorite characters in the previous books, and an introduction to some new characters that may make future appearances. If you haven’t read the previous books in the series you won’t have to, but I believe it will only enhance the experience if you do. I believe Zahra Owens has hit this one out of the park and I can’t wait to see what happens next.