Search and rescue pilot Kacey Fairing is home on leave in Mercy Falls, Montana, twelve years after she joined the military to escape the mistakes of her past. With a job waiting for her as the new lead pilot of Peak Rescue in Glacier National Park, Kacey hopes to reconnect with the now-teenage daughter she sees only between deployments. What she doesn’t realize is that someone else is also back in town.
Ben King has been building his country music career since the day Kacey shut him out of her life. Now all of that’s on hold when his injured father calls him home to help run Peak Rescue until he’s fully recovered. It doesn’t take long, though, to discover his father’s ulterior motives as Kacey Fairing walks into the house and back into his heart.
With Mercy Falls in a state of emergency due to flash floods, Kacey and Ben are forced to work together to save lives. But when floodwaters turn personal, can they put aside the past to save their future?
“Okay, fill me in here. Who is this new pilot?”
Ben might have imagined it, but he thought he saw his father turn a shade gray. “Before she gets here, I need to talk to you, son.”
“Dad, are you okay?”
Through the window over the sink, he saw a figure move out from Ian’s house, climb into the Escape. From this vantage point, it looked like a woman.
But he didn’t have time to think that through, sort it out from what he knew about Ian, because his father had turned to him.
“Son, I know you say you’re not hiding, but the fact is you’ve never been the same since you and Kacey split up-”
Ben’s gut tightened. “Dad, stop.”
The Escape pulled a U-ey, started their direction.
“And I know there’s a lot of hurt there, but-”
“Hurt, Dad? That’s how you’re framing it?”
“I know you have unfinished business.”
“I can promise you we don’t.”
“And I think the reason you’ve never been truly happy in Nashville is-”
“I’m happy in Nashville! I have a great career, fans, a house that’s five times this size-”
“Because you never stopped loving her.”
And now Ben had nothing. His father stared at him.
Chet’s voice dropped. “You’re still running from your mistakes, refusing to forgive yourself.”
“No, Kacey couldn’t forgive me.”
Although, what good would it do to forgive himself, really? It was over, either way.
The Escape rolled to a stop in front of their house.
“That’s the thing. What if you gave yourself a second chance?”
His dad’s words dug in, even as the car door closed.
“There’s no second chances, Dad. You can’t go back and fix the past.”
Chet’s grin was rueful. “Well, I guess we’ll see about that.”
Boots scuffed on the porch, and now his dad’s expression changed. Hardened. “Listen, sometimes you just gotta have faith. See that it can work out for good. There are second chances. Even grace, son, if you’ll open your eyes to see it. To let it in-”
“Hello? Mr. King, are you here?”
Ben simply froze. The voice, sweet, bright, carrying so much of the past and too many fragmented hopes, rushed over the threshold, flooded through the house, and caught him by the throat.
No. His father did not call-
“In here!” his father hollered.
Ben stared at his father even as the footsteps stole his breath, stopped his heart. And yes, he had the crazy urge to get up, push away from his father, and simply, well, run.
Put this town and his father’s meddling behind him.
He didn’t want to rehash the past. Didn’t even want a second chance.
“Dad . . .” His voice shook.
“This is why you came home, Benny,” his father said quietly. “Not for me. And not for you. For her.”
Then he looked up, past Ben, and smiled. “Kacey Fairing. Finally. And, I might add, just in time.”
He glanced at Ben, grinned as if he hadn’t just put a fist through his son’s chest.
“You’re a sight for sore eyes. Right, Ben?”
Whether she’s writing romantic suspense, or straight contemporary romance, Susan May Warren sure knows how to get her characters into an emotional tangle! Not only that, but she’s a dynamic writer who knows how to fill her novels with plenty of physical action as well as meaningful interactions across the emotional spectrum. There’s never a dull moment, that’s for sure!
In this, the first book in her Montana Rescue series, she’s got TWO couples (or perhaps I should say, potential couples) in an emotional tangle. The first is country music star, Benjamin King, and the girl he once proposed to: helicopter pilot, Kacey Fairing. The second couple is Ian Shaw, founder of the PEAK Search and Rescue team, and his assistant, Sierra Rose.
Ben and Kacey’s story goes back more than thirteen years, and neither of them knows the full story about the night that drove a wedge between them. It’s little wonder their surprise reunion is fraught with palpable tension. That tension is released in a rush when they are called to search for two missing teenagers in Glacier National Park – one of whom is the teenage daughter Ben thought Kacey had given up for adoption.
It’s true, there are several misunderstandings at the root of Ben and Kacey’s relationship breakdown, which could have been overcome if these characters had been more willing to communicate with each other rather than fostering their anger and resentment. Normally I find that annoying – and it did come close on a few occasions – but here it at least felt believable rather than contrived; they were seventeen at the time, after all! As the story progresses, Ben and Kacey struggle to overcome the instinct to continue reacting that way. There were times I wasn’t sure they would succeed, but it was great to see them mature as characters.
It was also an emotionally charged story as Ben got to know his daughter, Audrey. He and Kacey have to find an appropriate time and way to tell Audrey that Ben is her father, not to mention confronting the reality of their feelings for one another, Ben’s music career, his flirtatious and possessive co-star, and Kacey’s disapproving father. Whew! And that’s beside the search and rescue action!
Ian and Sierra’s story is a secondary plot to Ben and Kacey’s, and if you haven’t read the prequel to the series, If Ever I Would Leave You, you might want to grab yourself a copy so you can start at the beginning; especially since it’s free at the moment! There’s plenty of romantic tension carried over into this novel, not to mention the disappearance of Ian’s niece, Esme, three years ago – the reason the PEAK Search and Rescue team was founded in the first place.
I won’t say much about this plot except that it looks like the search for Esme will carry through the series. I also think Ian has a few issues of pride and stubbornness to work through. I didn’t like the way he handled some things in this novel, but it was believable for his character, and he’s living the consequences. I’m looking forward to reading more of his and Sierra’s stories as the series progresses.
To sum up, this is exactly the kind of action-packed, emotionally charged story we’ve come to expect from Susan May Warren, and all that is left to say now is WOOHOOO! We only have to wait a little over three months for the next one!
I received a complimentary copy of this novel from the publisher. This has not affected the content of my review.
Release date: 18 October 2016
Publisher: Revell Books
Author’s website: http://www.susanmaywarren.com/