He's Just The Hired Help…
What kind of cockeyed Pollyanna is Colin Cade working for? Her porch is rotting, her "guest cabin" is cheerless and her land and livestock have only a geriatric cowboy to care for them. Yet Hannah Shaw is positive she can turn her ranch into a successful B and B -- and that Colin's the man to make it happen.
But Colin can't stick around. He lives with the loss of his family by avoiding the memories, and the way he feels around Hannah and her young son is like a knife to the heart. Trouble is, he's better at ignoring his own pain than someone else's, and bright, cheerful Hannah has a heart as haunted as his own. She deserves to be happy -- but could she really be with him?
Good book about two people dealing with their losses in completely different ways. Colin lost his wife and son in an accident, and spends his time running from the pain and memories. He goes from job to job, never staying long in the same place. His latest job ended earlier than expected, when the boss's wife makes unwanted advances, leaving him with a month before his next job. He hears about a "widow woman" who needs help with her ranch and decides to check it out.
Hannah is living on the ranch with her four year old son. She has no family other than little Evan, having grown up in the foster system. Her husband was killed overseas before their son was born, and his parents are gone also. The ranch had been in her husband's family for a long time, and she is determined to make it a success. She plans to turn it into a B & B, but it needs work and she has a limited budget. However, she refuses to let the problems get her down, and makes the conscious decision every day to look on the bright side of things.
At the start, Colin and Hannah are like oil and water. She is nothing like he expected, and her little boy is the same age his son would have been. This aggravates the pain he is running from, and he's determined to stay only a few days and then move on. Hannah is grateful for whatever Colin can do to help, but frustrated by his standoffishness. Within a couple days, Evan and Hannah start to have an effect on Colin. He keeps finding more things that need to be done before he's willing to leave. A sense of protectiveness toward both of them leads him to stay longer than he had planned.
I liked seeing how they developed a friendship before anything else happened. Because she had also suffered a devastating loss, Hannah is very empathetic to Colin's feelings. I loved the scene where he'd had the nightmare and she was just there for him. They didn't need to talk, just the presence of another person helped Colin through it. That was the crack that started the breakdown of his walls. But it wasn't an easy thing, because he was still afraid to risk his heart again. I ached for her when it looked like she was about to have another loss. I loved how it was Colin's turn to be on the receiving end of blunt advice when it came to love, just as he had done to his brother and sister.. His big moment at the end was really good.