Linda reads: Cowboy Take Me Away by Jane Graves

After surviving a horrific childhood, Luke Dawson leaves Rainbow Valley, Texas determined to forget the past, including a childhood friend, Shannon North.  Luke becomes a bull rider and is destined for the world championship.  He decides to come back to town for the funeral of his father and maybe some closure on his past.

Shannon North left a high power, high paying job as a CPA to return to her roots in Rainbow Valley and take over the Rainbow Valley Animal Shelter.  She worked there during her teens and it holds a special place in her heart.  The shelter is now run down, overcrowded and dependent on donations.  Shannon is hoping her experience in the finance world will help pull her beloved shelter from ruin.  She and Luke have a past that ended badly, and she avoids his father’s funeral.

Luke’s plans are to leave town as soon as the funeral is over, but decides to take a look at the property and home his father left behind.  Maybe if he goes into the house, he can erase some of the demons plaguing him.  But as he tries to take that first step onto the worn porch, he crashes through and injures his knee.  Luckily, Shannon drives by and suddenly they are thrown together whether they like it or not.

What follows is a painful, inspiring, hopeful journey where both Luke and Shannon have to overcome obstacles from their past and try to build on the feelings they reluctantly still feel for one another.   Luke grows from an obstinate, juvenile delinquent to a charismatic, caring adult.  He’s determined to show everyone in town that he is not his father’s son.  Shannon struggles with her perception of him (helped along by an overbearing mother) and some of her own issues from her past.  You can really feel this couple’s pain and will find yourself holding your breath for a happy outcome.

This story also includes some wonderful secondary characters in the towns’ people, an interesting legend, and the animals that are housed at the animal shelter bring an added extra dimension to the story.

This book fits in perfectly with the popularity of small town romances.  It is heartwarming, inspiring and very entertaining.

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