Branded

Branded

by Colette Auclair

NOOK Book(eBook)

$5.99

Available on Compatible NOOK Devices and the free NOOK Apps.
WANT A NOOK?  Explore Now

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781476745824
Publisher: Pocket Star
Publication date: 12/15/2014
Series: The Aspen Valley Series
Sold by: SIMON & SCHUSTER
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 630,528
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Colette Auclair has been a copywriter for more than twenty years. She’s ridden and shown horses since she was ten and owns a lovely twenty-year-old Thoroughbred mare. A 2012 Golden Heart finalist in the contemporary romance category, Thrown is her first novel.

Read an Excerpt

Branded

1



Sometimes things aren’t what they seem, but it seemed to Cordy that indeed, there was a man in a tuxedo riding down the chairlift in Aspen. And he was probably drunk, which meant she wanted nothing to do with him.

It was exactly six-thirty-two a.m. on May 16, four hours before the lifts opened. She stood there, panting and staring. He was floating toward her, one arm slung along the back of the chair and a foot, also in formal wear, perched on the seat. The bands of his unfurled bow tie fluttered in the breeze.

My first morning in Aspen and already there’s a guy in a tuxedo. Talk about a town living up to the hype. The app on her phone beeped, telling her she’d logged five miles and could begin her cool-down. After this run, she would officially begin her part-work, part-leisure long weekend. She shook her head and started across the black-diamond run, which without snow was steep but hardly treacherous. As usual, she imagined how Marcas, her horse, would handle it—her dressage horse wasn’t the world’s best trail horse, but she still wished he were here with her. It would be fun to explore the mountains from his back. Maybe she’d have him shipped to Colorado, if she ended up staying longer than a few weeks.

“Damn!” the man said, bringing Cordy back to the present. What, you just realized you were riding a ski lift the wrong way? Cordy thought as she kept walking. She looked up the hill in time to see a silver cylinder hit the grass. It bounced and tumbled down the ski slope, winking in the sun. Remarkably, it stopped short, wedging itself between two small nearby boulders with a muffled metallic clink.

“Excuse me, darlin’,” yelled the man.

Darlin’? Cordy looked up. She was not this man’s darlin’, but she was the only one around.

“It seems my shaker and I have parted company. Could I trouble you to fetch it for me?”

He had a Southern accent. “Why do you have a martini shaker?”

“I was making martinis.”

Silly me. “On a ski lift?” He was passing overhead so she had to crane her neck to see him.

“Last evening. If you could just recover it, I’d be eternally grateful.” He half-turned to face her as he glided by.

“Where were you making martinis?”

“Top of the mountain.”

“For mountain goats?”

She thought he grinned. “Will you please get it for me? It has great sentimental value.”

She had to yell pretty loud now. “Then why’d you drop it?”

“Could you bring it to the hotel bar?”

“When?”

He shouted something, but she couldn’t make it out. What an idiot, to drop a martini shaker. What an idiot to have a martini shaker on a chair lift. Still, it was an interesting turn of events, and a good omen for this new chapter in her life. Quirky. Not exciting, but unusual. She made her way down the slope and plucked the shaker from the boulders. It was dimpled from its flight, but she could make out the engraved initials JCL.

Who are you, JCL? “Guess I’ll find out later today,” she muttered. “If he isn’t too drunk to remember.” She looked down the mountain and saw that the man had neglected to jump off the lift and was headed back up.

Wow. He’s super drunk. She didn’t particularly want to have another shouted conversation, so she jogged into the trees, out of earshot. Still, she heard his voice.

“Take care of that shaker, darlin’!”



Cordy couldn’t remember if she’d ever been to a restaurant bar as it opened. It made her feel so . . . pathetic. Occasionally she’d lingered over a late brunch and been around when the dinner service began. But this? Nah.

It wasn’t every day you had to return a martini shaker to a man who shouted to you from a ski lift. A handsome man. Scratch that—a handsome drunk. He might not even make it here. She’d have a cocktail and if he didn’t show by the time she’d finished, she’d head back to her room, because she had better things to do—those notes on the Pinnacle Resort weren’t going to write themselves.

Setting the shaker on the bar, she picked up the cocktail menu. The thirtysomething bartender materialized before her, a dime-sized portion of a dark-green tattoo peeking above his starched white collar. His light-brown hair kept to itself, a disciplined wavy mass Cordy found appealing. He angled his head and indicated the shaker.

“We’re a full-service resort. We have our own shakers, but if you insist . . .”

What? She followed his gaze. “Oh! I’m returning that.”

“So you’re the one.” He raised his chin.

“I didn’t steal it!” The bartender laughed and after a beat, Cordy felt her cheeks relax. “Oh. You’re kidding.” Lighten up, Cordy! “What I mean is, the owner is coming to get it.”

“Looks like a nice one. Would you like me to wipe it off for you?”

“No,” Cordy said quickly and too primly. She didn’t want to do that clumsy drunk guy any favors because she felt put-upon as it was. It was her own fault—no one forced her to retrieve the shaker—but she resented him all the same. “It’s fine as is.” She was waiting for a stranger for whom she’d done a favor. She should feel good; instead, she felt . . . owed. May as well enjoy myself while I wait. And act like a “real” guest. With that in mind, she went for decadent and ordered a champagne cocktail. To counter her immediate guilt, she followed with a respectable and nutritious Cobb salad. She gazed at the entrance to the bar one more time, noting the dark-wood backdrop and the paintings and fabrics in the oranges, reds, and purples of a mountain sunset. Then she pulled out her leather notebook and Cross pen and began to write her initial impressions of the Pinnacle Resort at Aspen.



Thirty minutes later, as her cocktail neared its logical conclusion (she was an admittedly slow drinker) and her salad was gone, Cordy had mellowed. A smattering of other customers had come in, which Cordy calculated was average for five o’clock on a Friday in the off-season.

The off-season. Her favorite phrase because it had given her a dream career that allowed her to make a good living, own and show a horse, and travel around the world. She had become a go-to professional for how to make more money in the off-season. She could look at a resort, no matter where it was, and come up with ways to make hay when the sun didn’t shine, as it were. For Cordy, it was akin to taking a meh horse and making it a wow horse. She used to think anyone could see the off-season potential in a resort, but she accepted that she had a knack, though she was still reluctant to believe the hype heaped on her by happy clients. After working for a company that ran several resorts around the world, she went out on her own. Pinnacle was her first project as an independent contractor, but the winter resort wasn’t her client. A small Aspen ad agency that was trying to impress Pinnacle had hired her to overdeliver and wow them. She was a surprise bonus, and her recommendation could be the tipping point.

Or that’s what the agency was banking on. She thought they were overly optimistic, but they were paying her well, so she’d give them their money’s worth.

She had already completed a page of bullet points after being at Pinnacle for less than twenty-four hours. Not bad.

Was someone playing a piano? As Cordy looked around, a lock of shiny wheat-colored hair fell in front of her face. As she shoved it behind her ear, she saw a fresh champagne cocktail in front of her. “Excuse me,” she called to the bartender, who rushed over. “I didn’t order this.”

“It’s on the house, madam.” Did management know why she was here and was trying to impress her? As though she were a secret shopper or something?

“Really? Why?”

“A gentleman came by and bought you a drink.”

“That’s impossible. I don’t know anyone here.”

“Begging your pardon, but that’s what happened.”

“Who was it?”

“He didn’t say,” the bartender replied as he wiped the bar.

“Where is he? I ought to thank him.”

“He left.”

“What did he look like?”

The bartender filled his cheeks with air and puffed it out. “Dark hair. A little taller than me.” He shrugged in defeat.

That didn’t help. If it was the martini guy, surely he would have taken the shaker.

The bartender spoke. “I’d say you have a secret admirer.”

“Right.” She said this merely to confirm she’d heard him because her attention was back on the music. What is that song? I know that song. And where is the piano?

Oh no. No. No no no no no.

“Excuse me, again,” Cordy said. “But where’s the piano?” She struggled to sound polite and not distressed.

“Just behind that tree,” he said, nodding toward an impressively leafy plant in the middle of the room that stretched to the ceiling. Cordy threw back a mouthful of her complimentary drink, dabbed her lips with her napkin, and took a breath before striding to the hidden instrument.

The man’s hands were sure and efficient as they transformed the keys into a gorgeous melody. Playing was muscle memory for him; that much was obvious. He rocked gently to the rhythm as though in a trance, oblivious to her or even that he was in the middle of a restaurant. If she weren’t in such a strange mood, she would have appreciated his talent and artistry.

But the only thing she wanted to do was stop him.

“Excuse me,” she said.

No response.

She stared for a moment, willing him to look at her. The mental energy she expended could have bent several spoons, possibly a spatula. Or a shovel. He kept going, damn him. “Excuse me!” she said, louder this time.

He looked at her. Mildly. And literally didn’t miss a beat.

She was pretty sure it was the martini shaker guy. Of course. Because this was inconvenient, too. Maybe he didn’t recognize her. After all, he’d been flying overhead and three sheets to the wind when they’d met more than ten hours earlier. She sighed, flicked her hands at him, and said, “Could you maybe skip over this song and play something else?”

He shook his head and a few strands of pin-straight brown hair flopped into his eyes. “I’m sorry; I can’t hear you. I’m playing the piano.”

God. She spoke louder. “Yes, I know. I was wondering if you could play a different song?” He continued playing all those damned notes she hated, while conversing—of course he was—he was a professional, what did she expect? It wasn’t even multitasking for him, it was his job to chat up diners while playing.

“This is a great song. Cole Porter. What do you have against Cole Porter?”

“Nothing, but—”

“This is part of my warm-up. I always play ‘So In Love.’ ”

It seemed he was embellishing the tune just to annoy her. The golden buzz from her vintage cocktail had turned on her and was making her grumpy.

He continued, “Have you ever heard the words? They’re beautiful.” Then, to add musical insult to emotional injury, he started over and sang softly, so only she could hear. Her own private concert from hell.

His voice was as smooth as a premium liqueur and his accent—Southern and lyrical—disappeared. Still, hearing a declaration of a searing love come out of this man’s mouth only made her feel terrible. What did Cole Porter know? This kind of love doesn’t exist except in songs. I should know. Her throat ached, her cheeks heated and, lo and behold, she was about to cry. This wasn’t going to happen. She clamped down on her unacceptable emotional response, leaned toward him, and said, “Please.”

“I’ll finish—”

She blurted, “I’ll give you a hundred dollars to stop.”

He kept playing. “You abhor it that much?”

She rolled her eyes. “A hundred bucks to do less. Come on.”

“Deal.” He finished with a flourish, held out his hand with its long, strong fingers, and raised his eyebrows at her.

“I don’t have that much cash on me.” She folded her arms under her breasts.

“You should have thought of that before you bribed me to stop.”

“I’ll leave it with the bartender.”

“George? He’s a confirmed kleptomaniac. I’ll never see a red cent.”

“I’ll leave you a check, then.”

“I’m sorry, darlin’, but traditionally speaking, bribes are cash only.” He whispered, “You don’t want it to be traced.”

“It’s not a bribe. I made it worth your while to stop playing. Think of it as a tip.”

“Pourboires are usually given as an expression of appreciation.”

“Pourboires?”

“Tips. Why did you want me to stop? That was a whole lot of hatred aimed at poor Mr. Porter’s classic.”

Cordy sniffed and looked at the far wall over Martini Boy’s head. “I’d rather not say.”

“All that hostility can’t be good for you. Why don’t we discuss it over a . . . champagne cocktail?”

She knew her face betrayed her—her eyes widened, her eyebrows shot up, and her mouth opened a little more than usual. There was a reason she wasn’t a professional poker player or counterintelligence operative. “No. Thank you. I should go.”

He tsked and shook his head. “I would’ve never taken you for a welsher.”

“I’m not—Don’t worry, you’ll get your money.”

His full lips kicked up at the corners, making him more appealing than she cared to admit. It was the kind of appealing that made her want to stick around.

“As I see it, you owe me a hundred dollars and my martini shaker. Which I thank you for returning, by the way. It’s another reason I need to buy you a drink. In fact, I hardly think a drink’s enough—after all, that shaker is very important to me. I believe I owe you at least a dinner. Would you do me the honor of having dinner with me this evening, Miss . . . ? It is Miss, correct?”

He didn’t need to know her name or her marital status. Not with that appealing smile chipping away at her defenses. “That’s very generous of you, but I don’t know you and you don’t know me. We don’t have to be friends. I’m sure you have plenty of friends. I’ll give you your hundred dollars, you can take your shaker—it’s right there on the bar, safe and sound—and we’ll go our separate ways. It’s not necessary to have dinner. It’s not necessary to have drinks or coffee or . . . anything. We had an encounter, then a business transaction, and that’s all. Besides, you can’t leave your shift—as you pointed out, you only just started playing, and the cocktail crowd is going to want their Gershwin as a backdrop for their scintillating conversations.” She looked at the top of the upright. “Hey, where’s your brandy snifter? You’re good. A guy like you could make a lot of . . . pourboires.” She gazed at his face just in time to see it brighten. He didn’t smile, but his lips twitched and his eyes lighted. She was on a roll and it felt good. “After you’re done with your Harry Connick, Jr. stint, surely you have a few martinis to make, don’t you? Or do you only bartend on top of the mountain with your friends the goats?”

He swiveled on the piano bench to face her. “Honey, your drink’s getting warm, and that’s a tragedy.” He stood. He was taller than she’d predicted. He had six inches on her, easy. She didn’t like that she had to look up to him now, after getting to look down at him this whole time. “Let’s go rescue that drink,” he said, and turned her with a finger on her shoulder. That finger then breezed the small of her back, propelling her toward the bar. “And careful about speaking ill of mountain goats,” he said as they walked. “They’re integral to the ecosystem here, they please the tourists, and they’re remarkably rugged, graceful, nimble creatures.” He pulled out her barstool for her.

Cordy thought about dismissing his gesture, but decided to finish her cocktail. He amused her, and that was worth a few more minutes of her time. “I didn’t say anything bad about goats. I called them your friends. What does that say about you?”

Plus he was easy on her eyes. He had great hair—the dark brown of a horse’s deep bay coat, and glossy—with regular features, a nose straight and assertive as a dressage whip, wide, dark eyes, full lips . . . A woman could do worse. He was elegant, yes, but oh-so-unavoidably masculine. A dangerous combination, but perfect for temporary scenery at a bar in a ski resort in Aspen.

She sat. He stood. He sipped her drink. “Hey!” she said.

“Just as I feared. Too warm.” He beckoned the bartender. “George, the lady is in dire need of another champagne cocktail, if you will. This one is tepid. And I’ll have one as well.”

“It was fine,” Cordy said.

“No, it wasn’t. There’s nothing worse than warm champagne.”

“I can think of something worse.”

He sat, then looked at her, and his gaze was so focused, she felt there must be a red laser dot on her nose. Her pulse actually kicked up a notch. “And, pray tell, what would that be?” This had to be what an impala felt like when it knew it couldn’t outrun the lion.

“Impertinent pianists.”

“Come now, was I really that bad?”

“You weren’t exactly cooperative. You could’ve stopped when I asked the first time.”

“I assure you, under the right circumstances, with the right woman, I can be the very picture of cooperation.”

Cordy shifted on her barstool. Where was George with her cocktail? And why was Martini Boy with her and not at the piano? Normally she wouldn’t have asked, but her experience with him had been anything but normal. “Don’t you need to get back to the piano? People are starting to fidget.”

“They’ll manage,” he said, looking around the room. “Would you be so kind as to hand me my shaker? I’d like to inspect it for damage.”

Cordy handed it to him and noted his clean, flat, broad nails rounding out his capable hands. She also felt their fingers touch for a fraction of a second. “Yeah, so, about that. What was up with that?”

“What was up with what?”

“You dropping it. If it means so much to you, shouldn’t you have been more careful?”

“People drop things all the time,” he said, turning the shaker as he examined it. “It’s an international habit.”

“Clumsy people drop things. You play the piano like a dream, so I’m guessing you’re not usually clumsy. All that hand-eye coordination and everything.”

“You give me an immense amount of credit. I hear Van Cliburn had an embarrassing and expensive habit of dropping crystal.”

Who was this guy who talked like he’d just stepped out of 1920? Cordy was slightly surprised he was in color and not black-and-white like an old movie. Nobody really talked like this. He was putting on an act. He had to be. Well, two could play at this game. She was going to say something out of character.

Their drinks arrived and Cordy took a good long sip. She furloughed her internal editor, the one who kept her scrupulously polite, then looked at him. “Why were you in a tux riding the ski lift the wrong way and carrying a martini shaker at six thirty in the morning?”

He grinned and took a few swallows of the water George had given them with the drinks, making her wait. He set the glass down and licked his lips.

“Earlier in the evening, I attended a party that demanded formal wear.”

“What kind of party?”

“A formal one.”

She beetled her brows at him. “It went on until sunrise? At your age? Were the cops involved? You can tell me. After all, it’s not like we’ll see each other again.”

“Now that would be a tragedy of epic proportions.”

“Trust me, it’ll be fine.”

“Doubtful.”

“Was it a wedding? Which would be unusual on a Thursday, but not unheard of.”

“No.”

“Graduation? Bar mitzvah? Barn raising?”

“You’re not going to guess the occasion. Have you considered the possibility that I might just enjoy dressing up?”

“Oh!” Was this code? Was he telling her he was gay? Which would be great, because they could pal around and she wouldn’t have to worry about getting involved. She would never have guessed, but these days, with straight metrosexuals around every corner, her gaydar was unreliable.

“Oh?” he asked.

She shrugged. “Oh.”

“What does ‘oh’ mean?”

“ ‘Oh’ means ‘oh.’ ” She couldn’t tell him what she was thinking. Even her absent editor returned to keep her silent.

“ ‘Oh’ means ‘oh,’ huh? All right, then. Since you were so kind as to return my shaker, I’m not going to press you for an answer.”

“Now we’re even,” Cordy said, feeling positively cocky. “You didn’t answer my question and I didn’t answer yours. Let’s just enjoy our drinks, okay?”

“Absolutely. Whatever you prefer.” He tipped his flute to clink with hers, sipped, then paused. “Hmm.”

“What?” she asked.

“Nothing. Just hmm.”

“What?”

“You won’t tell me what ‘oh’ means, but you expect me to tell you what ‘hmm’ means?”

Cordy went for the chink in his armor. “It would be the gentlemanly thing to do.”

“If that’s what you think. I was thinking how it’s curious that a woman such as yourself is here alone.”

“What makes you think I’m alone?”

“That would be because you are.”

“Why?”

“You’re in a resort town, at a resort. Most guests come with at least one other person. In your case, I would expect you to be here with a man. A significant other of some sort. Spouse, boyfriend, fiancé—”

“Don’t say that word.”

“Fiancé?”

“Yes. Just . . . don’t. Or I’ll take that shaker and throw it off a cliff.” Cordy smoothed her hair behind her ear and stared at the bubbles zipping to the surface of her drink. Why did he have to say that?

“I promise not to say ‘fiancé’ anymore. If you tell me why I can’t.”

She felt like Martini Boy was squeezing her windpipe. “I can’t. Okay? It’s a . . . thing.” The words choked out. He must’ve noticed because he nodded and didn’t argue. She wished she was one of those people who could laugh and make light of it, but in this case, she couldn’t. “Excuse me for a moment. I’ll be right back.” She reached under the bar to snag her purse from the hook. Purse hooks under bars were a godsend. More points for Pinnacle. Martini Boy stood. More points for Martini Boy.

“Will you be back?” he asked, and sounded concerned.

She slid off the stool. “Yes. I need to use the restroom.” By “use” she meant “regain my composure, then figure out what I want to do next and if it involves you.”

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

Branded 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
reececo331 More than 1 year ago
Branded by Colette Auclair The third romance book in the series, and the third power couple connection.  Cordy Cordelia Hannon Sims is a thirty-two year old Vassar alum, and member of the Junior League. She worked with making packages and developments for businesses around the world giving advice to marketing and sales. She has a lot in her pocket as she struggles to put her life back together. She did not expect to find Jack Cormier a business tycoon in Aspen Colorado. Jack is a former baseball player and best friend to Grady Brunswick a renowned actor and the featured story in Thrown, the author’s first novel. Her subsequent novel Jumped continued the idea of horse women finding unlikely love in Aspen.   Cordy and Jack had an intimate no ties weekend that ended up meaning more to them both. Things may be getting out of hand, and their lives may be what lie between them. Can they overcome their own faults, and mistakes to find out what real love is? 
gromine49 More than 1 year ago
This is the third book in the Aspen Valley series but you don't have to read the previous books to enjoy this one. Although it was very slow to start, once you get past their weekend together and the "interesting" sex scenes, the story really does pick up the pace and turns out very good.  I enjoyed the previous two books in this series over this one because I think the other two involved horses more than this one.  It's vaguely mentioned at the beginning that she has a horse and that's how it is tied into the other two books. Like I previously mentioned I enjoyed the  previous books more and I can't put my finger on why.
CrystalCB More than 1 year ago
Branded is the third book in the Aspen Valley series by Colette Auclair. I have had the opportunity to read all three books. They have all been very enjoyable reads. They have each had really nice covers as well. I think Branded is my favorite so far, check out that beautiful horse. That alone would make me want to read this book.  Cordy Sims has taken a job in Aspen to get away from home. She needs some time away from her family and friends of a very dramatic decision she has made. She has no intention of meeting a handsome gentleman and speeding a wild weekend with him. However when she meets Jack Cormier when he "accidentally" drops something from the sky, things change. Cordy and Jack have an instant attraction and they both decide to explore where things may lead for the weekend.  Jack and Cordy are pretty steamy right from the start of their relationship. When Monday rolls around and they are suppose to part ways neither is ready. However that is the agreement they made so they part ways. Cordy has a job to do and this strong willed lady is going to do her best to get it done. I loved her reaction when she finds out that her relationship with Jack isn't quite over. It's changed a little bit now though. Instead of steaming up the bedroom they are now working together to create the perfect plan for a new client.  I had the opportunity to meet Jack in Jumped, the second book in the Aspen Valley series, so it was really nice to read his story. He is one interesting fellow that certainly has a way with the ladies especially Cordy.  As some of you know I love series books because I LOVE to catch up with old friends. In Branded I got to see what Beth and Finn have been up to since Jumped. It was also great to see  Amanda, Grady, and the girls. Oh and how could I possibly forget Harris. We all need a Harris around. This guy is funny, the best friend anyone could ask for, and has a talent for making interesting drinks that are just what is needed for the moment.  There are also horses included in this lovely story. Of course they were one of my favorite parts of the story. I love when animals are included in the storyline.  I am going to issues a Kleenex warning on this story. There is one part that you are going to need those tissues so grab them before you start reading. I don't want to tell you what happens but you will certainly know what I'm talking about while you are dabbing your eyes reading. I really enjoy Colette Auclair's writing style and creativity. Her characters are fun, friendly, and entertaining to read about. I have enjoyed each of my visits to Aspen Valley.  I can not wait to see what she wonderful story she comes up with next.  I was given the opportunity to read this great story so that I may share my thoughts with you. As always it has been my great pleasure to share my thoughts with you on Branded. 
jeanniezelos More than 1 year ago
Branded, Colette Auclair Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews Genre: Romance, Contemporary. I loved the first book in this series, but book two was let down for me by the female lead, Beth – I just didn’t take to her. We meet her again here, with husband Finn  and her new baby. I found maybe marriage has mellowed her as I liked her so much more! It was great too to catch up with the wonderful Amanda and Grady, and of course Harris and his cocktails....It was the drama in book one that was the icing for me on a great read – the five star part – when Grady was a first class prick – and led to such sadness from Amanda ( he redeemed himself though – and that's just what I love in a book) Though I enjoyed this read it didn’t quite have that deep drama for me, so book one is still my favourite. Cordy, I liked her, had the idea that maybe she was hiding the truth, but she’s so closed in nature its hard to see what she really feels. Jack on the other hand is so open he’s almost a heart on sleeve character. A real Southern gentleman, and I’m cross I can’t remember meeting him before – how could I have missed such a fabulous man? He seems to know just what Cordy needs, and when That scene, you will know when you read which part I mean – the one that’s so heart-breaking, hits he was just so perfect with what he did to help Cordy get through it. Its a great story, turned round from the usual where a couple meet and work there way up to sex, here Cordy and Jack meet and are very quickly flirting and more, and then after the magical weekend they need to get to know each other better...it was fun this way round, and lead to some steamy and sensual scenes. When the sh it hits the fan though it really does, and I was rooting for things to go right. I’d have liked just that bit more seeing how they were coping individually then, I need to see them sad, heartbroken, so I can wallow with them, but we seemed to get it via a retrospective glance back after some time had elapsed. It was a “good” sad, but but not quite up with Grady’s prick move! Stars: Four, A great read, loved catching up with the progress of the others and seeing things like the rescue centre up and running. As a horse lover it played on my all things equine button, and gave me a reading fix that way too. Beth’s ethos mirrors mine, I hate cruelty, and the way horses get passed on all the while. Cordy did say she’d always taken pains to ensure the right homes for hers when they were sold which is good, but for me I knew once I had my horse( s) they’d be with me for life so choosing was a really careful thing. ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers