Once Touched (Silver Creek #3)
Ballantine Books / November 24, 2015 / $7.99 print & digital
The youngest of the three Knowles siblings, Quinn has in her blood the love of the land and its beautiful creatures. Raising enough money to build an animal sanctuary is a dream Quinn lives every day—while fending off her family’s well-intentioned matchmaking schemes. Though harboring secret fears about intimacy, Quinn soon realizes she cannot fight her growing attraction to a man who has suddenly entered her life.
Scarred by his months in Afghanistan and the violence he witnessed there through his camera lens, photojournalist Ethan Saunders throws himself into hard ranching work as a prescription for healing. But falling for Quinn has given him the one thing he thought he’d lost forever: hope. Ethan discovers that Quinn, like the innocent animals she rescues, is shy, and afraid of entrusting her heart to a man. Passion soon awakens Ethan’s strength, and his tender seduction may be just what Quinn needs to believe in herself—and in his love.
In her Silver Creek series, Laura Moore has created a trifecta of delights. Once Touched is a perfect example of a small town romance done right with a unique setting, appealing characters, and a splendid love story.
The setting is unique because it is a wonderful mix of small town coziness with big city sophistication—the Knowles family lives on a working ranch that is also a resort. It the sort of place that even the most discriminating of readers can imagine visiting:
The amenities and services that her family and Silver Creek’s staff provided were designed to pamper the senses. The ranch’s restaurant offered delicious food, locally sourced. The cabins, stocked with luxury comforts—cloud-soft beds, combed-cotton bed linens, and bathtubs large enough to accommodate two with lots of wiggle room—created a sensual next where guest would indulge and, in the true spirit of Marvin Gaye, get it on.
The characters are charming. The Knowles’ family interaction with each other showcases the best aspects of family life—the unwavering love; the steadfast support, and even the teasing, like Quinn’s brothers Ward and Reid show her:
“So she introduced you to the goats,” Reid said. “Don’t let them or Quinn drive you crazy. Believe me, they can.”
Ward nodded in agreement. “Quinn’s like a force of nature. She leaves most of us reeling.”
And while I’ve enjoyed every character’s story— this is the third and last book in the series—I do have to admit that from the very beginning Quinn captured my imagination. Part of it, of course, is her love of animals. Once Touched is a smorgasbord of animal delight—an adult version of a splendid petting zoo. The scenes with Quinn interacting with her rescued creatures is touching—from her loud obnoxious parrot; her re-homed wolf; her skittish horses; her adorable rabbit; her loyal dog; her independent cat and of course her amusing, frisky goats. In fact, her goats, are the first thing that Ethan and Quinn have in common:
So this here’s Coco, my most demanding Toggenburg.” Dropping a kiss on the bony ridge above the goat’s eye, she continued, “Coco, this is Ethan. He’s going to get to know you today. . .
Quinn sat on a low bench and got to work, talking as she picked up one of the washcloths and dunked it into the bucket of soapy water. “Before you begin milking, you have to wash the udder and teats first,” she said, swabbing them with gentle efficiency... She set the cloth and bucket aside. “Now, watch carefully. As I said, Coco’s a big of a diva. She gives a lot of milk but doesn’t tolerate fumblers. On the upside, if you can milk Coco, the rest of my girls will be a breeze. I’ll—”
“Wait. You intend to have me milk your goat?”
“Yup. It’s your new job. Consider yourself enrolled in Milking 101. See this? This here is a teat.” She brushed the distended teat with her index finger. “You ever handled one before?” The ghost of a grin lifted the corner of her mouth.
Damn, he liked her sense of humor.
It is easy to identify with Quinn, too—not just because of her love of animals, but because she wonders what is wrong with her. Why isn’t she sexually attracted to men who are clearly interested in her?
Josh tipped his hat in acknowledgment. “Planning’s important. I like to get what I want.”
Quinn was okay with that—she liked getting what she wanted, too. The question was whether she really wanted to get to know Josh. . . in a more intimate way. Could she bring herself to try to have sex again? Because experiencing yet another colossal failure at intimacy would be beyond mortifying with a man like Josh.
And excellent argument for ignoring his calendar-pinup body, cleft chin, Texas twang, and appreciation for fine horseflesh.
But Quinn discovers what we all have to discover—that there is nothing wrong with her –the right man makes all the difference:
In a perfect world, she’d have figured out a way to be rid of both men: Ethan, who was hurting and withdrawn yet whose touch left her flustered and hyperaware of things she usually never noticed, like the dark crescent his lashes made against his cheeks, the intelligence that pierced the shadows of his gray eyes, the light brown hair sprinkling his forearms. . .
And then there was Josh, so handsome and comfortable with himself, who seemed intent on pursuing her with a happy and steady cheer that was making her feel like a seesaw. One minute she wanted to resist him, the next she found herself tempted to yield.
But of course the heart of the book, is a charming story of two people falling in love—finally finding the right person—the person that understands them. Plus Moore just does a wonderful job of illustrating the important building blocks of love—not only sexual attraction but caring; understanding; and common values.
Simply put, Once Touched is a feel-good-story that you won’t want to miss!
Learn more about or order a copy of Once Touched by Luara Moore, avaiable on November 24, 2015: