WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS INFORMATION THAT SOME MAY CONSIDER SPOILERS.
Goodreads synopsis: The search for her birth mother brought Cora Kelly to the New Horizons Boys' Ranch. Getting a job there was easy enough, but confiding in the ranch's owner that she's really her daughter? That task is daunting. Especially with Elijah Turner watching her every move.
Elijah can't deny his deep attraction to Cora. But there's something about the ranch's newest employee that has him questioning her motives. If she's there to hurt his family, there'll be hell to pay. Yet, if the feelings the lovely teacher awakes in his guarded heart are any indication, Cora's appearance might be just what they were all waiting for.
Stats for my copy: Mass market paperback, Harlequin Special Edition, 2017.
How acquired: Fresh Fiction Subscription Box.
First line: Cora Kelly had never met her birth mother.
My thoughts: I work in the adoption field, and I'm always a little leery of reading a book that has an adoption storyline. I can't enjoy the book if adoption is sensationalized or portrayed negatively. But while I've never read this author before, I see her name and hear about her a lot (and a quick perusal of my book collection shows I have six more of her books waiting to be read), so in I went. And I'm really glad I did, because I really liked it.
Cora has applied for and acquired a job at New Horizons Boys Ranch specifically to meet her birth mother, who owns the ranch. It was a closed adoption, so Aiyana wouldn't recognize her name, and Cora doesn't tell her or anyone else who she really is. She's had a good life, she loves her adoptive parents, but there's always been something missing, not knowing her heritage and where she comes from. Throughout the book she struggles with it, with getting close to Aiyana, and Aiyana's adopted son, Eli. Struggles with hiding the truth from them, with whether or not to come clean, or to just leave when her year's contract is up. Constantly wondering and questioning why Aiyana has adopted eight kids, but didn't want her.
Eli is an unexpected complication. Unlike Cora, he was not placed for adoption at birth. He was taken from his abusive and neglectful mother at the age of ten (if I remember correctly). So he's come from a completely different place than Cora, and isn't quite as well adjusted as she is. He loves Aiyana and his adopted brothers, he loves helping run the ranch and making a difference in the lives of the boys there, but other than that he's emotionally closed off. Until he meets Cora, and she gets into his head and under his skin.
The building romance between Cora and Eli was sweet, and I especially loved how supportive and accepting he was when he finally learned Cora's, and Aiyana's, secret. There's a wonderful and touching scene when Cora's adoptive parents learn she has found her birth mother, and Cora drops everything to run home and reassure them that she loves them and that her search for Aiyana is no reflection on them. And when Cora finally learns why Aiyana placed her for adoption, it was a sad story, but an understandable, believable, and worthy story, just like the stories of the hundreds of birth mothers the agency I work for has encountered over the years.
Well done, and beautifully written. Plus a gorgeous cover! And now I'm off to hunt down the rest of the Silver Springs series.