by Alanna Coca, contemporary (2009)
Liquid Silver Books, $5.95, ISBN 978-1-59578-620-3
Andria Thomas is a woman who could use a break. Like Tammy Wynette would sing, give and take a few paraphrasing here and there, the D-I-V-O-R-C-E is as good as final and she doesn't know how seven-year old Jessica will take the news. The company where she works at has a policy that allows her to take a leave of absence in the event of a "major change in family status", so she decides to take a vacation with Jessica, away from the pure H-E-double-L that is the agony of waiting for the divorce to become final.
She decides to revisit the V-Bar, a guest ranch where, about ten years ago, she had a fling with a hot young cowboy that gave her riding lessons (don't cackle, people). But because she had just graduated from high school at that time, she had dreams of her own, dreams that did not include marrying a cowboy at such a young age, she left him. Well, today Jake Walker owns the V-Bar, and he sure isn't too happy to see her again at first. But since they will be around each other for a month, you can guess what will eventually happen, I'm sure.
Don't worry about that Jake's wife thing mentioned in the synopsis on the publisher website - this is not a love triangle. Jake married because... well, he must be a big fan of Melissa Etheridge, let's just say. The focus on this story is more on Andria finding herself, healing her bruised heart, and moving on with life.
Retreat is a pleasant read. The pace is slow but engaging - the story moves rather than meanders around, if I am making sense here, and reading it feels like a nice slow walk around the countryside on a lovely warm day. Both characters are likable, even if some of their arguments feel contrived, and when they decide that they are in love, I can buy that. The contrivances in the plot prevent it from getting a better score from me, but I'd say this is a pretty good follow-up effort from Ms Coca.
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