Title: Home on the Range by Ruth Logan Herne
Double S Ranch Series Book Three
Genre: Contemporary, Christian, Romance
Length: 322 pages
Book Rating: B+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Blogging for Books
Can the brother left behind and a woman without hope work together for the good of two precious children?
Nick Stafford stayed in central Washington, working his family’s large ranch after his brothers left to pursue other passions—but his toughest job is being a single dad. As a child he watched his father fail at marriage and parenting, so Nick was determined to show him up. He’d be a better husband, father, and ranch manager than Sam Stafford ever was. Despite that commitment, three years after Nick’s wife left him, he has a daughter in trouble at school and both of his girls are facing issues that force him to rethink his stubborn plans.
For Dr. Elsa Andreas, life fell apart when tragedy caused her to abandon her family therapy practice and retreat to the backwoods of Gray’s Glen. Her school principal sister believes Elsa can guide the Stafford girls and that working with kids will draw Elsa out of her protective bubble.
Summer on the Double S teems with life and adventure. Amid the bounty of God and land, will Nick and Elsa find the courage to build futures based on faith rather than fear?
Home on the Range by Ruth Logan Herne is an incredibly heartfelt novel of healing and renewed faith. This second installment in the Double S Ranch series features a pair of adorable little girls, a divorced single dad and a somewhat fragile yet surprisingly resilient psychologist. Although this latest release can be read as a standalone, I HIGHLY recommend the first book in the series as well.
For months, middle brother Nick Stafford has stubbornly resisted all efforts to take his daughters, six year old Dakota and eight year old Cheyenne, to a counselor to help them deal with the abandonment of their mother. However, with Cheyenne putting herself into dangerous situations and on the verge of failing school, he knows it is time to put aside his reservations and seek professional assistance. While Dakota is refreshingly open with an upbeat personality, Cheyenne is rebellious, stubborn and lashing out at everyone around her. Nick is a little leery of entrusting his girls to reclusive therapist Dr. Elsa Andreas but he is determined to do right by his daughters. Gratified to see Cheyenne slowly but surely improving with each session, he is pleasantly surprised by the realization that he is also benefiting from talking to Elsa. When Nick and Elsa realize there is more to their relationship than their mutual concern for the girls, will they take a chance on love?
Nick is the only one of his brothers to remain in Washington to work on their family ranch. His relationship with his father, Sam, is contentious and emotionally distant. He has never come to terms with his mother’s long ago abandonment but he always dreamed of having a family of his own. His marriage to his now ex-wife Whitney ended when she walked out on him and their daughters and then left town with another man. Although he only wants to keep his girls safe and make them happy, he has been stubbornly resisting Cheyenne’s efforts to become more involved with the ranch that his ex-wife hated. However events in the past several months have escalated to the point that Nick finally realizes that something needs to change before he completely alienates Cheyenne. Taking his daughters to therapy is just the first step in fixing the problems wrought by Whitney’s desertion but just as Nick is making positive changes in their lives, their progress is threatened by his ex-wife’s sudden return.
Leaving behind a lucrative practice in the aftermath of tragedy, Elsa has been living a solitary life in seclusion. Despite her initial reluctance to counsel the girls, she is surprised by how easily Nick’s daughters slip past her defenses. As she becomes more engaged in helping the girls cope with their problems, Elsa finally begins to heal from the wounds from the traumatic events that sent her into a downward spiral. The changes are gradual but significant as she begins to fully participate in life and she is stunned by her sudden interest in Nick. Fully committed to providing Cheyenne and Dakota with the counseling they need, Elsa is also open to exploring her unexpected relationship with Nick. What, if any, impact will Whitney’s return have on their fledgling romance?
The situation with Whitney is realistically portrayed and it is absolutely heartbreaking watching her careless and sometimes, indifferent, treatment of her daughters. While Dakota keeps her distance from her mother, Cheyenne is thrilled to see her again. However, reality does not exactly match up to Cheyenne’s dreams of their reunion and she is soon dealing with fresh disappointment as Whitney fails to follow through with promises. Nick is fairly certain he knows the real reason his ex-wife has come back into their lives, but despite his reservations, he is willing to give to her chance to fix her relationship with their daughters. He remains firm with her despite her bitterness over perceived slights and although he gives her some leeway as she repeats past mistakes, Nick continues to try protect them from further heartache from their mother.
The relationship between Nick and Elsa begins as friendship and gradually turns to love as they spend time together. Although their initial interactions are related to the girls, they soon discover they share common interests outside of their mutual concern for Dakota and Cheyenne. As their lives become more closely intertwined, their feelings for each other quickly evolve into something much deeper. However, Elsa’s hesitation in revealing the truth about her past leads to trouble and Nick cannot help but feel betrayed once he discovers she has been less than honest with him.
Home on the Range is an incredible journey of healing and faith that will resonate with readers who have struggled to put their complete trust in God. The characters are multi-faceted and beautifully rendered with relatable imperfections, strengths and desires. The storyline is endearing and believable with each of the characters undergoing tremendous growth as they overcome adversity. This newest addition to Ruth Logan Herne’s delightful Double S Ranch series is an emotionally compelling story that old and new fans are going to love.