By Laura Moore
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Release Date: November 24, 2015
Ethan Saunders returned from Afghanistan broken in both body and spirit. The only survivor of a roadside bombing, the photojournalist is suffocating under the well-meaning care of his parents. As soon as he's physically able to travel, he convinces his parents to ask their friends, the Knowles, to let him come to their ranch, a land of wide open spaces that he fondly remembers from a visit in his teens. Though he's barely strong enough to lift a feed bucket and is sporting the personality of a wounded bear, he's determined to find a place for himself on the ranch and earn his keep. He never expects to find love.
In this final installment of Moore's Silver Creek trilogy, she's created an emotional story of love, trust, and healing on many levels. She brings the characters to life as well as life on the ranch and left me wanting to book the next flight to California to spend time with these people. I love the vulnerability Quinn hides beneath her tough ranch-girl exterior. She has a huge and kind heart but isn't afraid to stand her ground with man or beast. She's exactly what Ethan needs. And Ethan is exactly what she needs. I love the patience and tenderness he brings to their relationship.
The romance between Quinn and Ethan builds slowly and organically. Beginning with instant animosity, they gradually transition to work-mates then to tentative friendship, simmering desire, and finally, a deep and enduring love. But Ethan has demons to conquer before he can give himself fully to a relationship and Quinn's well-meaning attempt to help him do that could end their relationship for good.
I highly recommend this wonderful novel of family, hope, healing, and love. While Once Touched is the final book in the Silver Creek trilogy, it stands well on its own. However, if you enjoy it as much as I did, you'll probably be seeking out the other two books - Once Temped and Once Tasted - as soon as you finish this one.