Angel Martinez has worked patiently for months to draw the fragile beauty out of her shell, wooing her with gentle kindness and falling for her delightful two-year-old in the process. She can barely handle one. Now she has two Martinez brothers after her. Can she forget the past and fall for both her heavenly Angel and his handsome, devilish brother?
This third story in the Divine Creek Ranch series brings together two people who have been greatly injured by life and by people who they initially trusted. Teresa was a single mother who worked in the local department store to support herself and her son. She barely made ends meet, but she was a responsible woman and a hard-working provider, and she managed to keep her head low so that the father of her son didn't find her. While they weren't married at the time of her pregnancy and while he essentially threw her "under the bus" as unworthy of marriage, his family were a danger to her and had already threatened to take her son away, citing their wealth and prominence socially as having greater weight in family court. Thus, when Angel Martinez began to show definite interest in her, Teresa backed away for months, in spite of her attraction to Angel and in spite of her trust that he would never hurt her.
Angel Martinez was a complicated man who worked hard as the ranch foreman on the Divine Creek Ranch and who was tired of being used and hurt by the women he trusted and brought into his life. His last girlfriend was running around on him constantly during the last six months of their relationship even while she was living with Angel and sleeping in his bed. He finally told her to move along and even moved all her things to a friend's house where she was staying temporarily. In a fit of anger at being dislodged from her domicile-- she was more upset at losing the roof over her head than losing Angel--she came to The Dancing Pony Club where she knew Angel had gone that night, and shot him along with one of the owners of the Club who had shown her the door earlier. It was during his hospital stay that he and Teresa began to become closer friends but she still would not admit to having any romantic feelings toward Angel. Angel, however, wore her down and they became a couple, but their physical involvement was not immediate. Angel determined that he would build their friendship and trust between them before they ever hit the sheets. The development of the menage configuration in their "family" came a bit later in Teresa and Angel's affair. Both Angel and Joaquin were born into a polyamorous family--they had the same mother with multiple fathers. Thus this kind of family configuration did not seem unusual to them. But it was a real stretch for Teresa--very conservative Hispanic Catholic upbringing--and she really struggled at having strong romantic feelings and attraction to two men.
This is not a simple "boy meets girl" novel. Rather, it is the merging of two lives that had been upended by distrust, jeolousy, and disrespect. In some ways it is painful to watch Teresa trying so hard to find a way to be happy. Her fear for herself and her son, for their future together in the face of his father's family and their threats, is worrisome, and as a reader who really got drawn into the emotion in this story, I felt that kind of dread we feel when we are worried that a mother and child will be separated by cruelty or evil obsession. The author has also not backed away from the ethnic issues that affected both Angel and Teresa. In a part of the United States where there has been Hispanic presence almost from the beginning of our country, there is still tremendous prejudice and it is a burden most Anglos can't even imagine having to handle.
My observation about this author's writing and her story development is that she is more apt to bring in challenges from outside a love relationship rather than a lot of conflict between the lovers. In this story there was lots of emotional baggage from past relationships, but once these two main characters admitted and acted on their attraction, their love bloomed and grew into a beautiful connection that gave safety and security to both Teresa and her son. And because Angel was connected to the Divine Creek Ranch, all the people who had been a part of that friendship circle became a sort of family for Teresa and her son. Angel's brother Joaquin entered the relationship almost unexpectedly--a Christmas visit, love at first sight, an almost immediate sense that destiny had brought them together, and now they were three. Teresa's son Michael absolutely adored both his dads and for the first time since Michael's birth, Teresa truly began to believe that she would be surrounded with love, care, and safety.
I liked this book a lot and found the romance to be very erotic and heart-warming. The solid nature of Angel's love for Teresa was the significant factor in grounding Joaquin and moving him from the happy rodeo stud to a man who desired to claim a place in Teresa's life and who wanted to be a source of security and happiness for himself and for her and her son. It also brought these t wo brothers back into the close relationship they had once shared before Joaquin decided to live the transcient life of a rodeo cowboy. There's lots to like here for the lover of erotic romance fiction. And Ms Rainier is really a very good writer and should be congratulated on her ability to craft a series of love stories that really "make the heart glad." I give this novel a rating of 4 out of 5.