Sunday, May 15, 2011

All Is Not As It Appears . . . Catch Her When She Falls by Missy Martine

Serena Dammler is recovering from a savage beating and needs protection. Cowboys and lovers Marc Weller and Tony Estabon are taking jobs as bounty-hunters, and their newest assignment is to capture her attacker and return him to Texas. They take one look at Serena's fragile beauty and decide she'd be the perfect third to their family. Serena's always dreamed of catching herself a rich man, and she'd do just about anything to make that dream come true. She's not going to allow herself to fall in love with her two cowboy protectors, no matter how sexy they are. Marc and Tony want Serena as their third, but they want her love to be real and not based on their bank accounts. So what will it hurt if they take her to a little cabin on their ranch and pretend to be simple cowboys?

Oh my . . . what a cover graphic. Leave it to those folks over at Siren Publishing to put it right out there. Oh well . . .

This is a M/M/F story that centers around Serena, the erstwhile paralegal working for the attorney who represented Cass Abernathy's uncle and was executor of his estate. Serena was a very mixed up young lady, growing up in Mountain Vista, OR and having the misfortune of being the step-daughter of a man who cared little for her, especially after her mother died. She was also mistreated and sexually abused by her step-brothers and they systematically dismantled her reputation. She really had not place of safety and was looking to Matt & David, Cass's husbands, to be a protection for her. In her envy that Cass was walking away with the men she had hoped to snag for herself, Serena made a very foolish phone call to Cass' ex-husband, now on parole. When Eric arrived in Mountain Vista and couldn't find Cass, he descended on the law office where Serena worked and beat her to a pulp, believing she was withholding information he wanted.

Coming to Mountain Vista had effectively violated his parole, so the Houston PD hired two former DEA agents who sometimes worked at bounty hunters. Marc and Tony were former partners with the DEA but they were also lovers of long standing. In the course of their search for Eric, they found Serena, now hospitalized with her injuries, and it became almost immediately apparent that she was possibly their "third"-- the woman they had both been seeking to complete their relationship. They decided to take Serena into "protective custody", telling her that Eric was on the prowl for her (which wasn't true) and that they were cowhands at a ranch in Texas (they certainly lived on a ranch in Texas but they weren't cowhands, but the owners of the spread). They did this for two reasons: 1) they had heard the rumors that Serena was expressly seeking a rich husband and would do anything to snag one in order to get out of Mountain Vista; and 2) they had often had women try to entrap them in relationships because of their bank accounts and not out of true regard or affection.

Of course we know where lying gets us, especially in intimate relationships. And so the fireworks began.

This story really is about these two fascinating and very humorous and extremely caring men setting out to convince Serena that they could all be together, that she was worthy of their love, and that her heart was always safe with them--that they would always "catch her when she fell." They knew of her trust issues but couldn't figure out any other way to snare her except by fudging on their identity and assets, and to keep from her the fact that Eric had been in custody almost immediately after arriving in Oregon. Yet their love and regard for her was genuine, and as she accepted their kindnesses and their open affection, her attitude toward herself began to change, and her own sense of empowerment began to blossom.

I love stories where the power of love can bring out the best in one or more of the characters. I think here Serena was the big winner, but don't count out the fact that Marc and Tony felt complete in a way that had not been true when it was just the two of them. They loved each other with a forever kind of love, but Serena brought that added dimension that seemed to "fill in the cracks" in a very special way that was almost beyond words to express.

This is a truly warm and winsome love story and yet it packs a powerful message. I think not only Martine fans will like this book, but those who love to read romance that warms the heart. I give this novel a rating of 4 out of 5.

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