For Keeps by Rachel Lacey is the second book in the Love To The Rescue series and it is a really good read. This book has it all: romance, family loyalty, second chances, animal rescue and forgiveness all blended together into a great read.
Merry Atwater runs an animal rescue shelter for boxers, She will do whatever it takes to find these dogs their forever homes. She is also a nurse who works in pediatrics, and has seen some very heartbreaking things. And Merry has a heartbreaking event in her own past, the loss of a child. That is probably why she is such a good nurse and animal advocate. She could not save her own child so she is making up for that by saving others.
The rescue that she owns is in financial trouble. She does not have enough money to pay the bills from month to month. She has to find a way to raise more money for the shelter and she will do whatever it takes to keep the rescue afloat. So when she receives an offer to do dog therapy for a summer camp held at a nearby ranch, she accepts the job, even though she does not get along with the ranch owner.
TJ Jameson is conducting a camp for disabled children at his ranch. His main reason for doing this is his autistic nephew, Noah. He is hoping that a month of horse therapy and dog therapy will help his nephew become more confident and verbal. He only wants purebred dogs to be involved because he has a fear of mutts. He was attacked by stray dogs when he was younger and he does not trust dogs that no one knows the history of. After much arguing and disagreeing, TJ and Merry come to an agreement about her working at the camp with her foster dogs. Somehow she even talks TJ into fostering a dog for the month. After TJ sees how well his nephew has bonded with Amber, he has to agree to foster the dog.
TJ and Merry do not really get along at all. TJ thinks that Merry is too girly-girly and will not be able to pull her own weight at the camp. Merry things that there must be something wrong with TJ because he is not a dog-lover. Also TJ is looking for someone that he can settle down with and raise a family with. Merry does not plan to ever settle down and get married, she just wants to enjoy the moment. But as they get to know each other better, these opinions begin to change and they see each other in a different light. And neither can deny the sexual chemistry that surrounds them. But it will not be an easy road to build anything permanent between them, and in fact it may be impossible.
The characters are well developed, well rounded and three dimensional. They seem very realistic and have many human traits that we can all identify with. The pediatric patients that Merry takes care of and Noah and the children at the camp are portrayed as very real and are very easy to fall in love with. And the dogs and horse just added another level of adorableness to this book.
The writing style flows smoothly and the book is an easy read. The author is very talented and is able to bring the setting and characters to life with just her written words and descriptions. The romance between Merry and TJ became hot and steamy but the best part of the book, in my opinion, is the interaction between all the characters and the the animals. It is a heartwarming story that at times had me laughing and at other times had tears in my eyes. I think that is not an easy thing to do but Rachel Lacey did that masterfully.
I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a romance book that has so much more. I do not think that a young adult should read this book because of the steaminess. This is the second book that I have read by this author and I thought they were both fantastic (the first book I read was the first book in the series, Unleashed). So do yourself a favor and pick up both books in the series and enjoy.
I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I would like to thank NetGalley and Forever (Grand Central Publishing) for the opportunity to read and review this book.