Rachel Lee’s Conard County series is a favorite of mine and I was eagerly awaiting this book. While it was not at all a bad one and had several elements I thoroughly enjoyed, it was marred by a heroine who came perilously close to wallowing in self-pity and an absense of chemistry between the hero and heroine. They were both interesting characters, but there was not a great sense of connection between them.
Rafe Ortiz is a DEA agent in Miami. He has spent a long time undercover tying to wrap up a case against the Molina family. During his time undercover, he slept with Raquel Molina who dies at the beginning of the book and names him as the father of her baby. Rafe is left with a newborn baby boy and no idea what to do. When Manny Molina, the baby’s uncle, shows up and starts to talk about how the baby needs to know his family, Rafe takes off to Conard County to look up a newly discovered half-brother of his – Sheriff Nate Tate.
Angela Jaynes has come to Conard County to stay for awhile with her old college roomate Emmaline Dalton and her husband Gage (from the book Miss Emmaline and the Archangel). Angela has quit her job at a bank because the stress was getting to her. Angela has diabetes and must watch her diet carefully, take four insulin shots a days and monitor herself. Because of the stress of the job, she has not done this and is in bad shape. Emma Dalton offers her a place to rest and recover.
When Rafe and the baby get to Conard County, Gage Dalton (who used to work for the DEA) offers them a place to stay in he and Emma’s home and Rafe and Angela meet.
Rafe’s growing love and affection for his infant son and his, at first fumbling, but later skilled care of the little boy are a joy to see. Rafe had come to Conard County to ask Nate and his wife to take care of the baby, but Rafe has bonded with his son, and loves him dearly. There is no way Rafe will give him up and when Manny tracks them to Conard County, things come to a head.
Angela is not very likable. I am not minimizing the problems people with diabetes go through – I have family members who have it – but Angela spent an inordinate amount of time either careless about managing her diabetes or angry at herself or Rafe. She and Rafe don’t really connect and even after they were supposed to have fallen in love with each other, it didn’t ring true.
Even though this was not one of the best books in the series, it’s always a treat to visit Conard County and see old friends again. I was especially happy to have Gage and Emma Daton in this book since Miss Emmaline and The Archangel is a favorite of mine. I only wish Rafe and Angela’s love story had been as compelling as theirs.