Sheltered in His Arms is a spin-off from Tara Taylor Quinn’s Superromance trilogy Shelter Valley Stories, but you don’t need to have read the preceding books to enjoy this one. I hadn’t, and I enjoyed this story very much.
Cassie Tate is a woman scorned, and you know what they say about that kind of woman. She’s been stoking and simmering her anger towards her ex-husband for years, and she’s got plenty of fury to unleash given the right circumstances. Over a decade ago, her husband, the perfect Sam Montford, cheated on her and then left town. As a result of his betrayal, Cassie had a breakdown and lost everything of value to her, including her dreams of a stable family life and children. But in time she picked herself up, dusted herself off, and pursued different dreams. She’s now a successful veterinarian who specializes in pet therapy. She’s made something of her life and established a peaceful, if not fulfilling, existence without Sam. So she’s not happy to hear that he’s back in town.
Sam left town all those years ago because he couldn’t handle all of the expectations that were being placed on him. He’d always been the Shelter Valley golden boy, and he was smothering under the pressure. So he committed a one-time, highly regretted indiscretion and then left town because he wanted to make it easier for Cassie to get over him. But he’s never stopped loving her. Now Sam has a new daughter, Mariah. Mariah recently lost her parents – Sam’s best friends – in very tragic circumstances, and as a result she doesn’t speak. Sam comes back to his hometown hoping that the town and his relatives will create a better environment for Mariah to heal. And while he’s there, he decides he will do anything in his power to make things right with Cassie.
In many ways this story revolves around Mariah. Cassie is only willing to get involved with Sam to help his daughter. She thinks that pet therapy might reach her. In this way the themes of trust and communication are woven between the characters. As Mariah learns to trust again, so does Cassie. This was deftly done and very touching. Also, in this slow way, we get to know Sam as a man of character and integrity – which is a little surprising considering the slimy thing he once did to Cassie.
It is to Quinn’s credit that I was able to like this adultery plot. Usually these are anathema to me. I hate the philandering hero; he’s almost never likable or reliable. But Quinn took her time with Sam, showing the multiple facets to his personality and exposing his innate trustworthiness. By the end there is no doubt that he is ready to be both a good husband and father.
My only problem with the book is that the ending was just a little too neat, sweet and perfect. I was so powerfully affected by the resolution of the situation with Sam’s daughter Mariah, that the resolution of the love story suffered a bit in comparison.
The overall reading experience of Sheltered in His Arms was very good. I liked both Sam and Cassie and enjoyed my introduction to Shelter Valley. Tara Taylor Quinn is a new author to me, but I’ve got some of her books in the TBR. I think I’ll go dig them out now.
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