Type: Contemporary Western Romance
Buy at Amazon
Reviewer: Pistol Annie
Rating: 5 Stars
The youngest of the three Knowles siblings, Quinn has in her blood the love of the land and its beautiful creatures. Raising enough money to build an animal sanctuary is a dream Quinn lives every day—while fending off her family’s well-intentioned matchmaking schemes. Though harboring secret fears about intimacy, Quinn soon realizes she cannot fight her growing attraction to a man who has suddenly entered her life.
Scarred by his months in Afghanistan and the violence he witnessed there through his camera lens, photojournalist Ethan Saunders throws himself into hard ranching work as a prescription for healing. But falling for Quinn has given him the one thing he thought he’d lost forever: hope. Ethan discovers that Quinn, like the innocent animals she rescues, is shy, and afraid of entrusting her heart to a man. Passion soon awakens Ethan’s strength, and his tender seduction may be just what Quinn needs to believe in herself—and in his love.
NOTE: This is the third book in the Silver Creek Trilogy, set on the Knowles Family Guest Ranch in Northern California. Although I highly recommend reading all three, Once Touched can easily be read as a standalone.
Every reader has their list of favorite authors. It was in the early 1990s when I was browsing the racks in my favorite used bookstore and picked up a book titled IN YOUR EYES by an unknown to me author. After that one book, Laura Moore immediately became one of mine favorites. Call it “love at first read” because I was hooked and searching for any backlist of other books by her. From that point on, I simply fell in love with all her characters. Laura is a lover of all animals – and you’ll always find them included in her books. I’ve happily and greedily read every one to date. She’s a terrific storyteller and her writing is always flawless and the words flow beautifully. I love that her vocabulary knows no boundaries. There is never a web of repetitiveness, which happens to be one of my biggest pet peeves when I read. Her stories always touch every one of my requirements for the “feels” as a reader in every way. In addition, there’s always the feeling that I get a little learning experience on some new and interesting subject with each one. Quite simply, this author has that special and unique talent for bringing a story and its characters to life.
She has written the perfect ending for this outstanding 3-book series. I LOVED IT – from start to finish. As a writer, Laura Moore proves that the difference in a good story and an outstanding one is the attention to details and she is a pro at details. And now, with hints of what she intends to send our way next, I’m already sweating the wait.
Once Touched is a meaningful blend of love on different levels intertwined throughout a family’s legacy. Within the pages, you’ll not only find great relationships and romance beautifully portrayed, but you’ll experience the day-to-day life with the closely-knit Knowles family as they live and work together on their ranch and spa resort. In addition, the setting adds an extra layer of beauty in its naturalistic and vivid presentation of a working ranch where daughter Quinn’s beloved animal sanctuary also resides. The Knowles, alongside those who live on and work the land every day, all play an integral and important part in the Silver Springs Creek family and their stories.
From the first book in this series, I settled into the idea that Quinn Knowles would one day find herself a cowboy and ride off into the sunset for her happily-ever-after. I believed that Josh Yates was going to be that cowboy! This author always seems to have a little trick up her sleeve, and that’s exactly what happened here when the rug was pulled out from underneath me with the arrival of a special surprise guest on the doorsteps of Silver Springs Ranch. It was evident from the minute that Ethan Saunders arrived that Josh was about to meet some stiff competition. I very much enjoyed the standoffs and the “territorial” dialogue exchanged between these two guys. Lots of witty banter and funny interactions ensued. In the end, I only hoped that it all would work out and that everyone would find their own brand of happiness. Nobody would be marked as the bad guy. And I wanted that quirky secondary character named Maebeth, who certainly deserved a “Leo,” to find her happy-ever-after as well. (Read this book and you’ll meet Maebeth and see what I mean for yourself!)
Quinn, with her spunky attitude and heart of gold, stole my heart from the very beginning. She is such a multi-layered young woman. Both Josh and Ethan kept me hooked with their individual qualities and special blend of maleness as well. Which one would win the heart of the sweet (but sometimes stubborn) and lovable Quinn? I think the defining moment for me was when a certain someone barfed in the potted plant! My admiration and respect for him grew more and more as I read on.
The relationship between Quinn and Ethan was wrapped in heart and soul. His understanding and acceptance of Quinn’s fur family shined brightly. The way he found his place interacting among her beloved animal friends (especially those little goats) was such a special treat to read. And, of course, Quinn most certainly was the one to soothe and mend the broken man Ethan was when he arrived at Silver Creek. Though somewhat battered and weary, but with a strong will and passion, knowing exactly how to proceed slowly and gently, Ethan proved he was the best man to love and tenderly guide an inexperienced Quinn through unchartered territory. These two were the perfectly written Ying and Yang!
Quinn got her happily-ever-after with exactly the right guy for her. And together they make up my favorite couple among the Silver Creek gang — and I’ve loved each one of the other characters. But there’s just something a little extra special about these two that pulls at the heartstrings. They seem so real and passionate about life and what it means to give back – pay it forward so to speak. As I mentioned above — just the whole “heart and soul” feel.
And Cowboy Josh – well, he’s one cute and sweet guy that didn’t falter. He put one boot in front of the other and made a sweet deal of his own. It was surprise and I had it all wrong from the onset. But once you read the whole story, Josh just didn’t have his whole heart in the relationship with Quinn. I was happy with the road he followed and glad he stayed true to his good guy routine.
The tribute to the military running through this story is a wonderful and extraordinary addition. Whenever stories of a soldier being reunited with his BFF (in this case “Best Furry Friend”) are shown in the news, I’m an emotional mess. Bowie’s story was no different. He was very much a star character. Animal rescue of any type earns my admiration and certainly holds a special place in my heart.
Once Touched is a genuine “feel good” love story. I was totally captivated. Suffice to say that my eyes watered and a few tears rolled down my cheeks. I’m sad to say good-bye to the Knowles family, their beloved Silver Creek Ranch and the entire cast of wonderful characters — both the human and the furry variety.
If you’ve never read a book by Laura Moore, I recommend you try one soon.