War is never beautiful. Neither are the consequences of war. It tears families apart leaving behind shards of a broken life. Some are lucky enough to go over the other side with minimum consequences, yet some are not strong enough to weather the remnants of a nightmare they endure day in day out, to give us a blanket of protection and peace.
Catherine Mann’s “Shelter Me”, a first in her new series, Second Chance Ranch, takes us up close and personal to the McDaniels, a military family dealing with the death of a son, father and a husband, Allen McDaniel. Nestled in the sunny fields of Tennessee, the McDaniel family runs a Second Chance Rescue., an operation that borders on bankruptcy and strong opposition from some neighbors.
Into this storm come two arrivals, Trooper, the fallen General’s special war dog and his guardian, Staff Sergeant Mike Kowalski. For the latter, it is a bittersweet reunion with his one-time sweetheart Sierra and for Sierra, seeing Mike again brings forth all the memories of a love that was cut short. Thrown together in taking care of the ranch, they rediscover each other, stoking the embers into a flame of love.
Catherine is very eloquent portraying the feelings of a family going through pain and loss and dealing with them. From an Alzheimer grandfather to a rebellious teenager Nathan to a war widow Lacey to a young Sierra trying to hold everything together, “Shelter Me” explores the trials and tribulations of a family who lost more than just a family member. It brings out the desperation of a wife who lost her very soul at war, a teenage boy who misses his father and does not know how to handle the grief, and a grandfather who swings between reality and forgetfulness and a daughter who puts aside her dreams to hold her family together.
“Shelter Me” is also the story of Trooper who plays a silent role taking the fallen General’s place through his own humorous point of view. I loved the way each member was given page-time for us to understand their feelings of guilt, insecurities and frustrations. It takes us on an emotional journey of loss, love and second chances, and that things will fall into place as they are meant to be. And oh my! The epilogue was ultra sweet and poignant and leaves you so very happy!
This is a great start to a new series, and I can’t wait to read about Lacey and Nathan, who hopefully get their own HEAs.