Love Me Tender
Caribou Crossing # 4
Caribou Crossing # 4
By: Susan Fox
Releasing December 2nd, 2014
Zebra / Kensington
Pay a visit to Caribou Crossing, the rustic, inviting Western town where broken hearts mend and new love takes root…
Dave Cousins, owner of the Wild Rose Inn, is known throughout Caribou Crossing as the nicest—and loneliest—guy in town. He’s had his heart broken more than once, and he’s determined not to let it happen again. So it’s no wonder he’s wary when a free-spirited drifter leaves him longing for more than just a steamy fling…
Like the wild goose tattooed on her shoulder, Cassidy Esperanza goes wherever the wind takes her. For her, a new day means a fresh start. And yet something about her days in Caribou Crossing—and nights with its handsome hotel owner—makes her think about staying a while. But when life takes an unexpected turn, her first instinct is to take flight once more. Is Dave strong enough to help them both face their fears, come to terms with the past, and believe that sometimes love truly can last a lifetime?
Cassidy studied Dave’s profile. The Wild Rose parking lot was illuminated only by security lights, but there was enough light to see that the tense line of his jaw had relaxed.
She lowered the window on the passenger side. The nights had warmed up since she’d arrived in Caribou Crossing, but the air still had a refreshing touch of coolness.
He drove out of the parking lot. It was only four blocks to Ms. H’s house. Should she leave the poor guy alone? Usually, when she could tell that his thoughts had gone to a dark place, she tried to cheer him up. But that was like sticking a bandage on a wound that wasn’t healing. It was obvious he was stuck. She’d bet everything she owned—which wasn’t much, but did include the battered Winnie-the-Pooh that Gramps had given her when she was a toddler—that Anita would hate to see Dave like this.
And so did she.
She clicked off the radio. “The gossip mill thinks you’re dating Sally.”
His jaw clenched again and he didn’t speak.
“They think the two of you are taking it slow but likely will end up together.” Though he seemed to be trying to ignore her, she went on. “Some people aren’t sure if that’s a good thing.”
“Huh?” He cast a quick glance in her direction. “Everyone’s been after me to date. Now they don’t think it’s a good thing?”
“It’s Sally. No one dislikes her, but they don’t know her. She holds herself apart.” Maybe it was shyness, but it made the woman hard to relate to.
He snorted. “Seems to me there’s something to be said for that. As compared to being a busybody.”
She chuckled. “I refuse to take offense. People mind each other’s business because they care.” And she did care about Dave Cousins. He’d become a friend and she wanted him to be happy. To unstick himself, loosen up, let that dimple break free. To lighten up on being so protective of his daughter, his inn, anyone and anything he cared for. To have fun.
To have sex, for God’s sake! With her, preferably.
When he didn’t respond, she urged, “Think about it. Let’s take—oh, how about Mr. Dave Cousins, for example?”
He shook his head, clearly confused. “What are you on about now?”
“He could mind his own business and leave Sally alone, struggling to keep things going since her husband died. But no, he pokes his nose in, helps her out every week.”
“And he gives Madisun Joe a summer job.”
“Madisun’s a damned fine employee.”
“Absolutely. But she’s going back to university in the fall, which means Dave’ll have to hire and train another assistant manager, or do without. And, let’s see, he gives Karen a huge discount on her wedding reception, and—”
“It’s my wedding present to her and Jamal.”
“Of course it is. Then there’s the way he gives his staff extra time off when they have family issues to deal with, or how there always happens to be a seniors special when Mr. Bertuzzi comes for a meal. Or remember last month, how he hired this drifter who turned up on his doorstep, and fronted her the first two weeks’ pay so she could find a place to stay?”
While she’d been talking, Dave had pulled the Jeep up in front of Ms. H’s green rancher, with its neatly kept garden. He didn’t turn off the engine. “Good night, Cassidy.”
Undeterred, she said, “It’s good to get involved with people, to try to help those you care about—the way you do, and the way I’m trying to, if you’d let me.”
“I don’t need help, damn it.”
“Did Sally say the same thing when you first messed around in her life?”
His mouth, which had been tight with anger, opened in a silent “oh.”
Point made. “You care about everyone else, but you need to care more about yourself.” She touched his arm below the rolled-up sleeve of his white shirt. “Dave, you’re stuck and you’re not doing anything to fix yourself.”
His Adam’s apple worked as he swallowed. He stared down at her hand, which she didn’t remove. Finally he lifted his arm, shut off the Jeep engine, then put his hand back on the steering wheel. When he spoke, the words grated out. “Fine, I’m stuck. But I get through every day. That’s the best I can do.”
She’d felt that way once—when Gramps had died, her parents had split up for the second time, and her father had barely noticed she was alive. JJ had thrown himself into activities with his buddies, but she’d withdrawn. She’d gotten through each day, counting them until she could break free and strike out into the world. The solution for Dave Cousins clearly wasn’t to go explore the world, because that would mean leaving everyone and everything he loved, but he did deserve a happier life.
I have found a new series! While it is not necessary to read the previous books in the series, I think I would have enjoyed it even more if I was familiar with Dave as well as the supporting cast. That said, there is enough background provided so that you aren't wondering who everyone is.
I feel that Dave and Cassidy complimented each other perfectly. Cassidy made him feel alive again after suffering a devastating loss, and Dave shows Cassidy what love and home really is. Like the title suggests, this book is full of tender and romantic moments, as well as some sexy ones. I'm looking forward to reading the previous books as well as the next one!
Award-winning, international best-selling author Susan Fox (who also writes as Savanna Fox and Susan Lyons) is a Pacific Northwester with homes in Victoria and Vancouver, British Columbia. She has degrees in law and psychology, and has had a variety of careers, including perennial student, computer consultant, and legal editor. Fiction writer is by far her favorite, giving her an outlet to demonstrate her belief in the power of love, friendship, and a sense of humor. Visit her at her website.