SHAMELESS – Joan Johnston
A Bitter Creek Novel,  #14
ISBN: 978-0-804-17868-6
January 2015
Contemporary Romance

Jackson Hole, Wyoming - Present Day

Nineteen year old Philippa Grayhawk and her father, Matt, moved from Australia to America to live on the family ranch in Wyoming.  Now living in the same house with her grandfather and Matt's four stepsisters, Pippa and her father are faced with a black cloud of resentment and suspicion.  Matt recently informed the women that their time on the ranch is limited now that he is taking over.  Matt intends to make a new home for himself and Pippa.  He hopes his daughter can start again after a devastating love affair with a married man left her pregnant and unwed…and the reason they left Australia.  Her pregnancy is a condition Pippa is determined to hide as long as possible, rather than face the judgmental censure from her new family that she did in Australia.   Matt knows she needs a mother in her life now more than ever, but first he has to figure out how to undo the lies he's told.  Pippa believes her mother died, and somehow, Matt must find a way to tell her the truth.  Not only is Jennifer alive, Matt is still in love with her.  And even though it will be hard to tell Pippa the truth, it will be even more difficult to tell Jennie that the child she birthed nineteen years ago is alive, and now pregnant!

Neighbor Devon Flynn remembers when Matt Grayhawk left Wyoming.  Devon was only eight years old to Matt's seventeen, but he'd heard rumors; then Matt just disappeared, and no one, not even his family, knew where he went.  Now, Matt's back with a daughter who had to have been the reason Matt ran away.  But why?  When Devon meets Pippa out on the range, he feels a strong connection to this beautiful young woman.  And Pippa feels the same, but she's leery.  Their friendship grows as they continually run into each other while out riding.  But there is one big problem:  Devon Flynn is the son of Angus, her grandfather's enemy.

No longer trusting her ability to judge a man's character, Pippa pushes Devon away and continues to delay telling him about her pregnancy.  Finally, an argument with Matt sends her running straight into Devon's arms.  She tells him she wants only friendship, and he allows her to stay on his ranch and help him with his menagerie of rescued animals.  Pippa is delighted that she and Devon have the same affinity for animals, and as the days pass, she knows she must tell him about her pregnancy.

SHAMELESS is the fourteenth novel in the Bitter Creek series, and Book #2 in the mini-series, The King's Brats, following SINFUL, May 2015.  Please see the author's website, for details about all the books.  Set in the present, SHAMELESS tells the story of the prodigal son, Matt, who's burdened with secrets galore!  Although SHAMELESS stands alone, I advise reading SINFUL first.  This is the first of the present day Bitter Creek novels I've read, and I felt just a bit lost, having missed several pertinent details found in SINFUL.

Still, SHAMELESS is a novel you cannot pass up! With wonderful characterization and full of drama and passion, it's a great winter read!

Diana Risso