RESCUE ME - Catherine Mann
Second Chance Ranch , Book 2
Berkley Sensation
ISBN: 978-0-425-26989-3
February 2015
Contemporary Romance

Cooksburg, Tennessee - Present Day

Christmas Eve should be a time for fun and family, but for A.J. Parker, it means busting a meth house that was also breeding puppies for supplemental income.  He'd hoped that leaving behind his work as an undercover narcotics cop in Atlanta for a small Tennessee town would remove him from this type of bust, but apparently small towns aren't quite the haven he'd hoped for.

Mary Hannah Gallo uses both her work as a counselor and her volunteering at the Second Chance Rescue operation to atone for the mistakes in her past.  Unfortunately, during a rescue, she's reminded of her most recent mistake: A.J.  The one night they spent together was amazing, but when Mary Hannah lets that wild side out she tends to make some not so good choices, so she's doing her best to avoid A.J. and temptation.

Yet when they get thrown together to train one of the rescue dogs for an upcoming competition, Mary Hannah and A.J. are forced to spend time with each other, as well as confront the attraction that still simmers between them.  It doesn't help that the dog that they've named Holly seems as intent on getting them together as many of their friends do.  But will they feel the same about one another when the secrets of their pasts are revealed?

Two people haunted by their pasts reluctantly come together in RESCUE ME.  A.J. is on the edge of being burned out in his career, and the move to Tennessee was supposed to make things better.  Something about the dog that he helped Mary Hannah rescue calls to him, and when it's recommended that he take on the training of an emotional support dog in order to avoid psychiatric evaluation by the department, A.J. agrees.  Mary Hannah helps to train service, support, and therapy dogs, and winning the competition that the Second Chance Ranch is entered in will go a long way in helping the programs she's involved in.  So, even though she knows it would be best for her to stay away from A.J., Mary Hannah can't say no, especially when the dog is Holly.

In addition to seeing the story from both A.J. and Mary Hannah's perspectives, we also are treated to Holly's point of view.  A four-year old boxer whose entire life has consisted of being chained up in a meth house, with abuse a constant unless she's breeding, which is followed up with her puppies disappearing too soon, Holly has had just as rough a life as her human companions.

The second book in the Second Chance Ranch series also brings back the members of the McDaniels family, who own the ranch.  Lacey is a forty-four year old widow, still a bit in mourning over the death of her husband two years earlier, in spite of her romance with A.J.'s cousin and partner, Wyatt.  With the arrival of her pregnant daughter, Sierra, and son-in-law, Mike (from SHELTER ME), Lacey is again facing a future without her husband, while dealing with some changes and stress in her relationship with Wyatt. Fans of the series will enjoy getting to catch up with the familiar characters, but overall RESCUE ME stands well on its own and is an enjoyable romance about second chances.

Jennifer Bishop