ONCE TEMPTED – Laura Moore
A Silver Creek Novel , Book 1
Ballantine Books
ISBN: 978-0-341-553698-3
April 2013
Contemporary Romance

Acacia, California, the Present

Tess Casari once thought she had found her life's companion, but shortly after a rushed wedding, her husband changed. Gone was his charm and kindness, and then he was just gone . Tess began to realize he'd married her as a slam to his wealthy parents. She'd begun to get him out of her system when she got a call that David was in a hospital in Boston waiting to undergo surgery to remove a brain tumor. Tess got to his bedside in time to see him and hear his last two words to her. Next she saw him he was in a deep coma. She met his parents for the first time; they were less than kind to her, even insulting. Yet she remained beside David until the end….and not for the puzzling bribe Mr. Bradford forced upon her. Yes, she took the check, but she set it up as a fund to pay for the care of her institutionalized brother Christopher.

The whole episode left a bad taste in her mouth and she wants to get far away from the Bradfords and all the bad feelings. With the help of a friend—and the hand of chance—she chooses a small town in California as her destination. She barely makes it to Acacia after a long, grueling trip in a newly purchased used car. (As a New Yorker, Tess had never owned a car.) Tess eventually finds a job where her experience as an event planner comes in handy.

Tess is happy in her job as assistant to Adele Knowles who, with her husband, owns the Silver Creek guest ranch. They have a family of two sons and a daughter who help run the ranch. All of them, as well as the people in town, have been very welcoming…except for the eldest son, Ward Knowles. Their first meeting was a rocky one, neither impressing the other…except in some annoying physical way. In spite of this and her discomfort around the ranch animals, Tess, the city girl, begins to fit in.

ONCE TEMPTED is a lovely, heartwarming book with many likable, well developed characters, both two and four legged. There is humor in the challenges Tess has with nature, and in the way Ward likes to pull her chain. But naturally, there must be conflict in every good story, and a serious one is provided by someone from Ward's past. And maybe from Tess's?

Get in at the start of Ms. Moore's happy new series with the highly enjoyable ONCE TEMPTED.

Jane Bowers