Cleo Delaney will do anything to keep her promise and raise her best friend’s sons—even if it means telling a little white lie to the state to keep them. So Cleo turns to the only person she can trust to help her—her first love, Judd Laramie. If he fosters the three young brothers in name only, she’ll do all the heavy lifting. It’s a foolproof plan…but she never imagined that the feelings they once shared would return. With a vengeance.
Texas deputy Judd Laramie is stunned by Cleo’s request. Being a dad—even on paper—is the last thing this cowboy needs right now. But no one knows better than Judd how flawed the foster system is and how much these brothers need Cleo’s protective love. What starts as a simple lie becomes so much more, and soon it’s clear Judd needs Cleo and the family they’ve created as much as they need him. Now he’ll do whatever it takes to win Cleo’s heart and claim the future they all deserve.
Cleo Delaney is the kind of woman I’d love to have as a friend. Funny, feisty, and loyal to a fault, she’s the person you’d call in a pinch. She’s also the perfect person to wrangle her friend Miranda’s three orphaned sons. Her promise to Miranda coupled with her love of the boys made me really want to root for her to gain custody. Her business partner, Daisy, was an amusing addition as well, always supporting Cleo and helping to guide her in the right direction.
Judd Laramie is one hot cowboy deputy. In addition to being Judd the Stud, he’s also an upstanding man with a history of alcoholism. I think that his sobriety is approached in a realistic way with real worries. His sponsor, Mercy, was one of the brightest spots of the book. Although she was a little over the top, she was often needed comic relief. Judd’s relationship with Cleo as well as with the boys was sweet and heartfelt, but I wish he’d have stepped up sooner. There were a ton of opportunities, but he never did. I have no doubt he was probably feeling cut out of the situation as well as doubting his ability to help due to his past, but he really could have said, “Wait, I want to help!” long before he actually did. That said, the way he reached out to Beckham was wonderful. He saw a lot of himself in the kid and it showed.
As a parent, the blurb caught me hook, line, and sinker. Who can resist three young boys who have not only lost their mother but are also about to be thrown into foster care because their only living relative doesn’t want them? The way Cleo, Judd, and the entire Laramie clan came together to keep these boys together was truly heart-warming. Although this is only my second book by this author, it’s definitely not going to be my last. She’s proven to me that she can write varied and enjoyable romance novels with characters that are not just likable, but relatable as well.
*Thanks to Netgalley, the author, and the publisher for an e-ARC in exchange for a fair review.