Reviewer: Robyn Roberts
Title: Here to Stay - A Harrigan Family Novel (not previously published)
Author: Catherine Anderson
Release Date: February 2011
Genre/Sub-genre: Contemporary Romance
Year/Setting: Present day, Crystal Falls
Overall Rating: 4.5
Sexual Content Rating: Subtle
Language (Profanity/Slang) Content Rating: Mild
Violent Content Rating: None
Catherine's Website: www.catherineanderson.com
Zach Harrigan is the hellion of his family. He works hard on his horse ranch, but parties harder. After more meaningless encounters and drunken brawls than he can count, Zach realizes he feels empty. He’d like to give back somehow…and he stumbles into an idea that might work for him. He wants to train guide horses. They are miniature horses trained (like a guide dog) to assist the blind. After a couple years of learning how to train a guide animal, he has started training a miniature horse, Rosebud. When the media picks up on his unique service animal, his family doesn’t know what to think. First off, they have to poke fun at him—it’s what brother’s do.
Mandy Pajeck also sees the spot on the news about the guide horses. She is a virtual slave to her brother, who became blind six years prior. Her childhood was rough with an abusive father, a mother who abandoned them to this abuse, and trying to protect her little brother, Luke, from all the horrors of the abuse. Luke needs help to get around, but won’t consider a guide dog because he was attacked by a dog when younger and is terrified of them now. When Mandy sees Zach and the guide horse, Rosebud, on TV, she knows she has to make sure Luke gets Rosebud.
The sneaky way Mandy arranges to meet Luke charmed my socks off. The girl has grit to go with her brains. She is totally devoted to her brother and since the two of them are all the family they have, she knows she can convince Zach to let Luke purchase the horse when training is complete.
From there the story really takes off. Zach has some issues that are deep and unresolved. That really clouds his opinions about Mandy and Luke. I wasn’t sure at first if this would end up being their romance—it looked like he was going to push her away for good. But a few spitfire moments from Mandy woke me (and Zach) up. From then on, I knew they just had to be together.
You can’t help but loving Zach. He’s a good-looking cowboy with a horse ranch and because of his wild past, he has a deeper level of calm. Pair him with Mandy, a totally devoted family girl who becomes a hellion of her own when pushed too far and you have a match made in Heaven.
I wouldn’t call this story a mystery, but there were some questions that nagged at me throughout the entire book. Finally, the same questions began to nag at Zach and he does go searching for answers. I was glad to see that very subtle thread in the storyline get addressed. Won’t tell you what happens, but wanted you to know that if things nag at you while reading the story, eventually it will hit Zach, too.
I saw on Catherine Anderson’s site that Luke’s story might be told at a later date. Here’s hoping!
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