Friday, August 17, 2018

Thoughts: Holding On

Holding On

by Pamela Clare
Book 6 of Colorado High Country

~ Goodreads ~

Rating:  4.0 Stars

A hero barely holding on…

Harrison Conrad returned to Scarlet Springs from Nepal, the sole survivor of a freak accident on Mt. Everest. Shattered and grieving for his friends, he vows never to climb again and retreats into a bottle of whiskey—until Kenzie Morgan shows up at his door with a tiny puppy asking for his help. He’s the last person in the world she should ask to foster this little furball. He’s barely capable of managing his own life right now, let alone caring for a helpless, adorable, fluffy puppy. But Conrad has always had a thing for Kenzie with her bright smile and sweet curves. One look into her pleading blue eyes, and he can’t say no.

The woman who won’t let him fall…

Kenzie Morgan’s life went to the dogs years ago. A successful search dog trainer and kennel owner, she gets her fill of adventure volunteering for the Rocky Mountain Search & Rescue Team. The only thing missing from her busy life is love. It’s not easy finding Mr. Right in a small mountain town, especially when she’s unwilling to date climbers. She long ago swore never again to fall for a guy who might one day leave her for a rock. When Conrad returns from a climbing trip haunted by the catastrophe that killed his best friend, Kenzie can see he’s hurting and wants to help. She just might have the perfect way to bring him back to the world of the living. But friendship quickly turns into something more—and now she’s risking her heart to heal his.

I have a love for all things animals, and I'm also extremely interested in aspects of Search and Rescue, especially of the doggy variety.  So knowing that Kenzie and her lovely golden retriever, Gizmo, are a wonderful SAR K9 team was already a winner for me.  To make things even better, Pamela doesn't skimp on the SAR aspects of this book, which as been true from the outset of Colorado High Country.

Sure, sometimes the activities can get a little mundane, but unlike another book with a Search and Rescue dog involved that I'd read a while back, this one gets more involved than just using the descriptor as part of the character bio.  We got to see a little bit of the training, and some of the activities that SAR dogs participate in; we got to see Gizmo renew his SAR status.

It also helped that we got to see Kenzie in the middle of training a new SAR dog, with the introduction of Gabby at the beginning of the book.  Puppies make my heart melt.

Which is probably why I'm rambling in this review.

Yes, this is a book about romance.  But the doggies were really the stars.

Not that the rest of the book wasn't great.  Pamela has a way of infusing her books with tons of heartfelt moments, and a lot of significant things to think about.

And as much as I'm not a huge fan of the "love can cure all ailments" trope, I actually thought the idea was quite apt in this book.  Because falling in love with Kenzie wasn't the only factor that brought Harrison back out of his deep depression after surviving the Mt. Everest ascent that took his best friend's life, as well as the lives of two other climbers.  I liked that other people played a role as well, between the SAR team leader, Megs being the voice of reason who brings him home and snaps him out of other dark moments, to the wonders that having a puppy can bring to anyone, period.

There was also the inclusion of Esri, the therapist and Harrison's strange willingness to open up to her and just talk about what happened.  While I thought that that might have been a little too easy, I still appreciate the fact that we have a professional therapist helping Harrison, rather than just throwing the "love cures everything" trope out there.

I'm not going to pretend to be an expert at this type of thing.  But I'm glad that Pamela doesn't just stick her characters with dark pasts or tragic histories, and then just lets those incidents lie there as simply a part of their back story.  I like that she actually addresses the issues, rather than, once again, letting the "love cures all" trope take over.

And let's not forget how well Pamela does suspense as well.  She can't seem to get away from it, no matter that Colorado High Country is a contemporary romance series; most of the books in this series have had a brief suspense tangent included.  Let's face it, Ms. Clare--you love romantic suspense as much as the rest of us do.  Let's roll out some more I-Team novels!

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