Harrison Conrad is a world-renowned alpinist and superior athlete, having reached Everest’s summit twice. On his last attempt with his long-time climbing partner and best friend, he was the lone survivor following a freak accident that killed his friend and the two climbers they were taking up the mountain. After 15-months in recluse with Tibetan monks, he finally returns home to Scarlet Springs, still broken spiritually and not knowing what’s next for him and avoiding those who cared for him. Kenzie Morgan, the town’s expert trainer of search and rescue dogs, has more than admired Harrison, who’s also a member of the Rocky Mountain Search & Rescue Team. She comes up with a plan to place her new puppy, Gabby, in his home for a little fur therapy.
This was a wonderful story! Harrison’s issues were so very real and his gradual retraction from everyone important to him was painful to experience. Kenzie’s instincts about the power of her puppy were on target and it was heartwarming to see Gabby’s impact on Harrison, to watch him slowly emerge from survivor’s guilt to something closer to acceptance. Kenzie and Harrison’s own relationship blossomed out of friendship and mutual attraction, as well as through their shared admiration and love for the dogs. An added bonus was the education about the intricate training required for service dogs as it was enlightening. And, I learned quite a bit about extreme climbing, including how endorsements actually are contracted and orchestrated.
I love this series and its focus on community, a staple in every story and definitely in this one. It was extraordinary how the town wrapped themselves around Harrison to protect him from his adoring fans and the media, giving him a chance to heal emotionally. The search and rescue training and alpine research was outstanding, lending an authenticity to the core story. Lastly, the romance was well developed and steamy!) and I wasn’t ready for this book to end.
(I received an advance copy from NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review)