Review and Excerpt – A Touch of Forever by Jo Goodman

About the Book:

A marriage of convenience turns into a sweetly seductive love-off-the-rails romance in the latest Cowboys of Colorado novel from USA Today bestselling author Jo Goodman.

Lily Salt has sworn off men. After finally gaining her independence, the last thing she needs is another man telling her what to do. But the handsome railroad engineer from New York isn’t at all what she expected. He’s kind, gentle…and tempting enough to make her wonder what a second chance at love might be worth.

A self-acknowledged black sheep, Roen Shepard knows what it means to feel alone. Recognizing a kindred spirit in the reserved widow whose fascinating blue-green eyes have seen too much, and charmed by the warmth of her ready-made family, the two begin an unlikely friendship.

When a complication from his past follows him to Frost Falls, Roen proposes a mad scheme to protect the new life he’s built and keep close the stubborn woman he’s accidentally fallen for–a marriage of convenience. But Lily has secrets of her own, and the closer he gets to uncovering them, the more he comes to realize that the only truth that matters is the secret to unlocking her heart.

Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:                                                                               A Touch of Forever (The Cowboys of Colorado Book 3)

Read an Excerpt:

Back in New York, they called him the black sheep. Not to his face. Or rarely to his face. But he’d heard it whispered in a pitying sort of way in the free-spirited Bohemian circles where his family was revered. Roen Shepard didn’t mind particularly. Depending on one’s view, he supposed it might even be true. It was certainly his family’s view; although the appellation was couched in humor, not pity. They were dreamers. He was not. He’d been stewed in creative juices since birth. Musicians. Painters. Poets. Novelists. Surrounded by so much talent and imaginative genius, something should have inspired him. Nothing had.

He’d never been afraid to try, and so, encouraged by his parents and grandparents, by his siblings and cousins, by his tutors and teachers, he tried his hand at every sort of artistic endeavor.

He was fair to middlin’ on the piano if there weren’t too many sharps or flats, and if he wasn’t required to sing at the same time. For a while, he thought painting might be his forte. He could put a still life on canvas that looked exactly like the bowl of fruit on the table in front of him. It was politely pointed out to him that he represented the fruit too accurately. A photograph would do just as well, his mother said, and that would not do at all. He wrote bad poetry and even worse prose. He’d once revised the first chapter of a proposed novel sixteen times before his father kindly took the pages and burned them.

The differences between him and his family were not only artistic ones. There were physical differences as well, so many of them, in fact, that his brother and sisters teased him mercilessly that he was a foundling adopted by their parents in one of the impulsive, magnanimous gestures they were known for.

Thinking about it now, Roen smiled to himself. He was still a fish out of water at family affairs, but as an adult, he’d come into his own. He could joke, before his family did, that he had physical stature if not an artistic one. He could also have pointed out that he was not possessed of the same fiery temperament as the rest of the Shepards, but they would have said he lacked their passion and wouldn’t have understood that he was thankful for it.

Roen studied the drawing he had made in his sketch pad, reviewed the calculations, checking and rechecking his work on the elevations, and, once satisfied, closed the book with a pleasant thump.

It was only then that he became aware that he was not alone, and he guessed that he hadn’t been for some time. Roen could acknowledge that upon occasion he had an extraordinary eye for detail while being oblivious to the whole. This was one of those occasions.

He looked up from his sketch pad and turned his head in the direction of his visitor. He merely raised an inquiring eyebrow.

A lesser man might have flinched at being caught out, perhaps even been unseated from his hunkered position on the rocky outcropping where he was perched like a bird of prey, but Clay Salt didn’t twitch. Roen estimated the boy was eleven, maybe twelve, so that explained both his curiosity and his lack of embarrassment.

“Are you done now, mister? Seems like you might be. Didn’t want to disturb you none while you was working, so I just settled down to watch. I never seen the like before, what you were doing. That much fascinated I was.”

Roen had no recollection of anyone ever being fascinated by what he did, and he looked for mischief in young Clay’s eyes. What he saw were a pair of dark brown eyes, earnest in their direct gaze and without a shred of guile.

“Did you follow me up here, Clay?”

Now Clay flinched. “You know who I am?”

“Uh-huh. Why does that surprise you?”

“Well, you’re new to town. You’ve hardly been here more than a minute.”

“Three weeks. People are friendly, and I’ve been to your church twice. Saw you there with your mother and your brother and sisters. Between the minister and Mrs. Springer, I believe I was introduced to every parishioner.”

“Yeah? Not us.”

“No, that’s true. I misspoke. I’m pleased to make your acquaintance now.”

“Are you? Ma said I should leave you be, that your work is too important to suffer the children.”

Roen’s cocked an eyebrow again, this time with a challenging curve. “Suffer the children? Did she say that?”

Clay shrugged, unabashed. “Something like that.”

“I see. So you are in defiance of your mother’s wishes right now.”

“Not really. You didn’t know I was here until you were done so you didn’t have to suffer me at all.”

My Review:

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

Roen Shepard has come to Frost Falls, Colorado, as a consultant for a railroad company, with the task of assessing the area and evaluating possible future routes.  Eventually Roen encounters a young man, Clay Salt, and decides to hire him as a part time assistant, if his mother grants permission.  Lily Salt has been a widow for two years, and is very happy to keep it that way.  She has no objection to her son working for Roen, but she rebuffs his friendly overtures with cool politeness, making sure to always keep a distance between them.

Roen observes that Lily appears to be respected and liked in town, but she seems determined to remain aloof to everyone, not just Roen.  While Roen’s forthrightness and transparency about his job, as well as his pleasing personality have caused him to be accepted and well liked in the town, he makes no headway with Lily.  It doesn’t take long for Roen to figure out that Lily’s deceased husband is not mourned at all, and must surely have been abusive.  This would certainly account for her skittishness and standoffishness.

It’s becoming very important to Roen that he earn Lily’s trust, as he’s beginning to envision a future with the lovely widow.  He slowly chips away at some of the walls around Lily, and then offers a marriage of convenience, the only possible relationship she’d accept.  Surprisingly, Lily does agree, and they’re quietly married, with Lily’s children hoping that Roen is the man who can heal their mother, and Roen hoping that his marriage becomes genuine.

No sooner are Roen and Lily married, but an unwanted ghost from Roen’s past comes back into his life.  Victorine, his former lover, has tracked him down, bringing some shocking news, and claiming that his loyalty belongs to her.  How will this bombshell affect the new marriage and the fledgling kernel of trust that Lily has started to feel?  It’s not long before deceit, prejudice, secrets, and even murder come to the forefront in Frost Falls, shaking up the normally peaceful town.

A TOUCH OF FOREVER has a sweet and slow building romance between an honorable man, one who won’t allow himself to be used as a pawn, and a badly wounded woman, one who regains her spirit, and learns to let go of the past and forgive. I truly love both of these characters, and especially Roen for his determination, patience, and kindness.  His relationship with Lily’s children is wonderful, and there are many memorable secondary characters adding plenty of interest to the story.  This is Book 3 of the series COWBOYS OF COLORADO, but it can easily be read as a standalone.  A TOUCH OF FOREVER is a warm and satisfying read, and will appeal to readers who enjoy not just a second chance at love, but for Lily, a second chance at life.    ~Rose

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