USA Today Bestselling Author
He’s bound to the past. She believes in the future
Lieutenant Walker Norton might be cynical, but he isn’t a broken man—yet. Raised to understand the looming catastrophe of climate change, promised to a woman he doesn’t love, he long ago decided to live a life of service to his country, family and friends. It’s enough—until he meets Avery Lightfoot and realizes he wants so much more.
Love means everything to Avery. Witness to her parents’ wonderful marriage, she’s long waited to meet her soulmate, act in romantic movies and start a family. Now it’s all in reach. But Walker can’t marry her until he’s released from his vow—and when Elizabeth Blaine arrives at Base Camp, it’s clear she’s ready to claim Walker for herself.
Elizabeth doesn’t love him and doesn’t want him—so why is she determined to ruin his life? Walker has forty days to find an answer before he’ll have to choose between honoring the past or seizing the future he craves.
With this book we get a prelude that catches you up to the present. The book opens just a few steps back from where the last one ended. It’s early morning, before the film crews come out, and Avery sees something wrong with one of the Bison, the one she calls Ruth. Yes she’s named the Bison. She calls for Walker and together they watch as Ruth gives birth, a beautiful moment that almost ends with a kiss. However the film crew shows up and it becomes a request for just one more day.
We see Boone come in with just the one short stick before Angus and Win’s wedding. Kind of a moot point but a tradition of sorts, We also learn how Walker managed to not pull the short one until today. It wasn’t just luck. Looking forward to the wedding and dancing with Avery at the reception, no one was more surprised than him when his grandmother Sue shows up with Elizabeth at her side. Both clearly determined for him to keep his promise. That doesn’t make any sense to him when the last time they spoke they agreed to put an end to it.
Avery is taken aback by the beauty of the newcomer, wondering why Walker would want her when Elizabeth was everything she’s not. Things don’t get any better when instead of Walker going to his grandmother’s for a confrontation about the past, Elizabeth shows up at Base Camp to stay.
She’s not offering Walker any explanations, and Boone decides they need a back-up husband for Avery in order for her to stay on the show. To say things are about to get interesting is an understatement.
This is a favorite scene.
“Because Walker is going to marry Elizabeth?” she prompted. “And you’re going to shunt me out here in the suburbs away from everyone else? Is that your plan?”
She couldn’t believe Boone had the guts to try to spin it as a good thing.
“I’m not shunting you anywhere. I’m trying to tell you you’re still part of Base Camp no matter what Walker does.”
Still part of Base Camp? Had that ever been in question?
Fury flooded her. She’d come to Westfield the same day he had.
“These new houses are roomier, for one thing,” Boone went on. “We’ve figured out a way to make them more efficient so we can up the footprint, and we’ve got an improved system for piping water to them, and—” He caught sight of her face, ran both hands over his short hair, then held them to the sky. “Look, I don’t want this either, but Walker’s ties to the reservation…” He shrugged. “I don’t understand how it all works. It’s like Sue has something over him.”
“If he wants to marry Elizabeth, he can.” She crossed her arms over her chest, struggling to contain the pain threatening to overtake her. She’d be damned if she was going to live in the new settlement away from all her friends, no matter what he said.
It’s just a few hundred yards away, she told herself sternly, but she knew it wouldn’t be the same. She’d be lumped in with the newcomers, and Elizabeth would take her place as a founding member of Base Camp. How was it fair that Riley, Savannah and Nora, who’d come here with her, were getting everything they wanted while she was being pushed aside? What had she ever done to deserve being treated like this?
“He wants you,” Boone said bluntly. “But want comes second to honor with Walker. You know that.”
His understanding surprised her. “What does Elizabeth have on him?”
“Wish I knew, but I don’t. There are some parts of his life he keeps zipped up.”
She took a ragged breath. “So you can’t help.”
“Not with that.”
“Hang on,” Renata interjected. She held up a finger, and everyone paused while she pulled out her phone and took a call. Avery exchanged a puzzled glance with Boone. Renata never stopped filming, especially in the middle of getting footage that would definitely land on the show. When she hung up, she was smiling. “I’m so glad you’re here, Avery. It’s perfect timing.”
“For what?” Avery didn’t think she could take much more today.
“You asked Boone for a backup husband a while back, didn’t you?”
Avery groaned. “And then Fulsom said I have to have one whether I want to or not. Boone Rudman, tell me you didn’t put out an ad for a husband for me.”
“You knew I had to,” he said defensively, “but I haven’t started going through responses yet. I was letting them pile up.”
“Well, I have,” Renata said. “I found you the perfect backup husband. His name is Gabe Reller, and his cab just pulled into the parking lot. Let’s go. We’ll meet him at the bunkhouse.”
Disbelief flooded Avery. “You got me a backup husband? You can’t be serious,” she hissed at Renata. “You’re supposed to be a friend.”
“I am a friend. Fulsom will kick you off the show if you don’t have one. Wouldn’t you rather I pick him out than Boone?”
“I suppose so.”
“I’m good at picking out backups,” Boone put in.
Renata ignored him. There was nothing for it but to follow everyone else to the parking area. What kind of man had Renata picked out for her? Who would want the job?
“Gabe is a scientist. Something to do with climate change, which is what caught my eye. Seems really nice. Maybe you’ll like him.” Renata marched on, everyone else trailing her.
Avery stalked past her toward the bunkhouse, burning for the chance to tell this interloper where he could get off.
When she arrived there, however, Elizabeth was already squaring off with the stranger, a muscular blond man wearing what looked to Avery like high-end hiking gear. She had one hand on her hip, the other wagging in the man’s face, but when she caught sight of Avery, she cut off mid-sentence. Both of them watched her approach, Elizabeth warily, the man with a speculative look in his eyes.
“You the guy who thinks he’s hot shit enough to be my backup husband?” Avery asked him.
To her surprise, Elizabeth laughed. The man scowled.
“Gabe Reller. I know. What I don’t know is why you’re barging in here where you’re not wanted.” She crossed her arms, hoping to look intimidating.
“That’s exactly what I asked him,” Elizabeth said crisply.
“That’s rich. You barged in where you’re not wanted, too,” Jess called out from behind her camera.
“Pipe down!” Renata barked at her.
Gabe smiled ruefully. “Barging in where I’m not wanted seems to be my specialty,” he admitted. “I’m here because I’m dying to check out Base Camp for myself and see if I can help in some way. A friend turned me on to the show, and I’ve been watching it avidly ever since.”
Elizabeth snorted. “Don’t trust him, Avery. Anyone can tell he’s one of those guys who thinks everything’s about him. Believe me, I know his type—I work with men like him all the time.”
Avery glanced at the crew ringing them. They were loving this.
“What makes you think you can help?” she asked Gabe.
“Don’t encourage him,” Elizabeth said.
What was her problem? Renata had said he was a climate scientist. Had they crossed paths before? “Do you know him or something?” Avery demanded.
“I know his type,” she snapped. “Do-gooders who don’t believe in mixing politics with science.”
“Maybe that’s because mixing the two can be dangerous,” he countered.
Was there such thing as rival wildfire scientists? Avery wasn’t sure, but Gabe and Elizabeth were glaring at each other like lifelong enemies.
“Aren’t you happy Gabe is here?” Avery asked Elizabeth. “You came to steal Walker from me. You should be glad I have a backup husband.”
“Exactly what I was telling her before you came,” Gabe said smugly.
Elizabeth blinked. “You know what? You’re right. I don’t care what you do. Invite him to stay. Marry him if you want to.”
“Maybe I will.” Avery looked over Gabe frankly. Anyone who could rile up Elizabeth was okay in her books. “I could do worse, I guess.”
“Thanks a lot,” Gabe said dryly.
“Whatever.” Elizabeth stepped into the bunkhouse and shut the door behind her.
“You sure got on her bad side fast,” Avery said.
“Guess it’s a good thing I’m not here to marry her. Now what do we do?” he added. “Like I said, I watch Base Camp. I know you want to marry Walker Norton, and I understand you probably aren’t too pleased to see me, but will you at least show me around before you kick me out?”
She supposed she could do that. She liked Gabe’s forthrightness. They could use some of that around here. “We have to travel in groups,” she informed him. “Someone was sneaking around the place last night.” She turned to Boone. “Should we give Gabe a tour?”
“What’s going on out here?” Walker came out of the bunkhouse, and Avery wondered if Elizabeth had said something about Gabe’s arrival. Maybe Walker needed a reminder why it would be worth the discomfort of standing up to Sue in order to save their relationship.
“This is my backup husband, Gabe Reller,” she told him. “I’m about to give him a tour of the place.” She took Gabe’s arm. “What would you like to see first?”
Seton, Cora. A SEAL’s Triumph (Kindle Locations 1237-1296). One Acre Press. Kindle Edition.
Just when you think things can’t get worse, what with an intruder they can’t catch, surveyors from Montague, Elizabeth on her cell phone and Gabe’s glares, and reports from Star News cutting down all the good the show is doing with personal attacks, they do. One that I never saw coming.
I love seeing Alice and her sisters as well as the maze from the ‘Brides of Chance Creek’ Series, apparently that comes after this one but I’ve already read it.
This book is full of surprises and we all know Elizabeth has to be up to something, and so does Gabe, the question is what.
All I’m going to say is I spent a lot of time almost in tears and holding my breath that things work out.
I really can’t wait to see what Cora comes up with next and in the meantime I have a few series to catch up on!
5 Contented Purrs for Cora!
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USA Today and NYT Times bestselling author Cora Seton loves cowboys, country life, gardening, bike-riding, and lazing around with a good book. Mother of four, wife to a computer programmer/eco-farmer, she ditched her California lifestyle nine years ago and moved to a remote logging town in northwestern British Columbia.
Like the characters in her novels, Cora enjoys old-fashioned pursuits and modern technology, spending mornings transforming a one-acre lot into a paradise of orchards, berry bushes and market gardens, and afternoons writing the latest Chance Creek romance novel on her iPad mini.