When trouble walks in,
there’s no choice but to hold on tight for the ride.
Two years before, Shaw Woodward watched the love of his life walk down the aisle to another man. Since then, life has kicked him in the balls and lifted him up several times. Just so happens he’s on the downward dip of that cycle right now.
After a difficult mission in the Ranger Ops unit, he’s struggled to keep his focus, and his captain is forcing him to seek help. He just never expected to walk into the shrink’s office to find the woman he loved seated behind the desk in sexy secretary glasses with her blonde hair in a confining bun he wants to unravel.
Atalee Franklin has experienced a lot of highs and lows lately—a marriage and a divorce to name a couple. As a psychiatrist, she’s passionate about helping people through their most difficult moments, but then in walks Shaw, the gorgeous, muscled friend of her ex-husband, and also the reason her marriage failed.
With another shot at a relationship in his sights, can Shaw actually get his head in order enough to feel again? Leaving the Ranger Ops isn’t even a possibility—the only way they’ll strip him from the unit is by putting him in the ground. Atalee sees no way to help the man she cares for without giving her professional opinion to quit the special ops force, but could her heart be impairing her judgment in this case? Losing him a second time isn’t even an option…
Again I’m reading a series out of order. With this one I think I might have been better off starting with the first book. I’m not quite sure of how a Texas Ranger becomes part of Ranger Ops which appears to be far more military in nature.
That said this book does address some PTSD issues that the hero Shaw is experiencing. He does however have a history with the woman assigned as his therapist.
Atalee was about to marry his friend Johnny, when at the urging of his father, Shaw tells her he’s always loved her and to go through with the marriage would be a mistake. Somehow the words Shaw spoke that day never left her and now divorced with her degree and a new position at the VA Atatee is building a new life. The life she had planned before her disaster of a marriage.
Because of the alias used for the appointment Atalee didn’t know it was Shaw that was her patient. So many memories surface including the kiss he gave her that fateful day.
The nature of his job with Ranger Ops has him leaving on missions at a moments notice, and appointments are missed even though in all actuality Atalee can’t be his therapist because of their connection.
Atalee decides to stop by his place after a couple of appointments have been missed. What she finds surprises her.
This is a favorite scene, as clean as I could find.
God, he had to stop these thoughts before they got out of control.
He reached for the box. “I can do it.”
“I’ll help,” she said at once. “It’s your leg?”
He nodded and shifted to tug up his jeans over the bulge of his calf muscle. The ragged wound stung like hell, but all he could think about was Atalee kneeling at his feet. Dirtier thoughts than he’d ever had in his life popped into his mind.
She let out a low gasp at seeing his leg. “What happened to you?” she almost cried.
He latched his gaze onto hers. “Not the question to ask a man like me.”
“It’s a bullet wound, isn’t it? Oh my God, Shaw!” As if to cover her reaction, she tore open the box lid and rifled through the contents.
“Gauze, alcohol, tape. That’s all I need, baby doll.” The endearment rolled off his tongue before he could snatch it back. She sat back on her heels and stared up at him, sea-green eyes burning with tears.
Jesus Christ, he was a goner for this woman.
Reaching out, he cupped her face in his palm, threading his fingers into her soft hair as he’d been wanting to forever.
“If you’ll find me those items, I’ll take care of it. No need to watch.”
She shivered and leaned her head into his touch. Gawd, he couldn’t stop this pull between them—it was like the tides.
“I-I’ll help, I told you.” Pulling away, she located the roll of gauze that was almost depleted from his last injury.
“Cut some into squares using those small scissors,” he instructed.
She flashed a look at him. “How many times have you done this?”
He didn’t answer—she didn’t want to know.
He watched her snip the gauze into several squares. “That’ll do,” he said. Taking the bits, he pressed them to the wound, staunching the blood flow, which had slowed to a trickle. “If you’ll cut a few more and pour some o’ that alcohol on it, I’d appreciate it.”
Without a word, she did as he asked, though she was a bit paler from the experience. He’d give her a nice shot of whiskey and get her feeling better.
Or two shots and make her clothes fall off.
He ground his teeth at the thought of her naked and spread-eagle on his bed.
“Are you sure you’re ready for this? It’s going to hurt,” she said.
He gave a nod and removed the bloody bandage for her to clean the bullet graze, a good inch wide and half an inch deep, digging through the muscle of his calf.
When she pressed the alcohol-soaked gauze to the cut, he let out a hiss of pain. A tear dropped from her eye.
“Oh Jesus. Baby doll, I shouldn’t have asked you to do this. Let me have it.” He placed a hand over hers on his leg. Her hand shook, and she looked up at him, eyes swimming with tears.
“I’m okay. I just hate to hurt you, Shaw.”
Hell, did she know how freakin’ sweet she was? Probably not. Women like her were rare, because they did things for others without asking for anything in return. It was how he knew she was a great therapist.
“I’m okay,” he assured her, though his tone took on his emotions and came out thick.
He took over for her, wiping harder to clean out the cut the way he knew she wouldn’t for fear of hurting him further. “More gauze,” he said.
When she handed it to him, he placed it beneath the wound and looked into her eyes. “Pour the alcohol straight in.”
She shook her head. “I can’t. It will hurt you.”
“I have to clean it out, and it’s too deep for just a wipe or two. Pour it in. Please, Atalee.”
After two heartbeats, she nodded and picked up the bottle. It wavered over his leg, and then she dumped it.
The searing pain cut through his muscle, but he bit back any sounds he might have made if he was alone. When she looked up, he gave a nod to stop. “Now we just bandage it.”
“That I can do. Lean back and let me take care of it.”
He did, too tired to resist, and besides, having her soft hands working over his leg soothed him in ways he hadn’t known he needed till now.
She fussed over him, placing the gauze bandage just so, and then she taped it down, commenting that the tape would pull out his leg hair when he removed it. That brought a half-smile to his lips. When she was finished, she sat back on her heels again.
Em Petrova. WithinRange (Kindle Locations 848-891). Kindle Edition.
Of course things don’t go completely smooth, but they mostly do as far as the relationship goes. He doesn’t go for therapy though and he actually finds help in a totally different environment.
We also meet Shaw’s father and Atalee’s mother who seem to strike up their own sort of relationship.
Slow revelations and white hot heat along with interesting glimpses of missions. Plus a nice lead in to what I presume will be the next book in this series.
I definitely have to go back to read the first book in this series for a better understanding of Ranger Ops in general.
4 Contented Purrs for Em!
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Em Petrova lives in backwoods, Pennsylvania, where she raises four kids and a Labradoodle named Daisy Hasselhoff. Her dream is to buy an old pickup and travel small-town USA meeting people and hearing their stories. Her heroes are hardworking—in bed and out—and she is known for panty-scorching erotic romance.