The fifth and (for now) final book in TJ Kline’s Healing Harts series.
Leah McCarran has never had anything but bad luck in her life, with the exception of her dream job, working as a therapist for at-risk youth at Heart Fire Ranch. But when her car breaks down on the side of the road and she finds herself stranded, the playboy who shows up to help, seems like the last person she can count on.
Gage Granger has risen above the circumstances of his youth, enough that people believe he has the Midas touch, especially in business. But when one costly mistake could send his reputation and his company into ruin, he needs some time to get his head on straight before he makes a decision that could affect hundreds of lives and heads to see his brother, near Heart Fire. The last thing he expected to find was a feisty therapist who needs his help, even if she won’t admit it.
Leah doesn’t want friends. There was only one person she let close - her high school counselor and the mentor who not only took her in but changed her life, and then she died. Leah doesn’t want that kind of hurt again so it’s easier to remain distant. But Gage is making it difficult. And finding out that he staying next door at Heart Fire Ranch isn’t making it any easier to avoid the kind man who is worming his way into her heart.
Gage sees the pain Leah’s trying so adamantly to hide but neither can help the attraction that begins to develop as they rescue two abandoned kittens and find they have far more in common than they believed. Gage helps her to move past her nightmarish past and she helps him realize that one mistake doesn’t define his worth.
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T. J. KLINE was bitten by the horse bug early and began training horses at fourteen as well as competing in rodeos and winning several rodeo queen competitions but has always known writing was her first love. She also writes under the name Tina Klinesmith. In her spare time, she can be found spending as much time as possible, laughing hysterically, with her husband, teens and their menagerie of pets in Northern California.
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“We should start over.” Gage held out a hand. “I’m Gage Granger, your neighbor. It’s nice to meet you.”
Leah bit the corner of her lip as the horse nudged her hand. “Don’t do that,” she said quietly. She rubbed her hand over the animal’s face the way Jessie had told her they liked. “We’re both old enough that we don’t need to pretend we get do-overs in life.”
“Ah, another cynic.” He reached out and patted the horse’s neck. The second horse seemed to take notice and ambled slowly in their direction.
“A realist,” she corrected. “Another?”
“Like my brother, or at least, he used to be one.” Gage shrugged but looked back at her, curiosity clear in his dark eyes. “So, you don’t think you can forgive and forget? There’s no starting over?”
“Not really. You can forgive, but it’s a conscious choice. Forgetting something ever happened? That’s impossible. It’s like saying there’s such a thing as love at first sight.”
“Next you’re going to tell me you don’t believe in happily ever after either.” He clucked his tongue and shook his head with a grin tugging at the corners of his full lips. “What kind of therapist are you?”
She didn’t return his smile. “A good one. One who knows what I’m talking about and uses hard facts to get through to people who’ve see far too much reality in their daily lives to believe in fairy tales.”
She leaned one elbow on the railing and faced him. “The people I work with don’t need illusions. They need coping skills because life isn’t some kind of fantasy. Most people you meet aren’t good, and they don’t want to help you.”
Gage narrowed his eyes, trying to see more than what she would allow anyone to see. Leah wondered for a moment if she should have just kept her mouth shut. There was something about this man that made her usual calm, reserved demeanor take a vacation and made her tongue run away without her brain. If she wasn’t careful, she’d end up telling him her life story, and no one deserved to bear the weight of that nightmare.
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