In Rescue Me (Second Chance Ranch #2) by Catherine Mann, AJ and Mary Hannah are both looking to put their pasts behind them. AJ, a former undercover police officer, is close to burn out. When his cousin offers him a chance to work for a small town police force, AJ is only too happy to move on. Mary Hannah is a counselor who also trains therapy dogs at Second Chance Ranch. She certainly does not expect or want to feel an attraction to a man like AJ at this point in her life...and she struggles to resist it and him.
Neither is looking for love, but when they start working together to train a rescue animal as a therapy dog, they spend a lot of time together. As they get to know each other, the chemistry between them gets hotter and they like one another. But they are both still holding back. As secrets from the past and present emerge, will what they've started get stronger or be pushed away?
Mary Hannah and AJ are strong main characters who are both struggling to recover from pasts that have hurt them. They are drawn together almost against their wills, with Holly the rescue dog, doing all she can to push them together. As they build their relationship there are challenges to get through if they are going to have something more permanent together. I liked how they handled things and worked through conflict both internally and together. Their characters showed true maturity and continued to grow through out Rescue Me. With the realism of these characters, flaws and all, Catherine really drew me into their lives and I found myself really caring about what happened to them.
There are a lot of secondary characters woven into Rescue Me. The Second Chance Rescue Ranch is a busy place. I loved the follow up from the characters in Rescue Me and how they continued to be a powerful part of the series. Lacey, who runs Second Chance is a very strong secondary character with a sub plot of her own running smoothly along side Mary Hannah and AJ's. This added even more dimension and believability to Rescue Me, because as is such in real life, these people are co-existing and their lives intersect. I loved how Lacey's story continued from Rescue Me, because she's been through so much I want to see how things turn out for her also.
The animals! I love, love what Catherine did in Rescue Me with Holly. Holly is the rescue dog AJ is working with, and she is the only character in the story who gives us a first person POV. It is endearing and sweet to say the least to hear Holly's thoughts! Catherine writes smoothly and reading all of the other characters POV in third person only made us get to know them so much more.
Added into all this is a bit of a mystery and some surprises that keep an already very intriguing book even more exciting.
It is obvious that Catherine knows what she's writing about...especially the animal rescue operation, all the hard work they are, and the intense need for them. Through a captivating romance, Catherine has managed to draw attention to those animals who need our voices and support too.
Reading Shelter Me first would be beneficial so that you have a better understanding of the shelter and the background of some of the characters, but I think if you read Rescue Me alone you will love it for itself too. Filled with everything I want in a book that will stay with me for a long time, I highly recommend Rescue Me to any romance reader, especially if you love animals!