As he's hunting a magnificent buck, cattle rancher Aiden Delacorte’s bullet pierces the animal’s heart. At the same time, Aiden falls to the ground in excruciating pain.
Aiden has a problem: he suddenly discovers a radical empathy for animals. Worse, his gift seems to have been there, lying dormant, since his traumatized childhood. Unable to endure his cattle’s fear and pain, Aiden makes a mess of the annual roundup. After his fears get him thrown from his horse and his reluctance to hog-tie a pig for gelding gets him two broken ribs, Aiden is essentially shunned by his small community. Even his girlfriend, Livie, dumps him for a more rugged ranch hand. Luckily, a single mother named Gwen has moved to town and caught Aiden’s eye. As their romance progresses, Aiden meets Gwen’s charming daughter, Elizabeth, and her troubled son, Milo, who stirs up trouble wherever he goes. When Milo threatens rabbits and a stray dog Aiden adopted, he pushes even Aiden to the brink of violence. Determined to discover the source of his empathy, as well as his difficulties with Milo, Aiden enters therapy. Working with Dr. Hannah Rutledge, Aiden delves into the shadows of his murky childhood to face his demons and help Milo find the light. Hyde (Allie and Bea, 2017, etc.) crafts a compelling read, a story that transcends its potential clichés and sentimentality through characters whose tribulations ring true. Although Milo’s troubles, like Aiden’s gift of empathy, are extreme, they highlight Gwen’s all-too-necessary escape from a violent marriage and Elizabeth’s all-too-common need to please the adults around her.
Like Hyde’s bestselling Pay It Forward, this novel casts light into the dark recesses of human emotions, offering the welcome balm of romance.