The Very Thought of You (Pacific Vista Ranch #2)


Firefighter and son of first-generation U.S. citizens, Jake Cruz gets reacquainted with veterinarian and daughter of a Hollywood director Amanda McNeill when he rescues a dog from the site of a hit-and-run accident. Due to their busy schedules, monitoring the dog’s recovery leads to pet sharing, which coincides with an incident where Jake rescues Amanda from her own accident. It’s been more than a decade since Jake was a high school freshman with a learning challenge and a secret crush on Amanda, the patient senior who tutored him to academic success. Their mutual attraction as adults is impossible to ignore. Emotional baggage from traumatic events in their childhoods combined with their current professional ambitions make both of them reluctant to pursue more than friendship, but their chemistry becomes irresistible. 

Amanda and Jake’s story offers a charming spin on the theme of second-chance love. There is an overall sweetness that’s reinforced by the focus on nature, animals, and deeply rooted family connections and generational heritage. Both Jake and Amanda worry themselves into near paralysis about how, or if, to pursue a romantic relationship, which slows the narrative momentum and sometimes portrays a level of immaturity that seems inconsistent with their ages of twenty-seven and thirty. Complicated family dynamics, self-doubt, and showing emotional vulnerability while fearing rejection and humiliation are other themes that are skillfully explored. One dangling story thread related to Jake encourages anticipation of the next installment in this appealing series. 

Cardyn Brooks