cover image Driftwood Creek

Driftwood Creek

Roxanne Snopek. Zebra Shout, $4.99 mass market (330p) ISBN 978-1-4201-4423-9

Snopek’s engrossing second Sunset Bay contemporary (after Sunset Bay Sanctuary) is an earthy, sensuous, slow-building romance between two scrappy, slow-to-trust misfits who have found a home at the Oregon coast’s Sanctuary Ranch. The ranch’s owners train dogs, offer horseback riding lessons, and take in strays of many species, including human ones. Jamie Vaughn, a 26-year-old, tattooed, pierced former foster child, has fallen hard for 34-year-old Gideon Low, who recently finished a stint in prison. Despite his equal affection for her, Gideon keeps his distance, fearing that Jamie’s unconventional behavior and appearance might dissuade his ex, Lana, from allowing Gideon to share custody of his six-year-old son. The rugged setting—with its “temperate rainforest canopy,” horse trails, and beautiful but dangerous beaches—is rich and atmospheric, while the supporting characters, including the animals, feel fleshed out, complex, and intriguing. As both protagonists pursue their personal goals (Jamie longs to become a dog trainer, and Gideon hopes to belatedly assume the responsibility of fatherhood), her impetuous nature and his isolating reserve combine to create powerful mutual need. The pace feels unhurried, but there’s plenty of drama, both interpersonal and external, to keep the reader hooked and rooting for these two recovering loners to find their happily ever after. Agent: Carolyn Swayze, Carolyn Swayze Literary. (July)