Once Touched

Book Three of the Silver Creek Series

Ballantine Books (November 2015)
ISBN-10: 0345537025
ISBN-13: 978-0345537027

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Three siblings, an extraordinary family, a lasting heritage—in the irresistible Silver Creek Ranch trilogy, they’ll fight for the land and the people they love.

The youngest of the three Knowles siblings, Quinn has in her blood the love of the land and its beautiful creatures. Raising enough money to build an animal sanctuary is a dream Quinn lives every day—while fending off her family’s well-intentioned matchmaking schemes. Though harboring secret fears about intimacy, Quinn soon realizes she cannot fight her growing attraction to a man who has suddenly entered her life.

Scarred by his months in Afghanistan and the violence he witnessed there through his camera lens, photojournalist Ethan Saunders throws himself into hard ranching work as a prescription for healing. But falling for Quinn has given him the one thing he thought he’d lost forever: hope. Ethan discovers that Quinn, like the innocent animals she rescues, is shy, and afraid of entrusting her heart to a man. Passion soon awakens Ethan’s strength, and his tender seduction may be just what Quinn needs to believe in herself—and in his love.

Read the Reviews

"ONCE TOUCHED is a very sweet and beautiful story of hope, healing and love and I really enjoyed it.

I love Quinn. She’s a wonderful character, beautiful on the inside as well as the outside, but what makes her so appealing is everything that makes her who she is – her fears, her hang-ups, her big heart, her selflessness and her willingness to risk it all for love.

I love how patient and gentle Ethan was with Quinn, taking the time to earn her trust and ease her fears, just letting her move at her own pace. Ethan and Quinn together are so good and the tender moments, the passion, the sweetness combine to make this a very heartwarming and romance. My favorite quote is simple, but says everything: “…you’re the best thing that’s ever happened to me, Quinn. I like the way you make me feel— any time of day, anyplace we are.”

The Sassy Bookster

"Once Touched is my first book by Laura Moore and I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed it. I quickly fell in love with the Knowles family and Silver Creek. While this is the third book in the series, it can easily be read as a standalone, though I now want to go back and read the first two books in the series as well.

I loved both Quinn and Ethan's characters, as well as all the secondary characters as well. Laura Moore is a very talented and gifted writer who just made the characters, the setting, and the animals come to life. The story was touching, romantic, sexy, heartbreaking, heartwarming, and just an overall good read."

Always YA at Heart

"I loved this book. I read it in one setting. I couldn’t believe how much I loved Moore’s writing. She made Quinn into the kind of character that I love. Strong-willed, independent, quirky and hilariously intelligent.

I loved how adamant she was that she didn’t want to get married. That she wanted to be wild and free. Ethan her love interest in the book spent his career being wild and free. Are they both able to settle down together? Can Ethan be happy with a slower paced life? I just wanted to read faster to find out. Quinn had such a kind heart that really wanted her to have her happy-ever-after even if she didn’t want one.

Ethan is the kind of man I fall for. Very smart in all aspects of life. He isn’t lacking in courage or chivalry. Except his life is forever changed and is no longer the same man. I really liked how Ethan evolved throughout the book. He became a different that had even more integrity and grit. I really liked that Ethan was so broken and needed fixing and to find himself.

I’m beyond excited that I have a new author to love other than my usual cowboy romance authors. I really love the humor that Moore puts into her dialogue. It makes the story more real for me. I definitely need to get the first two books in this series."

Romancing the Book

"In her Silver Creek series, Laura Moore has created a trifecta of delights. Once Touched is a perfect example of a small town romance done right with a unique setting, appealing characters, and a splendid love story. The setting is unique because it is a wonderful mix of small town coziness with big city sophistication—the Knowles family lives on a working ranch that is also a resort. It the sort of place that even the most discriminating of readers can imagine visiting…

…The characters are charming. The Knowles’ family interaction with each other showcases the best aspects of family life—the unwavering love; the steadfast support, and even the teasing, like Quinn’s brothers Ward and Reid show her…

…And while I’ve enjoyed every character’s story— this is the third and last book in the series—I do have to admit that from the very beginning Quinn captured my imagination. Part of it, of course, is her love of animals. Once Touched is a smorgasbord of animal delight—an adult version of a splendid petting zoo. The scenes with Quinn interacting with her rescued creatures is touching—from her loud obnoxious parrot; her re-homed wolf; her skittish horses; her adorable rabbit; her loyal dog; her independent cat and of course her amusing, frisky goats. In fact, her goats, are the first thing that Ethan and Quinn have in common…

…It is easy to identify with Quinn, too—not just because of her love of animals, but because she wonders what is wrong with her. Why isn’t she sexually attracted to men who are clearly interested in her?...

…But Quinn discovers what we all have to discover—that there is nothing wrong with her –the right man makes all the difference…

...But of course the heart of the book, is a charming story of two people falling in love—finally finding the right person—the person that understands them. Plus Moore just does a wonderful job of illustrating the important building blocks of love—not only sexual attraction but caring; understanding; and common values.

Simply put, Once Touched is a feel-good-story that you won’t want to miss!"

Scarlett Leigh
Heroes and Heartbreakers

"Once Touched by Laura Moore is the third in her Silver Creek series... Quinn is the youngest of three siblings, and is the only girl, and being brought up on a ranch, Quinn learned to be tough, but for all her toughness she is totally clueless when it comes to men... Ethan is a photojournalist, and has just come back from taking photos in Afghanistan. After suffering from a bomb blast, all Ethan wants to do is recover and get on with life, and unsure if he will ever have the confidence to pick up a camera again, Ethan just wants to live day to day. But little by little Quinn helps heal this scarred and damaged man. And in return he shows Quinn what a real relationship has to offer. They might just start out as friends with benefits, but it soon quickly turns into more. But misunderstandings and mistrust drive a huge wedge between Quinn and Ethan, can they restore each other’s faith, and will their love survive? I love her interaction with her brothers Wade and Reid. Those books are one and two in the trilogy you get a nice glimpse of them too. Once Touched is another wonderful story by Laura Moore."

Julie B.
The Reading Cafe

"This was a great story and I thought that Ms. Moore did an excellent job or bring this trilogy to a close. While I truly hope that this is not our last visit to Silver Creek, if it was I am glad to see that everything has been wrapped up."

4.5 Hearts


Chapter One

These days, when Quinn Knowles needed a pair of ears to listen to her, she sought out long, furry ones in a soft dove gray that stuck out like handlebars on a bike.

People were all right to talk to now and again. But her friends and family were unsuitable at present, for the simple reason that they were part of her problem.

“Okay, so it might not be exactly fair to call love a ‘problem.’” Perched on the goat pen’s top railing, she leaned forward to scratch Hennie’s furry chin. “But it’s all a bit much. I can’t take two steps without tripping over some blissed-out pair.”

Maybelle gave a bleat that sounded suspiciously like a laugh.

“I’m not exaggerating,” Quinn said. “The situation is seriously annoying.”

In response, the doe stuck her nose in the feeder and withdrew a mouthful of timothy hay. Maybelle had a weakness for timothy.

“I’m willing to give the guests a pass. After all, that’s what they’re here for.” Located on three thousand bucolic acres in Northern California, the setting encouraged relaxation. The amenities and services that her family and Silver Creek’s staff provided were designed to pamper the senses. The ranch’s restaurant offered delicious food, locally sourced. The cabins, stocked with luxury comforts—cloud-soft beds, combed-cotton bedlinens, and bathtubs large enough to accommodate two with lots of wiggle room—created a sensual nest where guests could indulge and, in the true spirit of Marvin Gaye, get it on.

Wilhelmina stepped forward to nibble on Quinn’s knee. Because she had a staff meeting to attend later, Quinn moved her leg a tad to the left, avoiding a smear of masticated hay and spit on the front of her jeans, and returned to the topic du jour.

“It’d be one thing if all this love and romance were confined to strangers passing through. But thanks to my family, the love vibe’s closing in. And I’m the last one standing.”

Both her brothers had fallen, and fallen hard. Ward, her oldest brother, was engaged to be married. Tess’s and his wedding was scheduled for January, a mere three months away. Quinn preferred not to think about how fast the date was approaching. She’d attended enough weddings to be able to say with certainty that she was allergic to them.

Reid, her other brother—better and wiser than she was by four years, as he liked to claim—had also succumbed. He and Mia Bodell, their neighbor and one of Quinn’s best friends, had announced their engagement last night at the Sunday family dinner. Mia had looked beautiful, radiant with happiness, and Reid couldn’t stop grinning. Quinn’s mother—equestrian by vocation, hotelier by profession, and matchmaker by some weird and deeply twisted impulse—had wept tears of joy and satisfaction. Her two sons were destined for happily-ever-afters with terrific women.

Of course Quinn was happy for the four of them. But that didn’t mean she wanted to join the party. And it was getting old, her running into the lovers with their lips locked and their hands clutching and stroking. Their besotted cooing was driving her up the wall. She’d rather listen to her foster parrot Alfie’s loudest shrieks any day.

Even her parents, who should be immune after thirty-plus years of marriage, were afflicted—infected—and were behaving like newlyweds.

Whatever was going around her family, Quinn intended to remain immune. The whole point of being a twenty-four-year-old woman in the twenty-first century was that she could be single and totally absorbed in her own thing. Call her selfish, but she had neither the time nor the inclination to deal with guys and their wants and expectations.

And she’d rather be set upon by fire ants than be needy herself.

Albertina ambled over to Gertrude and began mouthing her neck in some communal morning grooming. Gertrude’s ears twitched in bliss.

“Don’t get me wrong, girls. It’s not that I have anything against love. It’s just not for me. I can’t have a man hanging around and slowing me down when I have so much to accomplish. Mom should understand that.”

But Quinn had the sneaking suspicion her mother was at it again—the compulsive matchmaking business. Couldn’t the woman leave well enough alone? It was embarrassing. Uncomfortable, too.

There was only one thing to do: figure out how to outwit a mother who was as wily as mothers came.

“You know my mom,” she continued. “She’s the one who brings you pine branches to chew. Nice lady, right? You’d think she’d be satisfied having two of her offspring happily matched and ready to say ‘I do’ before the minister. But no. She has to go and hire J—”

“You often talk to your goats, Quinn?” Josh Yates asked.

Speak of the chaps-wearing devil. Quinn teetered but managed to grab the metal bar and right herself before she fell splat onto Hennie. Glancing down, she saw that the animal’s almond-shaped eyes were closed.

Dang, she’d gone and talked her favorite goat to sleep.

Copyright 2015, Laura Moore
Do not reproduce without permission