Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

Gallant Lake Stories #1

A Man You Can Trust

Rate this book
She doesn’t need a man

But she could use a friend

When the new director of security, Nick West, arrives at Gallant Lake Resort, Cassie Smith’s carefully protected life is turned upside down. The handsome ex-cop insists on teaching her self-defense, and as Cassie learns she can indeed make it on her own, she starts wondering if she wants to! But when Cassie’s safety is threatened, she must choose: continue running from her past…or take a stand for a brighter future.

224 pages, Mass Market Paperback

First published August 20, 2019

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Jo McNally

64 books253 followers
I write the same kind of romances I like to read – stories about characters facing real-life challenges with real-life consequences. The stories are emotional, but still have humor, and love always finds a way to pull the characters through together.

I live in coastal North Carolina with 100 pounds of dog and 200 pounds of husband – my slice of the bed is very small. When I’m not writing or reading romance novels (or clinging to the edge of the bed…), I can often be found on the back porch sipping wine with friends while listening to an eclectic playlist. If the weather is absolutely perfect, I might join my husband on the golf course, where I always feel far more competitive than my actual skill-level would suggest.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
37 (37%)
4 stars
32 (32%)
3 stars
20 (20%)
2 stars
9 (9%)
1 star
2 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 31 reviews
Profile Image for Books and Spoons.
1,613 reviews28 followers
August 26, 2019
A heartfelt story of the consequences of domestic violence, the ripple effects it can have in the community, and how learning to live again is possible if a long and difficult journey for all involved.
There is this wholesome, solid vibe in the tale, the small community it is located in, and the people in the center of it. I loved the meddling friends and family, their support and loyalty, their curiosity and cheerful spirits.
Cassie Smith is a capable, smart, and sassy as she comes out of her protective shell she was forced to built to protect herself. She has secrets and for reasons is shying away from people, but the new man in the resort is not allowing her to hide, and the sparks are flying, all possible kinds.
I liked the energy and connection between Cassie and Nick, there was a fragile attraction but even more than that, there was a genuine friendship building in between them, no matter how much they fought against it. Nick is loud, funny, friendly, and outdoorsy, everything opposite to Cassie, yet they find a way to compromise, and learn to spread their interest as they dare to new challenges.
This was a sweet story about healing and finding your way again, finding your strength after being shattered. It has lessons of learning to forgive yourself, letting your past be history, instead of constant present hinderance of joy and love in your life.
An engaging and inspiring tale of life and love
~ Four Spoons
Profile Image for Frankie.
423 reviews
December 1, 2019
I found the Hero too much of a bully to get invested in their story. I have no patience for characters, especially Heroes, who are not sympathetic & protective of the heroines. Unfortunately this was not an enjoyable read for me.
Profile Image for Julie.
2,012 reviews28 followers
September 30, 2019
A Man You Can Trust is the first book of Jo McNally I read, but it certainly shall not be my last. Jo McNally is a talented writer who writes emotional, uplifting and poignant contemporary romances that will touch your heart and warm your soul.

Cassie Smith does not trust easily. After the acrimonious end of her relationship which had left her broken and terrified, it had taken all of her strength and courage to stop living in the past and to forge forward and build a new life for herself. Although she is still haunted by the shadows of the past, Cassie has slowly managed to gain back control of her own life and has a job working at the Gallant Lake Resort which means everything to her – even if she knows that the past might come back for her when she least expects it and force her to give up all that she holds dear to her heart. Men are strictly off the agenda and Cassie has got no interest in pursuing a relationship with anyone – least of all the new director of security Nick West who has just arrived at the resort and turned her entire life upside down. Nick is good-looking, funny, charismatic – and someone she is determined to give a very wide berth to – if only her boss hadn’t asked her to work closely with him!

When Nick first met Cassie, he almost got hit by a stapler in the head and although he loves and jokes with everybody at the resort, he finds himself having to tread carefully with Cassie. He can sense that beneath her prickly exterior lies a woman with hidden depths who hasn’t had the easiest of lives and when Cassie’s fears nearly result in him having to go to the ER, Nick decides to teach her some self defense moves which will hopefully stop her from attacking him – only pretty soon, Nick realises that it’s his heart that will end up needing the most protection as the more time he spends with Cassie, the more he finds himself falling for her.

Yet, Cassie has made it perfectly clear that she simply is not interested in a relationship – even if she is falling for Nick. However, when her safety is threatened once again, Cassie finds herself forced to choose between running away or staying put and being with the man who has come to mean everything to her. Will happiness ever be within Cassie’s reach? Can her and Nick ever have a future together? Or will she continue to be held hostage by the past?

A Man You Can Trust is a terrific read that you are simply going to love! Jo McNally ticks all the right boxes and has written a charming, emotional, intense and uplifting romantic read about hope, renewal and fresh starts that will bring a tear to your eye and make you smile.

Cassie and Nick are fantastic characters – wonderfully nuanced and believable, they are so beautifully drawn that you cannot help but cheer them on to get the happy ending they so richly deserve.

A brilliant romantic read that will go down a treat with fans of RaeAnne Thayne and Debbie Macomber, A Man You Can Trust is not to be missed.
Profile Image for Olivia.
3,041 reviews68 followers
September 9, 2019
A MAN YOU CAN TRUST follows Cassie and Nick on their path to a relationship. Cassie escaped her past and is now a highly successful administrative assistant at a resort where she excels at her work. She has a history with men, and one in particular, that has led her to constantly look over her shoulder and never trust men.

Nick has left his job as a police officer after a traumatic event and is now running security at the resort with Cassie. He notices that she is a little jumpy and offers to help her out by training her in self-defense. He is also determined to bring her out of her shell and into the outdoors.

As they spend more time together, they start feeling quite a bit of attraction. However, Nick spends a lot of time victim blaming, worried that if Cassie is not a fighter, she is a victim. He has no patience or understanding when it comes to what he calls "victims," and I found this particularly disturbing. This pretty much ruined him for me. Not everyone has to be a fighter, and everyone copes with tragedy and hardship differently. Cassie was a strong character, and I liked her a lot, on the flip side, but I couldn't really get into their romance for all the fear of her maybe being a "victim." This may have just been not explained well, but not sure.

Overall, I found that this one hard to get into as I did not personally care for Nick very much. Cassie was great, and I enjoyed her development. This was easy to read in a sitting also, as it is relatively short and fast paced. Please note that I received a copy from the publisher. All opinions are my own.
Profile Image for Crystal.
1,096 reviews28 followers
September 17, 2019
This for me was an almost perfect book and that’s the reason for the four-star review. You’ve got a great story line, wonderful characters, and a beautiful setting. Cassie has fled her life and gone into hiding. She left her husband, finally, after he tried to push her down the stairs. This wasn’t her first domestic assault by him, but she was going to make sure it was the last. Normally, one would be able to go to the police and the courts with this kind of problem, but her husband happens to be a respected officer, so when it went to court, things happened with the evidence and a mistrial was called. In order to protect herself, she fled. After she set up a life, her husband found her, so she fled again. This time, she ended up in Gallant Lake, working at a resort. Nick has fled his job as a police officer after his partner was killed by a shot gun blast to the back from a man who had been arrested previously for domestic violence. He blamed himself, and in doing so, he felt that everyone else involved (from his partners widow, to fellow officers) blamed him as well. Nick has also ended up at Gallant Lake, as the new head of security.
Nick and Cassie are great together in my opinion. They work well as a couple and they work well together at work. As they get to know each other, they bring out the best in the other. I enjoyed the story, I enjoyed the characters, I enjoyed the writing. I think for me though, if you’re going to have suspense in a story, please make it suspenseful. I wanted the thrum one gets when reading the suspense parts, and it was lacking her. It was basically phoned in (when you read the story, you’ll understand). That’s the reason for only four stars for me. I did read it in one sitting, it is a fast paced story that will draw you in.

*I received an ARC of this story from Netgalley and this is my honest and voluntary review
Profile Image for Jessica.
2,049 reviews51 followers
September 4, 2019
Nick is the new security at Gallant Lake Resort and Cassie is a timid little thing who is supposed to help him out to make him feel welcome. They never expected to meet each other quite the way they did but things seems to work out for the better as he helps teach her how to defend herself to the point where shes gained the confidence to get out of her shell. But there is a past that seems to make her want to pack up and go and things are starting to get comfortable and she doesn't want to prepare to leave again.

This was a sweet and heart warming book. While Cassie was timid and shy she was rightfully so but I loved seeing her gain the confidence to open up and really do things right when it came to defending and being a bit more out here for others. I loved seeing that romance between the two and it was just such an enjoyable book. I loved getting to know more about he characters, both of them had baggage and back stories to back it up and it was interesting. I loved seeing how the book played out and it was clear she was running from something it was interesting seeing how it played out there. Overall it was a quick and easy book to read and I really enjoyed reading it.
Profile Image for Kari Hansen.
9,108 reviews55 followers
September 8, 2019
Cassie has escaped her past and created a new life for herself in Gallant Lake Resort. She lives under the stress that her past may find her, and she tries to not allow anyone close but neither her co-workers or the residents in town are willing to let that happens and that includes Nick, the newest employee where she works.

After a tragedy Nick left his career as a police officer behind and is the new Director of Security at Gallant Lake Resort. He is drawn to Cassie but when he experiences first-hand the fear she lives with he is determined to teach her self defense so that she can protect herself.

As they spend time together the chemistry between them ignites but will the pain from both their pasts destroy what they have together, or will they be able to heal each other?

I really enjoyed both these characters and the evolution they made as the story progressed. Cassie became a stronger version of herself while Nick accepted that the guilt he felt about the past was not his fault. They couldn’t be more different but together they were able to meet in the middle.
Profile Image for Kristina (Kristina's Shelves).
1,123 reviews43 followers
April 29, 2020
I recently learned about the many category romance lines published by Harlequin and received this title free from them for singing up for their email list. I was pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed this story! Cassie is timid, fearful and on the run due to a past abusive relationship. She is currently settled in a small town in New York state working as an executive assistant at a hotel company. Nick, an ex-cop with his own devastating past with domestic violence, is the company's new head of security. The two form a friendship that leads to a slow burn romance as they explore their complicated pasts together. Their story was beautifully written, with an interesting side cast of characters. I've not read from this author before, but I will be on the lookout for more from her. I enjoyed the writing style and the handling of sensitive, complicated topics.
Profile Image for Beverly S.
218 reviews
September 23, 2019
I great read. Cassie and Nick are wonderful together. Cassie is recovering from an abusive relationship. Nick is a free spirit or aleast that is what he wants everyone else to believe. He likes to spring surprises on people. His an Cassie's first meeting almost gets him hit with a flying object she throws.
This story touches on the subject of abusive relationships and the victim and survior guilt.
Both Nick and Cassie have some truths to face .....Can she overcome her issues to trust a man who would never bring her harm? Can Nick face his demons and guilt to see that Cassie is a survior? Read and find out.....

I was provided this copy for and open and honest read. All opinions are my own.
Profile Image for Dana Busenbark.
2,378 reviews27 followers
September 22, 2019
Where is Gallant Lake? Who is Cassie Smith? Who is Cassidy Zettecci or Nick West? Nick happens to be one of my favorite male heroes I think. How and why does he get an idea of what is going on with Cassie? Who are Blake, Amanda, Nora, Mel, Cathy, and Don? How do they all know one another? What does Nick do to help Cassie? What happens when he finds out exactly what is going on? What happens that causes her to run? Where does she go? Read and see!

1,186 reviews4 followers
April 9, 2020
Cassie Smith has found a refuge with her aunt, and a position at Gallant Lake Resort as coordinator for events. The new director of security, Nick West, is changing jobs, leaving his position with the police department in California after his partner was killed in a domestic dispute call. After Cassie accidentally sprays him with pepper spray, Nick offers to teach her self defense. With their lessons, Cassie becomes more confident, and they play office games with each other - Nick is always hiding her stapler, and she goes in and messes up his desk. However, trust is still a ways off for each of them.
Profile Image for Marcie Robinson.
311 reviews4 followers
September 15, 2019
“A Man You Can Trust” by Jo McNally is book one of the Gallant Lake Stories.

Cassie Smith is in Gallant Lake hiding from a tumultuous past, while Nick West is there for a new beginning.

Unfortunately, I could not connect to this story. In my opinion, the focus seems to be more on Cassie than Nick. I prefer a balance between both the hero and heroine and would have liked to have seen more depth in Nick’s character.

However, Ms. McNally does tackle a serious topic in her first book for the Special Edition line.
Profile Image for Karen Hackett.
630 reviews1 follower
October 27, 2019
Jo McNally’s A Man You Can Trust is a heartwarming story about two people wanting a new life in Gallant Lakes. Nick West, an ex-cop, realizes that someone had hurt Cassie and teaches her self-defense. Cassie Smith just wants to be left alone, but at Nick’s insistence, she grudgingly accepts his offer. The lessons give her back her self-confidence. She learns to trust a man again. As their friendship turns into love, Nick must let go of his painful past to move forward or lose Cassie. Cassie must choose between running or staying if she wants a future with Nick.
Profile Image for Sandra.
21 reviews
July 16, 2019
It is a great book, shows how a women is learning to live again. After being abused, how just a little pushing can make her stronger and change her life, to the point when she ran out of fear, she did not leave like she would have in the past. She went someplace she felt safe. Great book can’t wait to read more from the series.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
532 reviews4 followers
August 1, 2019
This was my first Jo McNally book and I’m a fan. This book had emotion, drama, great story, great characters and felt so real. Cassie went through so much. I love how Nick had his issues too but he helped her become a stronger person. This book had a great group of additional characters and a creepy ex.
Profile Image for Lovely Loveday.
2,128 reviews
September 11, 2019
A Man You Can Trust is a sweet, heart-warming romance that is sure to pull at your heartstrings. The characters are well-written and develop nicely as the story progresses. I found this to be a fast=paced read and wished that it was a longer book because I did not want the story to end. I really enjoyed reading A Man You Can Trust, 
Profile Image for Angela Carter.
230 reviews12 followers
September 30, 2019
Nick West comes to Gallant Lake as the head of security at the resort. Cassie is the executive assistant to the owner at the resort. Both have come to Gallant Lake for a fresh start. Nick helps Cassie learn not all men are like her ex. The characters are relatable and the story flows effortlessly. You have moments that will melt your heart and make you laugh out loud.
Profile Image for Marybelle.
346 reviews12 followers
November 12, 2020
Interesting story, but I really didn’t enjoy Mick’s attitude. I know he’s gone through a lot of heartache, but his blaming the victim and lack of compassion really made getting through the story difficult. As an ex-cop he should have known better. It doesn’t matter if he comes around in the end, he just should have known better.
Profile Image for Nancy Luebke.
1,367 reviews41 followers
December 22, 2020
I really enjoyed this romance. I bought this at a local store. I voluntarily chose to review this and I've given it a 4.5* rating. This is between 2 broken souls who seem to heal each other. Lots of little turns and twists to keep things interesting and made me turn the pages. Not for the under 18 readers.
Profile Image for Crystal Gray.
1,083 reviews30 followers
September 19, 2019
I enjoyed this book, but at times I didn't care for either main character. They were different in so many ways and pushed each other. They both have their baggage that they need to work through, some pretty heavy baggage! Can they overcome it?
Author 3 books43 followers
September 21, 2019
This was a cute book about a man who teaches a woman how to stand up for herself. It was sweet and a quick read. It had a bit of scare factor with talk of domestic abuse, so if that bothers you, please do not read.

I received a copy from Harlequin in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Traci Westling.
363 reviews3 followers
September 17, 2020
A great story about important trust to be earned so that Cassie & Nick Can Funday their HEA while working together in a beautiful picturesque town. A serious subject manner is addressed very eloquently by Jo McNally . Worth the read . I love Jo’s writing
285 reviews
January 4, 2021
woman hiding from ex-husband who is abusing her. Meets guy who tries to save her and protect her but is keeping her from developing her own confidence. Typical love story - kind of fun story, but predictable.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Ash Luna .
696 reviews11 followers
July 16, 2019
A Man You Can Trust is was a quick read for me. It was cute and comfy, and Nick and Cassie grew on me just a tad, just wish for a little bit more.
Profile Image for Donna.
460 reviews1 follower
December 27, 2020
I loved this book. It was very emotional. The characters were great and the story line was very interesting! I loved Nick and Cassie and how he helped her with her fears. One of my favorite authors!
Profile Image for Vonne.
517 reviews12 followers
March 18, 2021
**Actually a 3.5-rating**

I don't know if I'm fully behind this Author's belief that she wrote a “nice guy” [in her words "a gentleman] just because he's an Ex-L.A. cop with an annoying hero complex and he wants to help our female MC at such a frustrating level. Hmmm...

Our female MC is coming from a bad history that causes her to jump-scare at anyone who surprises her and causes her to not want anyone close or go out with co-workers.

From our deducing, she is frightened of a man named "Don" and he roughed her up pretty bad; I would say panic attacks and crippling anxiety, but well, she had those bouts before Hero-Complex guy showed up and then suddenly that easily washed away.

Ya know, the All-Mighty power of the D[ick].

I don't appreciate books like these, giving false hopes to those who suffer real phobias and real anxiety issues.

When the male MC wasn't there, her days come off as a horror-show, where she was scared of her own shadow and wouldn't allow people to hug her, carried pepper spray and hated walking to her car at night.

She works as an executive assistant for the CEO of a resort and our male MC is going to be the new head of Security. Somehow, in some flimsy way her boss finagles a situation where SHE will have to show-the-ropes to this new employee.

I call BS because you can't tell me there wasn't someone already established inside the Security department that couldn't have done the same job - I call bogus story scenario.

Then the guy had to be LOL-jokey-jokey, wants to pull pranks like a 5yr old...and this is on his first day! Dude...dude, chill, remember first impressions matter.

She doesn't appreciate his humor, at first, but eventually it will stop bothering her because now she likes him-likes him.

Of course he's damn curious to why she's so skittish and then when he follows her so closely one night into the dimly parking lot...she pepper sprays him.

Immediately, he's critiquing her about her fighting-back tactics and for some dumb reason offers to teach her skills that could protect her. They may or may not use office time for this stupid purpose AND he doesn't like the fact that she "doesn't get out much" or "isn't adventurous" like him.

This means that part of her skill-set training is him doing these outdoor excursions with her. I swear, somewhere along the way after the pepper spray incident and the start of her training we lost that once fearful cowering person who had anxiety issues...

... and I'm sorry, time-jumps happened in this writing that mind boggled so THEY said they felt like friends after WEEKS of training, but readers [I] barely saw this which made their sudden intimacy moments weird.

And our female MC suddenly gaining this empowerment felt off, mainly because it was being dealt out that she only changed when the male MC took over the role of her Hero/Protector.

I don't know why we kept making this "fear" prominent about her abusive Ex returning because when the drama scenario amped up, it fell flat on its face.

I really didn't appreciate this manner in which we were supposed to believe she grew confident and empowered by all that he did for her and with her, but yet...never got an opportunity to actually bear witness to this change in action, only the end results.

Plus, he had a massive hero complex that could nearly turn toxic on some level and yeah it was made more of a bigger deal than her initial fears and anxieties.

They magically melted away and she was cured by his penchant for White Knight Syndrome-ing and mere presence - like she couldn't have done it all on her own...hate these stories.
Profile Image for SynergyQuest.
1,749 reviews6 followers
October 30, 2019
A Man You Can Trust is a decent contemporary romance. The hero and heroine both moved into town to escape their past. She was physically abused by her ex-husband. He lost his (police officer) partner during a domestic violence well check. When he joins the resort company where the heroine is an executive admin, she is very weary to trust a man and he’s not really looking for any entanglements. She’s twitchy, understandably so, and he’s a jokester, albeit with a kind heart. Their relationship is obviously inevitable, but I never really felt much chemistry between the two.

The ending feels like a HFN rather than a HEA. I’d have loved to seen at least one more chapter where the possibility of danger exists and she doesn’t run. Then we’d get to see her actually reach out to the hero and them work through it together as they agreed (twice now) despite it not yet playing out that way. As it currently stands, the book ends with the agreeing to trust and believe and work through things, but we never get to see proof that the heroine can hold up her end of the bargain.

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Profile Image for Therese Beharrie.
Author 120 books291 followers
August 28, 2019
I enjoyed this book. The setting was a beautiful small town built around a resort where both the main characters work. The characters, main and secondary, were appealing, and I loved their relationships. When it came to the domestic abuse storyline, however, I struggled. I would have loved a bit more nuance, particularly on the part of the hero, who comes across as harsh and unsympathetic at times. I'd recommend this book with that caveat. I also intend on reading more of Jo McNally's books.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 31 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.