This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Published by Small Publisher
Released on May 8, 2014
It’s been a while since I picked up a thriller romance, but I couldn’t resist when I saw that a ranch in rural Utah and a controversy surrounding a star athlete were at the heart of things. Why in the world do I wait so long between reading this type story I don’t know because I love it when a story has me completely engaged like this one did. I felt it all and I was tempted to chew my nail at one point when it got really intense.
The story opens with snapshot scenes of the major players involved: the team of lawyers who are sitting on top of a huge situation involving the star athlete they represent who will soon go to court over his treatment to women, the woman who finally came forward to take him down, the athlete himself who has a whole different perspective about what he does to women, a creepy shadowy figure who needs the Connors case to win and doesn’t care who he has to have killed to get it, and finally the Jorgensen family and hands who work the ranch in Horse Canyon. Things are coming to a head as time marches toward Jeremy Connors’ court date.
For some, like the lead counsel for Jeremy Connors, Sam Spann, there is a division in the road ahead. He has a strong incentive just to put his head down and win the case no matter what his personal feelings are, but when he gets away from it all to refresh and regroup, he finds that he is no longer content with his life. He longs to be a part of something like the ranch life at Horse Canyon. He enjoys the people and the work, and he loves the person he is while he is there. It doesn’t hurt that he has developed an attraction for the cool, calm horse wrangler, Kali Jorgensen, and a soft spot for her three winsome girls. He knows she doesn’t think much of him for representing Jeremy Connors and truthfully, as he learns of even more trouble from the guy and his agent, he doesn’t think much of it all either.
Away from the ranch others are making their moves and planning things too. Jessica Stanton, star witness against Connors, is in danger of her life because someone is watching her and stalking her no matter where she goes or how many times she starts over. She would love for it all to just go away, but she’s in too deep now.
A slimy figure moves through the shadows orchestrating the destruction of the prosecution’s case and the removal of all their witnesses by any means necessary. He has a lot riding on this and he will brook no failure.
Danger brushes up against everyone involved and those standing out for right wonder if it’s worth the cost or should they just let it all go.
The plot on this one is broken up quite a bit and it made it hard to keep track of what was going on some times. I suspect this is done on purpose to keep the reader guessing. While it was distracting in some ways, it was also a way to build up my interest. My suspicion about the bad guy changed three times. I love that feeling of not knowing and so I’m looking at everyone warily. The time at the ranch was a nice smooth slower paced bit that took the time to do some character and relationship development. I liked both those sections and those heart-pounding sections near the end when the villain got antsy and made things get scary dangerous for everyone.
The story combined a few interesting themes that worked somehow. There was a feeling that I was reading stories within stories though because of it. There was the assault and rape case and then there was the ranch story in between. Several of the characters narrate giving a feel of multiple stories too.
I would like to add a caution for those who have sensibilities regarding rape, assault and stalking that it is indirectly mentioned several times in the story. How people feel about women who are victims of these things is a core theme here and personally I applaud how it was addressed.
The character development was in depth for Kali and Sam, but I liked how the surrounding characters had a background and life in the story too. The villain was written so well that I was totally creeped out. My favorite scenes involved Kali and her girls working with their horses and I loved it when Sam made that connection with those girls.
The romance portion of this story is there, but it is tentative and wistful until near the end. It isn’t the main piece of the story, but it still is a big piece. Kali comes off as this tough, serene, confident woman, but Sam sees the real Kali. Sam is a bit of an enigma for Kali who reads people and horses well. She likes him and she likes being around him. He is not intimidated by her strong nature, but yet he is a lawyer and willing to take on Connor’s defense. There is also the issue of the dead Nicky Jorgensen who Kali has to let go of as part of her past.
In the end, this was a good read that I can recommend to those who enjoy thriller romance.
My thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity to read the book in exchange for my honest review.