We have arrived at book three in the Search & Rescue series. And it didn’t come soon enough after that startling cliffie in the last book (and it happened again in this one. I’m sensing a pattern, LOL).
With each book the ongoing murder suspense and arson plot ratchets up with each new clue found and reveal. There are some obvious suspects and those who hold the answers are either dying or on the run. Each book has focused on a different facet of the Search and Rescue group (ice rescue, fire rescue, and now wilderness rescue) which makes for a fascinating backdrop and a nice change-up to look forward to in each book. I’ve enjoyed getting to know the quirky inhabitants of Simpson, Colorado and, particularly, the group of men and women who make up the SAR team. George Holloway, a tracker and survival expert, was introduced in the last book and I was all sorts of curious to get to know this silent (and by silent I mean nearly mute) giant of a man and the woman who would be his romance interest.
This is indeed a series that must be read in order as each book builds on the last particularly when it comes to the suspense aspect even though there is a different romance pairing for each new installment.
The story opens with Ellie Price far away in Chicago getting a call from her mentally ill father about dangerous people after him and trying to kill him because he knows something and that he’s headed to her grandfather’s cabin to hide. He just wanted to talk to her and take comfort before he goes on the run for his life. Ellie is not particularly worried about his claims of being hunted after all this sort of paranoia has been part of his illness all along. It was the reason at age eleven her mom stopped letting her go for visits to see her dad when he had an episode and it turned into a hostage situation when he barricaded him and her in her grandfather’s cabin and the police surrounded them. No, that didn’t worry her, it was the idea that he was headed off into the mountain wilderness alone while it was barely spring.
Ellie settled things with her boss and friend before going to Simpson, CO to find her dad and bring him back safely. Ellie was so focused on her dad that she minimized the actual rescue part until she got to the mountain town and saw what she was up against. There are no roads that go anywhere near the cabin and it’s a three-day hike through snow and cold, the environment, possible avalanche, and more to get there. She can’t go alone. Her early encounter with Lou and Callum lead her to approaching the silent intimidating giant on the Search & Rescue team to guide her in. George Holloway may be intimidating, but his co-worker on the team who freely offers to help her is just plain creepy. He looks like he’s going to say no until she is accosted by the sleazy Joseph.
George agrees and begins the trek that will take city girl into the wilds. Ellie realizes quickly enough that her life is in George’s capable hands and she has to somehow dig deep and keep going as the hike through the snow, encounters with wild animals, weather, and a dangerous pair of criminals makes for an intense hike. Slowly, she gets comfortable with George and startles herself when she finds him deeply attractive even if he says little. And George seems to relax around her, too. He is patient and caring and he slowly opens up to speak a few words here and there.
But getting to her dad is only half the battle. The killers on their tail can’t be driven off and they plan to take care of all the pesky witnesses, but then her dad confirms that this pair are being led by someone else far more dangerous before he is gone again. George and Ellie have grown close and want to be together, but someone else worries what her dad knows and a vengeful rogue killer is still out there.
Oh yes, this one didn’t skimp on the action and excitement. I was tickled that things are starting to come to a head with the suspense plot. It didn’t wrap up in this book, but it definitely advanced things so that I’m pretty sure the next book will have the big reveal with all the whys and wherefores. And ugh, this one ended on a cliffie that will have me more than ready for the next release.
But backing up to the immediate story. George and Ellie are quite the pair. This goes beyond opposites attract. George is a survival expert who lives simply in the cabin he shared with his dad without a phone, a TV, or many things most people think they can’t live without. He works with metal and some seasonal jobs like plowing the streets and also volunteers as a tracker and survival expert for the SAR team, but he keeps to himself ignoring people and never speaking. Then there is Ellie- colorful, perky, city girl Ellie who falls on her butt the first time she gets out of her little economy car that threatens to get stuck in the snow at any moment. No coat and no winter shoes. No idea about camping let alone a winter trek in the wilderness. Her dad has no one else to go looking, but no matter about his delusions, she loves him and has his back. She needs George and actually, in his own way, George needs her, too.
I enjoyed the time of George and Ellie out in the wilderness. The details of their hike and living rough were engaging and interesting without tipping into tedious. There is humor and danger mixed in and also the slow developing relationship. It was so sweet to learn that Ellie gave George his first kiss and this big strong guy was a virgin though there was definitely some passion smoldering under the surface that Ellie helped find release.
My only niggle and it’s minor, is that I felt the backstory on both characters was hurting. Knowing them in the here and now and how they grew as people and grew together is solid, but their pasts are only sketched in at best. Why was George the way he was? I was curious.
All in all, this was another solid installment in the series for me. I just peeked ahead and saw the next book is Chris and Daisy’s book. Yeah, I’ve liked Chris all the way through. Those who enjoy romantic suspense and want a unique setting like a Search and Rescue team in a small mountain town should definitely give these a go.
My thanks to Sourcebooks Casablanca for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Romance Roundabout #255 RS
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