Sunday, October 27, 2013

Forsaken - B. J. Daniels (HQN - Sept 2013)

Series: Beartooth Montana (Book 3)

Danger runs high and passions burn hot in Montana's wild country

Big-city detective Bentley Jamison is a long way from home in the Beartooth wilderness when one of local rancher Maddie Conner's ranch hands goes missing. Towering mountains and a small, tight community are as unfamiliar to Jamison as herding sheep, but he's never shied away from a challenge. As the new deputy sheriff, he's sworn to protect every inch of this rough terrain -- starting with unraveling a mystery that has left Maddie a wide-open target.

Maddie's as beautiful -- and untamable -- as the land around them. Like Jamison, she won't back down from danger. But desire that flares hotter than their tempers only raises the stakes when a fierce storm traps them in the high mountains. Caught in a killer's sights, Jamison and Maddie must trust one another, because now survival…and love…are all that matter.

Good book with three storylines.  There is the developing romance between Jamison and Maddie,  the drug runners trying to recover their drugs, and the sheriff's ongoing problems with his ex-wife.  The romance was at times intense, but also believable as Jamison and Maddie have to let go of their pasts and learn to trust each other.  The drug runners are determined to recover their loot but, not knowing the Montana wilderness, need to get some help without giving away their reasons.  And Sheriff Frank Curry has to figure out how to stop his apparently unbalanced ex-wife from attacking him and going after the woman he cares for.  There is enough going on that I couldn't put it down until I had finished it.

I liked Jamison and Maddie.  Jamison is a former homicide detective from New York City who has come to Montana to get away from his memories back home.  He is recently divorced from a wife who ended up not respecting what he chose to do with his career.  She left him feeling like he hadn't been good enough for her.  Montana is a whole different world and when he is called on to investigate the disappearance of Maddie's sheepherder he is somewhat out of his element.  Maddie herself is unlike any woman he had ever known before.  He is attracted to her but tries to fight it because of the circumstances.  Though he knows nothing of sheep ranching, he has to go with Maddie to the high pastures to investigate.  I loved the way that he constantly surprises her with his ability to adapt to his surroundings.  Even though he is a "greenhorn" thanks to things in his own past (thank you Boy Scout camp!) he is able to keep up with her and be of real help. Jamison starts to think less about what is back in New York and to appreciate and enjoy the Montana wilderness.  By the end he has to decide whether to return to his old life or embrace the possibilities of a new one.

Maddie is very independent and doesn't want to rely on anyone.  She lost her husband and son in an avalanche four years earlier and has buried herself in her ranch work ever since, not letting anyone get close.  With the disappearance of her sheepherder, she has to accept Jamison's presence as they look for him.  She looks down on him quite a bit at first, thinking that there is no way he will be able to do what needs to be done to get to the high pastures where the sheep are and Branch disappeared.  She is surprised at how capable he turns out to be.  She is also attracted to him, which really surprises her.  As they work together she discovers that there is more to him that she thought and the attraction grows stronger.  I loved seeing her let go of some of her iron grip on her feelings and lean a little bit on Jamison's strength.  By the end she had to decide if she was going to hold on to her grief or move on to a happier future.

The suspense portion of the story, with the disappearance of the sheepherder and its connection to the drug runners kept me turning the pages until the end.  As we see more and more of them through the book the danger grows more intense to everyone who comes in contact with them.  Their connection to a Beartooth native creates danger for him also as he is pulled unknowlingly into their problems.  It was interesting to see the interactions among them, giving new meaning to the phrase "no honor among thieves".  There were a couple interesting twists at the end.  I'll be interested to see if there is any continuation of the storyline in the next book.

Sheriff Frank Curry is still trying to help his daughter, continuing his story from Redemption.  When his ex-wife shows up in Beartooth and attacks him he worries about what she might do to his friend Lynette.  Pam is able to avoid any charges and makes it look like she is a victim instead.  Frank tries to pull away from Lynette to protect her, but doesn't tell her that's what he's doing.  This creates mixed signals to her, creating tension between them.  I'll be interested to see how this story progresses.

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