The last thing rancher Rory Kendrick expects to find when he’s searching for his missing cattle is a genuine damsel in distress. After rushing to help, he can’t help wanting to do anything he can for this lovely but damaged woman. But even his kind deed won’t get Sadie to tell him who’s responsible for hurting her.
Sadie is trying to hold onto her family, and her life. With an ill father who’s refusing treatment and a younger brother who has fallen in with a dangerous crowd, she’s beginning to feel like she can’t save anyone, least of all herself. When her brother owes money to the wrong people, Sadie tries to pay off his debts, but she doesn’t have the cash. The one person who might be able to help her out is the last person she wants to involve in her family drama, but Rory won’t take no for an answer.
Rory is all about family, but sometimes you’ve got to let go. If you can’t save them, save yourself. Sadie’s been dealt a bad hand she refuses to fold. Because he loves her, he’ll do anything to keep her safe and give her the happy life she deserves, even betray her trust to take down her brother.
“I really want to kiss you right now.”
Her gaze dipped to his mouth. If he wanted to kiss her, she needed to kiss him. She slid her hand up his shoulder to the back of his neck and pulled him in. She stared into his eyes and saw a hunger there that matched her own. She’d never felt this overwhelming urge to be close to someone, let alone a man, but something about Rory drew her in and made her want to stay.
“Did you change your mind, or are you just trying to kill me?”
His deep voice resonated through her. She pressed her lips to his, thinking it just a test. A way to see if they fit, connected on a deeper level than the pull she already felt toward him.
The second her lips touched his, fire lit through her system. She pulled back surprised that such a simple thing could spark such deep and overwhelming need. The same fire she felt flashed in his golden-green eyes.
“Once wasn’t enough.” This time, Rory pulled her back and kissed her, wrapping her in his strong arms.
This was a tricky one to rate–there were things I liked, things I really liked, and things that didn’t quite work for me.
Things I liked:
The Kendrick brothers and their grandfather. The four of them made quite a unit, and any time two or more of them were on the page you’re pretty much guaranteed a smile or two.
The hero and heroine had some really cute scenes together, and some fun romantic banter. For a “stone cold cowboy”, Rory really knew how to pull out all the stops and be a total romantic when he was moved to do so.
The basic premise of the plot kept me turning the pages. The beginning was intense and really pulled you right in to the story.
Things I really liked:
Rory was a great hero! Once he got past his initial apparent standoffishness, he was as sweet and caring as any girl could wish. Plus he’s good with kids and animals–always a bonus (and a good sign!) And did I mention he’s got a great relationship with his family? Plus–cowboy. ‘Nuff said. 😉
What didn’t quite work:
Too much navel-gazing going on with both the hero and heroine. A bit more actual conversation would have resolved so much, so much faster. Except…
The dialogue often felt…off. Everything would be going along swimmingly, but then there’d be an entire conversation that didn’t quite feel natural. Especially true every time the DEA guy showed up.
The opening scene was a bit over the top, but still riveting. The final showdown just felt over the top.
Sadie’s cryptic message to Rory about the map–what was up with that? She needed to just be done with her brother, period. Her refusal to see him for what he was had her veering into TSTL territory at times, which bothered me–especially when she said she knew better and she had promised her dad.
So it was a tough call, but I’m going with a 3 1/2 stars / C+ rating.
I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.
Jennifer Ryan is the New York Times & USA Today bestselling author of The Hunted Series and The McBrides Series. She writes romantic suspense and contemporary small-town romances featuring strong men and equally resilient women. Her stories are filled with love, family, friendship, and the happily-ever-after we all hope to find.
Jennifer lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and three children. When she isn’t writing a book, she’s reading one. Her obsession with both is often revealed in the state of her home and in how late dinner is to the table. When she finally leaves those fictional worlds, you’ll find her in the garden, playing in the dirt and daydreaming about people who live only in her head, until she puts them on paper.