The marriage is fake. The danger is real.
A child is all scientist Hannah Dietrich has left of her late sister…a child possibly kidnapped by the mysterious cult her sister had joined. To discover the truth about Emily's death and find her infant daughter, Hannah turns to BLM Special Agent Walt Riley. Posing as a married couple, they infiltrate the "Family" as devoted followers of the Prophet.
But delving into the cult's dark secrets proves harder than expected…while their roles feel disturbingly easy for the fiercely independent Hannah and the no-nonsense lawman. Has their charade become a real relationship? And if they find the infant, how will they escape the Prophet's murderous wrath?
Good book. The Ranger Brigade task force continues to investigate the cult called "The Family". This time a woman has come to them asking for help finding her infant niece. Hannah's sister died after spending time with the cult, naming Hannah as the baby's guardian, but the members claim to know nothing about either one. Without proof, the Ranger Brigade's hands are tied. Walt comes up with the idea of he and Hannah posing as a couple who wants to join the "Family" while they search for the proof needed.
I liked both Hannah and Walt. Hannah is the older sister, and feels guilty about not being what her sister needed when she was pregnant and grieving. She is determined to find Joy and be the mother that Emily would have wanted her to be. Hannah is determined, stubborn and a little short on patience. She also has cut herself off from relationships, events from her past convincing her that she doesn't deserve to be happy. Her attraction to Walt is unexpected. Walt is fairly new to the Ranger Brigade and is just getting used to the job. He joined the Brigade as a way to put some distance between himself and his brother, who married Walt's former girlfriend. Walt is honorable, kind, and sympathetic to Hannah's distress. He is also attracted to her.
I enjoyed the development of their relationship. There are sparks between them from the beginning, but they try to subdue them in the interest of their investigation. Hannah finds that she's relieved when she discovers that Walt will be the agent posing as her husband when they infiltrate the camp. Both of them sense the connection they have as they prepare for their mission. I liked seeing how quickly they became comfortable with each other. That comfort was especially important when they got to the camp and had to deal with the suspicions of the members. They grow closer as they depend on each other for support and safety. Walt is especially protective of Hannah and finds himself in hot water because of it. A run-in with the Prophet's enforcer puts both of them in a dangerous situation. The struggle to survive brings them even closer, as each realizes that their attraction has grown into more. Walt's love helps Hannah move forward from the past that has kept her avoiding relationships and they are able to find their future together.
The suspense of the story was good. The cult made their first appearance in the previous book, Murder in Black Canyon. The cult leader is definitely creepy with his way of mesmerizing his followers. It is obvious from the beginning that he is hiding something regarding Hannah's sister and her baby. Hannah does a really good job of figuring out the truth and getting help from a surprising source. They also are looking for information about a missing woman, and the discovery of a grave in the woods has Walt disobeying cult rules and getting word to the Brigade. This puts him on the outs with the leadership and gets him attacked and left in the woods. His determination to get back and save Hannah from whatever they have planned for her is impressive and the final confrontation is intense and dangerous. While there is partial success in their mission, the Prophet is still free to continue his activities. I'm really looking forward to him going down and finding out just what he has been up to.