Sunday, July 2, 2017

Cornered in Conard County - Rachel Lee (HI #1726 - Aug 2017)

Series: Conard County: The Next Generation (Book 35)


Conard County is a refuge for Dory Lake, a place to flee from her tragic past. For extra security, she goes to Cadell Marcus for one of his expertly trained guard dogs. Just the dog. But the part-time deputy can't help digging deeper into the beautiful stranger's history.

After learning the circumstances of the murders Dory witnessed, Cadell isn't about to leave her at the mercy of the calculated killer. The madman is counting on finding Dory isolated, but Cadell vows that she'll never be alone. Guarding her 24/7 is the only way to keep her safe…and to break down her emotional walls he wants so desperately to breach.

Very good book with terrific balance of romance and suspense. It opens with Dory as a child, witnessing the murder of her parents by her older brother. Twenty-five years later, she is a young woman who still suffers from the effects of what she saw. She works as a graphic artist, from her home, with little physical contact with others. She has one true friend, her high school English teacher. She avoids relationships, and trusts no one. When she hears that her brother is due to be released from prison, she flees her home in Kansas City and moves to Conard City, Wyoming, near her friend. Because of her fear, Betty suggests she gets a trained guard dog from Cadell.

Cadell is a part-time deputy sheriff and a fantastic dog trainer. He's happy to provide Dory with a dog who will help her feel safe. Intrigued by Dory, he can't help looking into the past that has her so fearful. Once he does, there's no way that he can simply leave her with the dog and walk away.

I loved the development of the relationship between Dory and Cadell. There are sparks of attraction from the start, but neither one welcomes them. Dory is too afraid to let anyone inside her walls. She has spent too many years keeping people away. Cadell was burned by marriage to a woman who turned out to be all wrong for him and destroyed his ability to trust his own judgement or to have a successful relationship. But Cadell's protective instincts are roused by what he learns about Dory's brother and the specifics of the murder. Though reluctant to let him get too close, Dory is spooked enough by her feelings of danger that she finds herself trusting Cadell as she has no other. I really liked the way that Cadell doesn't put down Dory's fears, instead letting her know that instincts can be more accurate than what the mind says. I also loved his understanding and patience with her reluctance to be around people. It was sweet to see how being around him brought her out of her shell. I also enjoyed how Dory was able to help him see that the failure of his marriage wasn't all his fault. I loved how she also worked her way past his defenses and he began to look at her as someone he wanted to keep in his life. There was a little insecurity on both their parts, as Cadell believes that Dory will leave once her brother is dealt with because there isn't much in Conard for someone like her. At the same time, Dory finds it hard to believe that Cadell could be truly interested in someone as broken as she is. I loved how, with the help of a pair of ostriches, they realized just how right for each other they were.

The suspense was really good. It was a slow build up to an exciting conclusion. Dory has her fears, which she tries to play down, but won't let go of her. She wants to believe that she is safe. Cadell believes that her fears are worth investigating, and the things that he discovers add to the feelings of impending trouble. At the same time, we also get the viewpoint of Dory's brother George. His laser-like focus on finding her and getting what he wants is definitely scary. The final confrontation was intense and exciting. It was quite satisfying to see that his plan didn't go quite as he intended, and that Dory had far more inner strength than he expected. I loved how it all ended.

I loved the animals in this story. The dog, Flash, was fantastic. His protectiveness was part of his training, but it was also easy to see how quickly he bonded with Dory. I loved what a huge effect he had on her life just by being part of it. Cadell's ostriches were a riot. I loved his descriptions of his relationship with them. I expected that they were in the story for a reason, and I was right, though I was a little off on how. I still loved their parts in the ending.

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