Sunday, December 24, 2017

Always a Lawman - Delores Fossen (HI #1749 - Dec 2017)

Series: Blue River Ranch (Book 1)

A sheriff’s heart-wrenching past threatens to destroy his future

Ten years ago, Sheriff Gabriel Beckett helped convict the man who murdered his parents in a shocking crime that still haunts his small Texas town. Now the terror has returned and the woman who escaped the attack is a target again.

Jodi Canton loved Gabriel -- until that love shattered with his parents’ murder and her father’s conviction. Taunted with threats, she’s determined to bait the real killer out of hiding. Drawing out a criminal puts her life on the line, but Gabriel’s protection puts her heart in danger. Even if they survive a predator, can they risk everything to heal each other?

Exciting start to the new series. Nearly non-stop attacks, multiple suspects, and a simmering attraction kept me glued to the pages from start to finish.

Ten years after the murder of his parents, Gabriel is the sheriff of Blue River. He isn't very happy to find Jodi, the daughter of the man convicted of those murders, at the scene of that crime, and where she had also nearly lost her life. He's even less happy to discover that she is receiving threats and has made herself a target to try to draw the attacker out. Both of them get quite a shock when they find a knife like the one used in her attack and a dead body in his parents' old house. Having a masked man shoot at them just adds to the tension.

I liked Jodi a lot. She is independent, determined, but also vulnerable. The attack that nearly killed her continues to affect her. She has learned to protect herself so that she can keep herself safe. She is determined to discover the truth of what happened that night and clear her father's name. She is also haunted as much by what she doesn't remember of that night as by what she does remember. If she can find out who it was, maybe she can finally move on with her life.

I also really liked Gabriel. He is honorable, protective, and has his own regrets from that night. Ten years ago he had turned away the young Jodi who had shown up at his place with seduction on her mind. In his opinion she was too young, so he turned her down and sent her away even though he wanted her too. Now that she's back, he is determined to keep her safe.

The suspense is fantastic. Jodi's actions have stirred up a veritable hornet's nest. There is attack after attack on Jodi; attempts to silence her before she can fully remember and expose the person who tried to kill her. With each attack, someone different rose to the top of the list of suspects. Is it Hector, who was there to pick up the pieces after Jodi's attack? Or her uncle August, who doesn't think she's trying hard enough to clear her father's name? Or her ex-boyfriend Russell, who claims that his association with her has put him and his family in danger? Through most of the book I couldn't decide who I thought was the actual culprit. The final confrontation was intense as the bad guy had Gabriel and Jodi cornered. The resolution was heart-pounding as Jodi faced her attacker and came out on top this time. Though the mystery of who tried to kill Jodi is solved, there is doubt now over whether her father is truly the one who killed Gabriel's parents. I can't wait for the next book to see what new information is revealed.

I loved the development of Jodi and Gabriel's relationship. Jodi had thought that in the intervening years her crush on Gabriel had diminished. She was not very happy to realize that her feelings for him were as strong as ever. Gabriel also wasn't happy to feel that same attraction that he had found so hard to resist before. I loved seeing the strength and determination that Jodi had developed. It was great fun to see her stand up to Gabriel's attempts to keep her out of the line of fire. His protectiveness was sweet, but it sure did frustrate Jodi. I also liked his sensitivity to her wariness about being touched. I loved seeing them finally realize that they were meant to be together. I'm looking forward to seeing more of them in later books.

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