Dear Ms. Daniels,
I haven’t read a book from the “Intrigue” line in a long time and decided to check out the latest offerings. While I usually try to avoid stepping into a series midway through, this time it didn’t affect my overall enjoyment of the book. Plus the mention in the blurb about the hero on something other than a horse was too good to pass up.
Russell Corbett was all cowboy and wasn’t about to let a lady lasso him! But Dulcie Hughes had him tied up in knots from the moment she nearly collided with his combine. She rode into town with her fancy rental car and city clothes to claim her secret inheritance. And neither tall tale nor handsome rancher would deter her from exposing a years-old cover-up at the Beaumont property. She expected to find answers, not fall in love. But like the threatening thunderhead on the horizon, the truth would come fast and fierce, and there would be no escaping the consequences.
You toss the reader straight into the mystery. Why has Dulcie inherited this piece of land in rural Montana and why did her parents never say a word to her about it, or the woman who left it to her, before they died? Why is someone writing to local schoolteacher Jolene Stevens through the writing assignment she’s given her students and why has this person chosen the story of a 24 year old murder to tell? And, most importantly, how do these two things tie together?
The murder story installments are very suspenseful and evocative – the heat, the tension, the terror of the murder. I could feel all this as did Jolene as she was reading them. As well, Dulcie’s bewilderment at her strange inheritance, and her fish-out-of-water experiences in rural Montana, are well done.
There’s an info dumping chapter which tells us all about the other happily married members of the hero’s family but with this much information to dump, I guess it’s better to get it out of the way in one place so those who need to know can read it or those who already know can easily skip it.
I like the way Dulcie and Russell talk to each other – it’s fun, flirty but not coy. They talk like adults who have a reasonable amount of common sense. They come right out and say what they mean with little or no beating about the bush. But what man knows the word “mahogany” in relation to a woman’s hair color? ;) The one sex scene is intense but because of the emotional charge to the atmosphere following a confrontation. It’s not a tender, thoughtful or truly meaningful encounter as Russell laments. This is Quick Love but then these two have seen each other during stressful conditions.
There are lots of possible suspects but no way to prove or disprove some of them outside of what the people themselves are willing to tell. You lead me down one garden path but then sideswiped me at an intersection with new information. If so many people knew what happened to certain people after the murder, why didn’t the murderer? It’s not as if people knew to keep the information secret from a specific person. And in 24 years, no one ever spilled the beans?
I agree with Russell about Dulcie lying in wait for a person to appear out at the house. How could she know it wouldn’t be the murderer who kept showing back up there?
Things were still going well, even with all the revelations, until the showdown — then the ending got bizarre. Just as you said, “Then things got crazy.” There’s lots of psychological stuff here that I’m not sure I believe.
I don’t buy why Dulcie’s parents kept certain information from her. Even with Dulcie’s “thought out” explanation at the end of the book, it still doesn’t make sense to me. Why handicap her efforts that way? Especially since her parents knew murder had been committed.
And I don’t see why the murderer felt the need to send Jolene the story installments. By doing nothing, the secret would probably have been kept. And how would the murderer have known certain things? Though Angel? How did the murderer know about Jolene? Even the other women in town didn’t catch on.
Finally, just because I’m curious, where does this title come from? The weapon used during the murder was a knife. I suppose something could be called the “smoking gun,” but it’s definitely not a six-shooter.
I wish the murder mystery part of the book had lived up to the romance relationship part. I truly enjoyed the interactions between Dulcie and Russell. Had the book been more focused on romance, or had the mystery part worked better for me, the grade would have been higher but as it is, I’d give it a C+.