Thursday, March 10, 2016

Reunion at Cardwell Ranch - B.J. Daniels (HI #1611 - Jan 2016)

Series: Cardwell Cousins (Book 4)

The last of his clan to come home to Big Sky, Montana, Laramie Cardwell wasn't planning to spend the holidays chasing an elusive cat burglar. He's stunned to discover that the masked, black-clad figure he tackles to the snowy ground is a woman. After a distracting and sizzling kiss, she flees Laramie, who's knocked senseless by the culprit. Even though he manages to hold on to the stash in the melee, the sexy thief single-handedly steals Laramie's heart! Now he'll move any mountain to capture the mystery woman whose kiss still smolders on his lips.

Good book with a different kind of romance and an art focused mystery. Laramie is the youngest of the Cardwell cousins and the last one left single. He's come to Montana to spend the holidays with his family before returning to their business headquarters in Texas. Not comfortable with the idea of always staying with family when he visits, he is in the market to buy a house for those times. While checking out a possibility, he surprises a burglar coming out of the house. The surprise is on him when he discovers the thief is a woman, who distracts him with a kiss before getting away. Intrigued by the mysterious thief, he's determined to track her down.

Laramie is left holding a painting that the thief appeared to have taken from the house, but when the marshal investigates, nothing from the house has been taken. In fact, the original of the painting he grabbed is still hanging in the house. In fact, all the reported cat burglar sightings haven't turned up any missing property. As the house is for sale, Laramie decides to buy it and use the two paintings as bait to lure the thief back.

Sid can't forget the man who foiled her latest attempt. She has to find a way to get that painting back, but she suspects that getting that close to it again won't be easy. When she meets him out in town, she is even more drawn to him, and can't decide if she should try to get closer or run as far away as she can.

I really enjoyed the cat and mouse aspect of their first few meetings. Laramie is sure that she is the cat burglar, but without proof he can't do anything about it, so getting closer to her is his plan. He doesn't expect to find himself actually liking her and hoping that she's not really a criminal. Sid definitely feels like a mouse, as she wavers between believing he's just flirting with her and that he knows who she is and is trying to set her up. When he does indeed catch her, she has no choice but to trust him with the truth of what she is doing. I loved his protectiveness and how he worries that she is going to get hurt. As their relationship develops, both have to be willing to trust if they hope for anything to come of what is burning between them.

The mystery surrounding the paintings was very good. Sid's reasons for wanting to retrieve them was very personal to her and Laramie was determined to help her. There is also more to the background of these paintings than she knows, and as she gets closer to completing her goal, more questions arise about them. There are multiple possibilities as to who is really responsible, and it could be any or all of them. The final confrontation was really intense, with an interesting twist to the resolution. 

Family is a big part of the story also. For Sid, it is getting the truth behind her father's death, and eventually reconciling with her older sister, who is an interesting character herself. On Laramie's side, as the youngest of the brothers, he constantly has to fight to be seen as an adult. I liked seeing him stand up to them and take charge of what he wants. I also enjoyed seeing Dana succeed in bringing the family completely together. I loved the bit at the end as they decorate the Christmas tree, and what her husband has to say about it: "Dana can't stand the idea of an ugly tree not getting to be a Christmas tree," her husband the marshal explained with a shake of his head. "We do what we can for it." Can't wait to see if there will be more Cardwell stories in the future.

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