Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Hard Rain - B. J. Daniels (HQN - Mar 2016)

Series: Montana Hamiltons (Book 4)

Sooner or later, every family secret comes to light…

When Brody McTavish sees Harper Hamilton's runaway horse galloping across the pastures, he does what any good cowboy would do -- gives chase and rescues her. Unfortunately for him, the woman he's secretly loved for years didn't need saving, and she's just reached her limit with people treating her as hopeless. But they soon have bigger problems when they make a gruesome discovery -- human remains revealed by a recent rainstorm. Remains that will dredge up old Hamilton family mysteries…and bring about a scandal that could threaten all Harper's loved ones.

With her father running for president, every move Harper makes is under scrutiny. But despite the risks, she's determined to uncover the truth about her family's role in a long-ago murder. If she can trust him enough, Brody will be more than an ally. He could be the only thing standing between Harper and an enemy intent on keeping the past buried forever.

Fantastic book. The trials and tribulations for the Hamilton family just keep piling up. Harper has been away for most of the time since her mother's return from the dead, finishing school and doing some traveling. Now she's back on the ranch, and in an expression of her frustration over what is happening in her life she goes for a ride, galloping across the fields and screeching. What she didn't know was that Brody was nearby, and thinking that she's in trouble comes riding to her rescue. She lets him know that in no uncertain terms, but once they get past that dust-up, it becomes apparent that there is something flaring between them.

Harper has had a crush on Brody since she was nine years old, and has been waiting for the chance to do something about it. She's tired of feeling like she's invisible around him, and makes it clear that she's interested. Brody is stunned to say the least. He's been interested in Harper since she was sixteen, but she was way too young for him. Now, not only is she older, but it turns out she is just as into him. However, there is one obstacle, and that is the enmity between their two families.  It is about to get worse, when they stumble on the remains of a human body. Those remains are of Brody's cousin, Maggie, who had disappeared thirty-five years earlier, and Harper's grandfather was believed to be responsible. Both Brody and Harper are determined to uncover the truth. Harper can't believe her grandfather would murder anyone. Brody isn't so sure, but he won't let Harper put herself in danger.

I liked both Harper and Brody. Both are strong-willed and won't let anyone discourage them from doing what they think is right. Harper tends to be a little on the naive side, I think, as she puts herself into some dangerous situations. Both of them are honorable, and want the truth, no matter what it turns out to be. I also loved the development of their relationship. Because of the resistance of their families, they have to fight harder to be together. Brody's determination to maintain his relationship with her, as well as pursue the truth about Maggie's murder, puts him at odds with his father and uncle. I hurt for him, and loved the way he stood up to them. Harper gets lectures from various members of her family, but it's the one from her mother that strikes closest to home. Can she take her happiness at the expense of his relationship with his family? I did like the end and seeing how both are determined to make it work for them.

The suspense of the story was excellent. Interspersed throughout were flashbacks to Maggie, JD, his wife Grace, and Harper's parents, Buck and Sarah. Each scene brings out a bit more of the events that led up to Maggie's death. In the current time, Brody and Harper, as well as Sheriff Curry, are trying to figure out who is responsible. Unfortunately for them, the suspect list gets longer instead of shorter. Every time I thought I had it figured out, someone else would come along and look more promising. A couple of attacks on Brody and Harper showed that someone believed that they were getting too close to the truth. The final confrontation was intense, with a twist I hadn't seen coming. I liked the way that Brody and Harper were able to stay pretty calm while it was happening and work together to bring the killer down. Loved Brody's ingenuity in bringing in help.

Also running through the book is the ongoing mystery of where Sarah has been for the last twenty-two years and what has brought her back. Russell is still working on a way to prove his theory, and uncovers some new information. Buck is happy to have Sarah back, but can't help having some questions of his own. Some of the things that came out in the flashbacks add to the feeling that there is something fishy going on. Even Russell is still working to figure out where she has been, though he has a more personal reason going on. An unexpected arrival at the end adds to Sarah's distress and complicates things even more. I'm really looking forward to the next two books and finally getting the truth.

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