SETTING: Contemporary (Texas)
REASON FOR READING: Read one other by her (Sweetwater) and enjoyed her style. Plus I was in the mood for a western (since we were planning to travel through Montana).
SUMMARY: [from annajeffrey.com]
Ever since he lost Elena, everything in Rusty's life has gone wrong. Her wealthy, influential father drove him out of Salvation, away from everyone he'd ever loved. Now he's back, elected by the people to one of the most powerful positions in the county. He isn't about to let the woman who once cost him everything get under his skin again. Not when there's a cold-blooded killer on the loose. And not unless he can find a way to live with her father and her millions.
Elena Ryder knew of no better man than Sheriff Rusty Joplin-despite the fact that years back, he let her controlling father run him out of town. Now, she trusts no one else to investigate her sister's tragic death. And she won't even consider resisting Rusty's rugged presence if she gets a second chance…
THOUGHTS / OPINION:
The last book I read by Jeffrey (Sweetwater) was a character-driven story set in a small town. This book was a little different, more of a police procedural with the plot divided between a murder mystery and a romance. But it also was set in a small town. Jayne's review at DearAuthor compared it to an episode of the old TV series, "Dallas", and I thought that was a very good analogy.
This was second chance at love story that was done well. Rusty and Elena fell in love as teenagers but her wealthy controlling father, Randall Ryder, stepped in to manipulate several characters and in the end Elena falsely believed Rusty had cheated on her. She leaves for college heartbroken and doesn't see Rusty for 15 years. He's back in town after being elected sheriff despite Randall's attempts to influence the election.
When Elena's sister is found dead in an apparent horse incident in the barn at her ranch, Rusty is not convinced it was an accident and treats it as a crime scene. After the autopsy confirms his suspicions, he and Elena are thrown together and they rekindle their romance. There was a point where the murder mystery seemed to dominate the story, but eventually the romance kicks in with some very hot sex scenes.
My only niggle besides the too quick solution to the mystery was that Elena was supposed to be the more rebellious daughter but I found her rather passive and far too agreeable with her manipulative father. I didn't buy her supposed rebelliousness. But eventually she was the one who really fought to get her relationship restarted with Rusty which I really liked. Rusty was too willing to let her go and I wanted to shake some sense into him. But ST was still a good book and I’d like to try another by AJ.
MISCELLANEOUS: Love the covers of her books.