Title: Deliverance at Cardwell Ranch
Series: Cardwell Cousins #3
Author: B.J. Daniels
Format: Paperback, 224 pages
Published: November 18th 2014 by Harlequin
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
New York Times bestselling author B.J. Daniels delivers another Cardwell Ranch keeper with a woman on the run…and the lawman sworn to keep her safe
When deputy sheriff Austin Cardwell rescues a woman in the worst blizzard in years, it's only the beginning. The dark-haired beauty has no memory of who she is and who—or what—she was fleeing. But she's terrified of the stranger who shows up at the hospital, claiming to be her husband.
Convinced that the mystery woman is in grave danger, Austin refuses to let her out of his sight. As desire builds between them, she seems ready to trust him. From Cardwell Ranch to the snowy wilds of Idaho, Austin vows to uncover her identity…before her past destroys any hope of a future.
Don't do anything quickly, Tag had told him. And whatever you do, don't hit your brakes. You'll end up in the ditch.
He caught something in his headlights. It took him a moment to realize what he was seeing before his heart took off at a gallop.
A car was upside down in the middle of the highway, its headlights shooting out through the falling snow toward the river, the taillights a dim red against the steep canyon wall. The overturned car had the highway completely blocked.
DELIVERANCE AT CARDWELL RANCH by B. J. Daniels is a masterpiece of western suspense. I've enjoyed each of her Cardwell books, but DELIVERANCE AT CARDWELL RANCH is, hands-down, the best yet! AND it occurs at Christmas-time, so it works as a holiday read too! As with the rest of her books, it's light on romance, but heavy with thrilling suspense. Don't start this book until you can read it through, as I was unable to sleep until I'd finished it. I'd turn out the lights and lay there thinking about the book... I finally gave up on sleeping. I was sincerely on pins and needles throughout the whole book as the angst was unrelenting. All of B.J. Books are fresh and fascinating western mysteries set in gorgeous scenery suffused with intrigue, spiced with sexy heroes, and imbued with a light sensual romance.
These Cardwell brothers have been dropping like flies. DELIVERANCE AT CARDWELL RANCH is the third book in the author's Cardwell Cousins series, but it tells the story of the fourth brother. It can easily be read as a standalone, even though there are interconnected characters, as the author seamlessly fills in pertinent information that the reader would need to know to fully enjoy the book. That said, I highly recommend reading all the books related to the cousins as they've all been fantastic reads. Her Cardwell Cousins series is a spinoff from B.J.'s Cardwell Ranch series. The previous books directly related to the Cardwell brothers are:
• #4, Cardwell Ranch series, CHRISTMAS AT CARDWELL RANCH (Tanner "Tag" Cardwell and Lily's story)
• #1, Cardwell Cousins series, RESCUE AT CARDWELL RANCH (Hayes Cardwell's and McKenzie's story)
• #2, Cardwell Cousins Series, WEDDING AT CARDWELL RANCH (Jackson Cardwell's and Allie's story)
• #3, Cardwell Cousins Series, DELIVERANCE AT CARDWELL RANCH (Austin Cardwell's and Gillian's story)
As the story opens, we meet Austin Cardwell, our hero. His arrival denotes another Cardwell cousin from Texas who is now on Montana soil. Austin's not thrilled to be in Montana in the winter, but he promised his brothers that he would be with them for Christmas and for the opening of their family's first BBQ restaurant in Montana. Austin's a sheriff's deputy in Texas, a partner in his family's BBQ restaurants, a dedicated work-a-holic, a sucker for women in distress and a loner. He doesn't let people get close to him. He's the black sheep of the family and didn't even attend the wedding of his brother, Tag, to Lilly as he was recovering from helping another lady who needed saving.
As he's driving on an ice-slick road to meet up with his brothers in a blinding snowstorm, he comes around a bend to find a car upside down in the middle of the road completely blocking the road. He wrecks his rental car avoiding the overturned car and is now stranded. There's no cell phone signal so he's unable to call for help. As he investigates the overturned car, he's hit in the head by a tire iron wielded by a lady suffering from amnesia. For them to survive in the extreme cold, they must find someplace out of the elements. That would be a challenge in the best of circumstances but his mystery woman is not cooperating, nor is she dressed for the weather. Austin finds that nothing is as it seems as he's drawn in to the mystery. Along the way, there's lies, kidnappings, betrayals, a missing 10-month old child, a missing valuable log book, scavenger hunts, and terror galore. Will Austin decipher the clues before he and the mystery woman become the next victims?
The villains are truly heinous. They're abusers who think nothing of taking innocent lives and of beating up women. Bad things happen that make my skin crawl. Just be warned that these villains are seriously creepy to the core.
Supporting characters are great. It was nice catching up with Dana and her family and the brothers. Their appearances were brief treats and short respites from the book's suspense.
Following please find a few of my favorite quotes from the book:
"What?" she said, suddenly feeling uncomfortable under his scrutiny. She knew it was silly. He'd seen her at her absolute worst.
"You just look so... cute," he said. "Clearly breaking the law excites you."
"Austin?" she whispered, not sure what to do.
He turned to her and pulled her into his arms. Her mouth opened in surprise and the next thing she knew, he was kissing her. His mouth was warm against here. At first, she was too stunned to react. But after a moment, she put her arms around his neck and lost herself in the kiss.
As the headlights of the sheriff's car washed over them, the golden glow seemed to warm the night because she no longer felt cold. She let out a small helpless moan as Austin deepened the kiss, drawing her even closer.
As the sheriff's card went on past, she felt a pang of regret. Slowly, Austin drew back a little. His gaze locked with hers, and for a moment they stood like that, their quickened warm breaths coming out in white clouds.
She shook her head. She wasn't sorry. She felt...light-headed, happy, as if helium filled. She thought she might drift off into the night if he let go of her.
She looked over at Austin. Light from one of the yards shone on his handsome face, catching her off guard. He wasn't just handsome. He was caring and kind and capable, as well. She warned herself not to let one kiss go to her head. Of course, she felt something for this man who'd saved her life twice and probably would have to again before this was over.
But her pulse was still pounding hard from the kiss. It had been the best kiss she'd ever had.
B. J. Daniels' writing is top notch, as always. Her characters are realistic, captivating and well-developed. The plot is structured to keep the reader glued to the tale - it certainly kept me from sleeping! The touch of romance is another much-appreciated bit of relief from the incessant tension. If you are looking for an intriguing, fast-paced book with a rich storyline and suspense that will keep you turning the pages until the very end - set in snowy gorgeous Montana - then I highly recommend DELIVERANCE AT CARDWELL RANCH!
By the way, Laramie is the last unattached Cardwell brother remaining... I can't wait for his story!