Title: Rugged Defender
Series: Whitehorse, Montana: The Clementine Sisters Trilogy #3
Author: B.J. Daniels
Format: Mass Market Paperback, 256 pages
Published: October 16th 2018 by Harlequin Intrigue
ISBN: 1335526706 (ISBN13: 9781335526700)
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5 Wine Glasses
Murder in Montana?
Cowboy Justin Calhoun is certain that Chloe Clementine is the one who got away. Now she’s back in Whitehorse, Montana, for the holidays—and Justin’s ready to make his move. But Chloe has a secret Santa who’s been sending her not-so-nice presents, each more threatening than the last. Now they must find Chloe’s stalker Santa…before their fairy-tale Christmas turns into a nightmare.
“Best be ready for the consequences when you go poking a porcupine with a stick, missy. Someone’s bound to get hurt and it won’t be the porcupine.”
Rugged Defender is the fabulous conclusion to B.J. Daniel’s Whitehorse Montana: The Clementine Sisters Trilogy. It features cowboy Justin Calhoun and investigative reporter Chloe Clementine, the final Clementine sister with an untold story.
The story opens just as Chloe is about to head out to spend the holidays with her sisters. She is blindsided by the news that she’s being downsized from her job as the digital age has brought cutbacks to her newspaper and she’s been caught in the layoffs. Not wanting to disappoint her sisters and desperately needing time away anyway, Chloe decides to proceed with her plans and heads home to Whitehorse, Montana.
Investigating is in Chloe’s blood. So, even though she’s no longer employed, when she discovers that Justin, the man she’d had a crush on years ago in her pre-college days, is suspected of his brother’s death, she can’t resist looking into it. She knows in her heart that Justin couldn’t have hurt his brother, much less killed him, and she’s driven to prove it.
Shortly after his brother’s demise with his father’s accusations weighing heavily upon him, Justin left town to make his way elsewhere. Now, years later, Justin receives a call that Chloe – the girl he’s always thought of as the one who got away – is in Whitehorse and in trouble. Tired of running from his past, he decides that it’s time for him to go home, confront his father, and help Chloe. He arrives back in Whitehorse shortly after Chloe.
When he discovers that Chloe is putting herself in harm’s way to clear his name, he’s not happy. But, he quickly discovers that there is no stopping Chloe once she’s on the trail of a story. Since he can’t get her to back off the investigation, he insists on working it with her as a team. A big benefit of his strategy is that spending all that time together gives them both a chance to get to know each other better.
I really liked Chloe and Justin. She’s stubborn and focused. He’s resolved to make things right with his father and claim his birthright. However, the more the two looked into the past, the more people surfaced that didn’t want the case re-opened. Their romance was in the background for much of the story as their focus was on their investigation. Even so, I enjoyed the development of their relationship and the undercurrent of their smoldering chemistry was palpable throughout.
Following please find a few of my favorite lines from Rugged Defender:
“If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that people aren’t always who you think they are.”
“So, what’s our next move?”
He grinned. “I know what I’d like mine to be.”
Stupid girl. Now she was going to have to die.
B.J. sure knows how to spin a great tale! Each and every one of the stories in this trilogy have been wonderful romantic mysteries on their own. Like the others, this tale was teeming with fast-paced, non-stop action and unexpected twists and turns. This tale kept me up way past my bedtime as B.J. kept me guessing as to the murderer’s identity until the very end. The final confrontation was epic. AND, the epilogue is guaranteed to leave you with a huge contented smile as B.J. wraps up the entire series with a big tidy bow. If you enjoy sexy cowboys, well-planned plot lines and sweet romantic suspense, I’d highly recommend that you pick up Rugged Defender soon!
Suggested Reading Order:
Hard Rustler (Book #1)
Rogue Gunslinger (Book #2)
Rugged Defender (Book #3) – The Finale!