Title: Stroke of Luck
Series: Sterling’s Montana #1
Author: B.J. Daniels
Format: Kindle Edition, 384 pages
Published: February 19th 2019 by HQN Books
ISBN: ASIN B07K1CSLB1
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5 Wine Glasses
He's hoping to bury the past. She's ready to settle the score.
The Sterling Ranch's season opening isn't going so smoothly. With the ranch's lodge full of guests and a Montana blizzard threatening, Will Sterling needs help--and he needs it fast. So when his childhood friend Poppy Carmichael agrees to lend a hand, he's grateful for a second chance...and more enticed by the woman she's become than he cares to admit.
For Poppy, it was supposed to be a retreat full of horse rides and hoedowns--with a side of showing Will what he's been missing all these years. But as the snow deepens outside, the guests' suspicion and mistrust turn sinister inside, catching Will and Poppy in the crosshairs.
Weathering the storm in each other's arms is all too easy for Will and Poppy, but will a confrontation with a killer mean their reunion is short-lived?New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author B.J. Daniels starts her Sterling's Ranch series off with a bang in this suspenseful story of romance and revenge.
If he’d forgotten that shy twelve-year-old whose heart he’d broken, well, she’d be happy to remind him.
Stroke of Luck heralds the opening salvo in B.J. Daniels’ new Sterling’s Montana series. Teeming with suspense, danger, and exciting, action-packed scenes, this first installment features Will Sterling and Poppy Carmichael. They were childhood friends, but their parting twenty years ago was not pretty. Now, Poppy is out for a reckoning.
Most of this story takes place at the Sterling Montana Guest Ranch located just outside Glacier Park in Whitefish, Montana. This is Will’s first year running the Ranch without his father. Will, Garrett and Shade Sterling are the owners now since their father died last year. Against Will’s best judgment, the ranch is opening early for four days to accommodate an insistent request by Big Jack Hanson who was a good friend of Will’s father. Opening early means that the ranch is short-staffed and the unpredictable weather can turn brutal quickly. Since the ranch is off the beaten path, a storm could strand guests, but Big Jack accepts the risks of holding a retreat for some of his employees at the Ranch now.
As the tale opens, Dorothea Brand, the Ranch’s housekeeper, sets the tone by insisting that “bad luck always comes in threes.” In her mind, two have already occurred. The Ranch’s cook has been laid up with a broken leg and Will has hired his old childhood friend with a probable grudge against Will to cook. Whatever could be the third? Regardless, the retreat is off to a bad start from the get-go as the unhappy employees are tense, don’t want to be there and don’t like each other.
Poppy was a successful, talented businesswoman with stunning green eyes and an assuredness about her. The last time she’d seen Will, she was twelve and he was fifteen. Now he was all man, all cowboy and a confirmed bachelor. This time around, she wants him to want her while she leaves him in her dust and breaks his heart. Will he succumb to her culinary seduction and will it play out as she’s planned?
I liked both primary characters, but while I often wish that B.J.’s books would include slightly more romance, the relationship angst herein was repetitive at times and, unfortunately, a tad too much. Also, it seemed incongruous to have a fifty-year-old housekeeper who thought she was a witch and always threatening to put curses on guests smack dab in a western guest Ranch. That said, I still enjoyed the tale.
The food in this entry had me salivating. The author even includes some delicious-sounding recipes in the back of the book. If Will brings back his old cook after experiencing Poppy’s cooking, he’s insane.
Following please find a few of my favorite lines from Stroke of Luck:
“What are old friends for?”
“That woman is here to destroy you,” she whispered.
“The two of you can’t really be thinking about… not at a time like this.“
Poppy had to laugh. “Is there a better time?”
“I have a killer loose on the ranch and all I can think about is kissing you again.”
Solving the mystery and keeping everyone alive with a killer or killers on the prowl must be the primary focus even as their second chance at romance stews. As always, Daniels’ writing is sharp and her characters are complex and intriguing. Even though this didn’t end up being one of my favorite B.J. Daniels’ books, it’s still a good story that kept me readily turning the pages. The edition I read included a preview of the next book, Luck of the Draw, which will feature Garrett Sterling’s story. It sounds great and I can’t wait to read it.
Suggested Reading Order:
Stroke of Luck (Book #1)
Just His Luck (Book #2)