Sunday, April 27, 2014

Deadly Hunter - Rachel Lee (HRS #1792 - Mar 2014)

Series: Conard County: The Next Generation (Book 19)

With a scar on his cheek and wounds on his soul, the only thing Allison McMann's new neighbor reveals is his name. But when a toxin kills some cattle and Allison is charged with finding its source, Jerrod Marquette appoints himself her protector. The ex-military man has the skills to keep her safe, yet Allison doesn't need--or want--his help. His midnight eyes see too much, his powerful body ignites feelings long buried. Even when she learns of the danger lurking in the mountains she tracks, Allison can't help feeling the greatest danger lies within her white-hot lust for the mysterious outsider.

Another winning visit to Conard County.  At the end of Killer's Prey some cows were found that had been killed by a deadly toxin. The challenge now is to find out if it was an isolated incident or if there is more of it out there, and also to see how much contamination there is.  Allison is a local chemistry professor with some hazmat training.  She has been asked by the state to collect soil and water samples for testing and to see if she finds any more dead animals.  Her new neighbor, Jerrod, is concerned for her safety and appoints  himself her protector.  As a former special forces soldier, he has the skills to keep her safe and his instincts tell him that there is something going on out there in the woods.  Allison isn't so sure she's in danger out there, but she can feel a whole different threat to her peace - her attraction to Jerrod.

Both the romance and the suspense were great.  Allison's first encounter with Jerrod wasn't the most pleasant.  She said hello to him when he arrived next door and he pretty much ignored her until she slipped on the ice.  He came to check on her, helped her up, then walked away.  Jerrod is ex-special forces, medically retired, and is having a rough time adapting to civilian life.  Most of his adult life is classified so it's hard for him to talk to people because he can't tell them much about himself.  He feels bad about the way he treated Allison, so he goes over to apologize.  When he finds out that she's headed to the woods alone, he offers to go along to help.  It's while they are out there that he feels someone watching them and gets concerned for Allison's safety, a concern that seems warranted when her car is vandalized.  He worries that the person who poisoned the cows could hurt Allison to keep from being discovered.

Jerrod difficulties adjusting to civilian life have brought him to Conard County, a place he had heard about from a fellow soldier.  The wide open spaces and peace sound like just what he needs to try to get a handle on what he wants to do with his future.  He struggles with trying to talk to Allison because he is so unaccustomed to talking about himself, but there's something about her that makes him want to try.  He is also very sensitive to Allison's moods.  I loved the way he talked to her about her former boyfriend's shortcomings and the way he showed her how wonderful she really is.

There are so many differences between Allison and Jerrod that at first it's hard to see how they'll ever get together.  I loved seeing them get to know each other.  Allison feels like she should be more cautious around him, but her instincts tell her that she can trust him.  Her attraction to him is getting stronger but she has some real confidence issues when it comes to intimacy thanks to her former boyfriend.  I loved seeing the way that Jerrod handles her fears.  I also enjoyed the realism of the way that they occasionally said something that doesn't go over well, not because they're trying to hurt the other person but because their worlds are so different.

As the mystery intensified I really liked seeing characters from previous books, such as Jake and Gage, and how they all worked together to answer the questions.  There was a very interesting twist to the identity of the person behind the attacks.  I had begun to suspect the truth, though I ended up being slightly off on my conclusion.  It definitely increased the tension as the story built to the climax.  There was also tension between Jerrod and Allison as their two worlds collided.  Allison made a couple decisions that could have ended badly but worked out well in the end.

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