Series: Christmas at the Carlisles
Author: Cassie Miles
Read copy: eBook
Published: October 1, 2009
A city slicker like Burke had no business being on her Colorado ranch.
But Carolyn Carlisle knew she needed him. Not only was the Carlisle Ranch a target for sabotage just weeks before Christmas, but also her family had been threatened and danger lurked around every corner. Carolyn was used to being in charge, but incredibly sexy FBI agent J.D. Burke had other ideas. He was domineering, stubborn and vowed never to let an assignment turn personal. Still, with the enemy just as elusive as the agent's penetrating gaze, Carolyn secretly hoped Burke would let down his guard and act on their intense chemistry. Even if one amazing night ended up breaking her usually hardened heart.
Carolyn Carlisle, CEO of her family's beef exporting company, quickly returns to the family ranch when her younger brother informs her the barn's been burnt down. Thankfully, her horse, Elvis, is safe, but she doesn't get the feeling her brother's marriage is equally so.
She overhears the spouses arguing and minutes later Nicole storms off on horseback. Carolyn hears shots, jumps on Elvis and goes to investigate. Nicole's bodyguard has been shot and Nicole is nowhere to be found.
Looks like kidnapping and Carolyn knows there's only one outcome - contact the FBI.
Two and a half hours later the calvary arrives, presided by the tall, dark, handsome, and taciturn Special Agent J.D. Burke. He exudes confidence and take-charge attitude and Carolyn knows they're bound to butt heads. She's not wrong...And she's not disappointed.
Well, girls (and occasional boy), I didn't think it was possible, I was despairing in fact, but I did it. I got meself a winner here! Yes! *pumps fist into the air* Yes!
This book was one of the best (Jenna Ryan 's stuff is still my favorite) Harlequin Intrigues I've read. Great plot, great pacing, great suspense, great tension, great UST, great characters, great interaction, great chemistry. I absolutely loved it.
The author veered from the usual Intrigue patterns of a sometimes obtuse and TSTL damsel in distress with emotional baggage and a hero with even more emotional baggage.
The main suspense plot did somewhat involve the heroine, her sister-in-law has been kidnapped, but the main conflict didn't center around her. Also, Carolyn was 33 years old, a mature woman that knew what she wanted, knew how to get it, and though she appeared rather unapproachable, stoic, stubborn and cold at the beginning, she had a pretty good reason. As the only woman on a cattle ranch, she had to learn to take charge at an early age, as a powerful CEO she had to prove herself on a daily basis. And that "take charge don't take orders" attitude just didn't go away as soon as the sexy FBI agent showed up.
But despite her nature, she knew when to back off, she knew when she was out of her depths, and knew when to let the big boys do their thing. I liked her from the start. She established and marked her territory, never raising her voice, never stopped being polite, but she made herself understood and heard.
And Special Agent J.D. Burke respected that. These two were two peas in the pod, which explains Carolyn's initial thought they would soon butt heads.
I loved Burke. For once we got a leading man without a painful past. Okay, there had been some pain, but that didn't prevent him from shutting off emotionally, it didn't make him shun commitment. Actually he was the first to say the C-word and the first to say the L-word. You gotta love a guy like that.
There were actually two villains in this story, two separate cases for the FBI to solve, and while one of them was solved to satisfaction (even with some bullets flying), the other was a real doozy. And that's the only complaint I have about this story. The rather abrupt ending and a whopper of a twist just before it. But since this is the first in a miniseries (the next two books, Bodyguard Under the Mistletoe and Secluded with the Cowboy coming in November and December), I guess I'll get my answers eventually. Along with, hopefully, some more details about Carolyn and J.D.
Yes, this one was definitely a winner. Out of the HI norm, wonderful characters, gripping suspense, lots of action, realistic portrayal of law-enforcement procedures, with perfectly placed humorous inserts to tone down the tension a bit when needed.
"Unputdownable" and a 5-star keeper!