by B.J. Daniels
Series: Beartooth Montana #4
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Just how far are people willing to go to keep their secrets? Protecting the citizens of Beartooth, Montana, is never an easy job. One year later, Sheriff Dillon Lawson still feels guilty that he couldn't save his twin brother, Ethan. But the biggest test of his bravery comes when Tessa Winters arrives, claiming to be pregnant…with Ethan's baby. At first, Dillon can't decide if this beautiful woman is a con artist or a victim. If Ethan didn't die in that car crash, then where is he—and why is he hiding? Now, Dillon is prepared to do anything to uncover the truth…anything except admit his growing feelings for Tessa. But with violence threatening, Tessa and Dillon must trust in each other to save not only themselves…but also Tessa's unborn child.
The cover and synopsis of Atonement by B.J. Daniels sold me, and then after I realized it was the fourth book in the Beartooth, Montana series. Worries about jumping in late were quickly dismissed as each book can be read as a standalone. Daniels did an excellent job of reintroducing older characters and making me feel comfortable. Mini review: suspenseful, multiple story threads and a slow-building romance kept me captivated.
Under Sheriff, Dillon Lawson is still feeling guilty about the death of his twin brother, Ethan even after a year. A very pregnant Tess Winters arrives at his ranch demanding he sign papers and return the money he stole he quickly realizes she thinks he is Ethan. Is she a con artist or victim? How can this babe be Ethan’s if he died a year ago? If he didn’t die in a car crash then where and why is he hiding? The tale that unfolds is action-packed with a few mysteries and a whole lota danger.
Right away I liked the characters we meet in Beartooth, Montana. Dillon is a noble, stand-up guy who blames himself for not being able to keep his brother straight. Tessa knew Ethan was trouble, but fell for his charismatic ways and the glimpse of the man inside him. The tale is told from several povs as we learn about Ethan and the crazy trouble he ran into. We also learn of further developments and troubles of local store owner Nette and the troubled Sheriff Frank. The characters each had a unique voice from the villains to the secondary characters adding to the suspense. The chemistry between Tess and Dillon was a slow burning and forbidden as they tried to find Ethan.
Atonement is pure suspense and a real whodunit with a clean, satisfying side of romance. Ethan’s troubles quickly become Dillon and Tessa’s as they uncover clues and stir up a hornet’s nest. We begin to see the players emerge and boy howdy are we all in trouble. The mystery thread regarding Frank and Nette was secondary but had me guessing and flipping the pages. Daniels balanced things wonderfully as she drove us towards the climatic endings. Forbidden romance is one of my favorite tropes and the slight triangle made me feel torn, but there was little to no angst and this thread remained on the side. When things did begin to develop they felt genuine and natural. Sometimes I felt a little disconnected, I think in part from jumping in at book four and then there was the multiple threads that left little page time with each.
Fans of mystery and suspense served with a side of romances will find Atonement to be a satisfying read. The previous books, Unforgiven, Redemption and Forsaken along with the novella Fallen are all available from paperback to eBook. The next book Mercy will release later this year.
Three and half cups of coffee out of five
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