Harlequin HQN, Jan 29 2013, $7.99
Jack French spent the last two years in prison doing forced ranch labor after being convicted for cattle rustling, a crime he did not do. After his release, he returns home to Beartooth, Montana with one mission in mind: enact vengeance on the unknown(s) who framed him.
While he did hard time, Kate LaFord relocated to Beartooth where she owns the Branding Iron Café. Beartooth General Store owner Lynette “Nettie” Benton persuades Sheriff Frank Curry to uncover the secrets of the enigmatic Kate and also wants to know more about her mysterious new tenant Tiffany Hayes. Lynette and Frank are attracted to each other though her remaining married but separated from her husband Bob (who resides in Arizona) leaves both hesitating to do more than harmlessly flirt. Having found a murdered corpse, Frank asks Lynette to look at a photo he found on the unidentified body; she confirms it is the dead for three decades Ackermann family. As Kate serendipitously searches for rumored gold that her mom swears exists, she and Jack meet and fall in love.
The latest Beartooth Big Sky romantic suspense (see Unforgiven) is an entertaining thriller as once again deaths from decades ago (and rumored lost gold) keep a firm grip on the townsfolk. Fast-paced from the moment Jack returns home as an unappreciated Good Samaritan and never decelerating, readers will enjoy this taut Montana tale with multiple (perhaps too many) mysteries and one and a half romances.