Former Navy SEAL, and Personal Security Specialist Rhys Bennett is in Canyon Springs to mend after being shot on his last assignment.
His wound has healed and it’s almost time for him to go back to work, but he’s worried. The sixth sense that’s kept him alive so far is MIA.
For Scarlett Jones, being in Canyon Springs is her chance at a fresh start after a devastating tragedy. She’s desperate for her design business to be successful. But when things keep going wrong on her latest remodel, panic sets in. Is someone sabotaging the worksite on purpose or is it all in her head?
Realizing the distracting Scarlett is in trouble, Rhys puts aside his self-doubt and volunteers to protect her. Watching over the beautiful redhead won’t be too difficult. Or so he thinks until a body is discovered and the mystery surrounding Scarlett turns potentially deadly.
Will Rhys be up to the task of keeping Scarlett safe or will the killer get away with murder twice?
AUTHOR GUEST POST
“Thank you for inviting me to talk about my latest book Justified Burden. It’s always a pleasure to chat about my books and the behind-the-scenes world that happens as I am writing them.
My world is a wee bit of a crazy place. I get asked a lot about the inspiration for my books. In truth, I am rarely inspired by anything enough to write a book about it. The ideas just come to me out of the blue. I try not to ask too many questions 🙂
I’m what’s called a pantser. I don’t plan out my books. I know a few points I want to include, but I let the characters tell their stories for the most part. I have plotted out books in the past, but I never write them once I finish plotting. Knowing what’s going to happen makes them less interesting to me. I know how that must sound but think of it this way; if you picked up a book and immediately knew the ending, would you bother to spend the money and invest the time to read the rest? That’s how it is for me as an author. Why spend the time and energy if I know what’s going to happen? I’d rather be on the edge of my seat, waiting to see how the story turns out.
Justified Burden was no exception. I had no idea who the ‘bad guy’ would be, nor did I know what would happen. I new as soon as Rhys walked on the page in Justified Misfortune (my first entry in the Brotherhood Protectors World), he had to have his own book. He demanded it, and I love that about him. He’s demanding at times but has a big heart, and he’s a sucker for a woman in need of help.
Scarlett came to me fully formed as well. I knew her backstory, and what she wanted from the moment she popped into my head. Scarlett is a go-getter and doesn’t want to let anything stop her, but she’s also vulnerable since she is still recovering from a recent trauma. She is the perfect partner for Rhys, strong but in need of a bit of help. I had such fun writing their story.
Justified Burden challenged me in a surprising way. I had never written a Christmas story before. I found it difficult because I was writing it in the middle of summer. Wearing shorts and sitting in the sun made it very hard to create that Christmas mood. I resorted to eating gingerbread cookies and listening to Christmas music to help me along. Tough job, I know.
I truly loved writing Rhys and Scarlett’s story, and I hope you enjoy reading it”
“Scarlett Jones’s heart swelled as she pulled into the parking lot of the Wellness Retreat at Canyon Springs. She was proud of the redesign she’d done, and when it opened in two and a half short weeks, everyone would finally see it.
After parking, she climbed out of her SUV. It was still dark and somewhere near the twenty-degree mark. She shivered. So many Christmas songs talked up snow, and having a white Christmas had sounded so jolly when she lived in California. The reality was less cheerful and more bone-chilling., especially at five am. Being awake at this hour was a crime against nature, she was sure. At least against her nature”
“An unknown subject has been harassing you, spying on you, and following you for weeks. This is no time to play around. Could it be some idiot with no real ulterior motives? Maybe. But it could also be a stalker and I will not risk your life because you were too worried about your reputation to bring in law enforcement. A career can be fixed. I do not possess the power to bring back the dead”
“He needed to maintain distance and objectivity and, most importantly, he needed to be able to focus. Because he knew firsthand, bad things happen when he got distracted on a job”
“I don’t need to prove anything to anyone, least of all myself”
Okay! So I’ll admit right off, that I don’t tend to read these ‘happy ever after’ romantic/suspense novels on too regular a basis, however they are great way to ratchet down the tension between the more hardcore psychological thrillers which make up a large percentage of my reading schedule. I also know just how relaxing Lori’s writing style is and how she can add her own flavour to any storyline. This book is one of two which Lori has written, since she has taken up the mantle of contributing to the ‘Brotherhood Protectors’ series, which was originally begun by her fellow author Ella James and has now been expanded as the ‘Brotherhood Protectors World‘, with books being added to the series by many other authors.
The first couple of pages set the scene and then the tension begins to build straightaway; as we head into a storyline full of disturbing intrigue and gripping tension; towards an ending of love, new beginnings and a closure to events which hopefully belong firmly in the past.
Two new arrivals to this small Montana town, Rhys, a personal protection specialist and Scarlett, an interior designer, find themselves front and centre of the action, not through any fault of their own, but simply by virtue of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. They bring with them a youthful breath of fresh air, but each are running from their own personal hidden sorrows and past life-changing events, which they are trying to come to terms with and get into some kind of perspective, as they strive to move on with their lives. Romance is the last thing either of them have on their agendas. Nor do either of them want to be drawn into a murder most cold-blooded and foul, leaving them at the mercy of a vengeful stalker who will stop at nothing to find what they seek so avidly, and who is more than desperate enough to wreak revenge on those who might stand in their way.
For such a small town, it seemed that there were plenty of people with hidden agendas and a past they would have much rather had remained in the shadows, so my suspect list started off with several names on it, then one by one I ruled them out of my enquiries, until just three names remained. Then, by some skilful manipulation of the narration and dialogue, several red herrings and some added twists in the storyline, Lori successfully threw me off the scent, until almost the very last minute, when I managed to work things out (okay, I guessed!), just ahead of the big reveal. There also appeared to be an inordinate amount of law enforcement, with invisible lines having been drawn down the town between the different forces, which brooked no interference between one and the other. With embezzlement, missing millions, murder, attempted murder, stalking and criminal damage to deal with, it didn’t take much to imagine them all falling over one another for a piece of the action, which they did, which wasn’t pretty and didn’t make for a cohesive plan of action, or any real sense of purpose.
With something to prove to himself and his prospective new employers, Rhys and the Brotherhood Protectors, set about keeping an increasingly fragile Scarlett safe and out of harms way, as the perpetrator becomes more and more desperate and dangerous. This fast-paced, multi-layered story, is rich in atmosphere, with a finely balanced and compelling blend of an intriguing murder/mystery and some racy, sultry, erotic romance. As the suspense heightens, the tension ramps up and ever increasingly dangerous events draw Rhys and Scarlett further into their clutches, the couple are literally thrown together, so it isn’t difficult to work out, that the action between them personally, is only heading in one direction, the bedroom!
The visually descriptive, sometimes dynamic and rich, often compassionate and sentimental, narrative and dialogue, is fluid and compelling. This escape into story, is told with heart, passion and sometimes the odd flash of humour, by an author who knows exactly where she is going with her storyline and how she needs her characters to react and empathise.
Lori, really focussed on achieving a good mix of slightly quirky characters, with several of them who play small cameo roles in the story, kept suitably undefined as they are rather on the sidelines of the action. However the main characters are all multi-faceted, engaging, well defined and developed, if also emotionally complex and vulnerable. There was some good synergy and dynamics between them and I found them more than easy to connect with and invest in.
A perfectly pitched blend makes Justified Burden as chilling as it is erotic and sexy, drawing me in from that very first page with a relentless pacing and emotional depth that resonated long after the cover was closed – and remember… “The female of the species is definitely more deadly than the male, in Canyon Springs”
I purchased a review copy of this book from Amazon via Kindle.
Any thoughts or comments are my own personal opinion and I am in no way being monetarily compensated for this, or any other article which promotes this book or its author.
I personally do not agree with ‘rating’ a book, as the overall experience is all a matter of personal taste, which varies from reader to reader. However some review sites do demand a rating value, so when this review is posted to such a site, it will attract a well deserved 4 out of 5 stars!
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