Published by Escape Publishing on October 24th 2016
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Ebony Blakely has her life nearly exactly where she wants it. She’s a country vet with a successful business in Hunters Ridge, a town that she loves, and has a close group of friends. The only thing missing is romance. Unfortunately, the man she wants treats her as a good friend, and no matter how much she tries to change that perception, he just won’t get it.
Lee Dalton is an ex-cop with a chip on his shoulder about his past. He’s determined to make a success of his building business – and keep his thoughts away from his best friend’s sister, Ebony. But seeing Ebony every day as he works on her surgery renovation makes that almost impossible and soon their hidden feelings begin complicate their friendship.
When it becomes apparent Ebony’s life is in danger, she is scared but determined not to run. But following an earlier encounter Lee knows what these monsters are capable of and is forced to use everything he’s ever learnt as a policeman to keep her safe. Because these monsters are serial killers, and they’ll stop at nothing to claim their prize.
I’d waited long for Ebony’s and Lee’s story and frankly, this book was hard to review because as well-written and suspenseful as it is, the romance does take a back-burner on this one: Ebony and Lee don’t get their act together until 3/4 of the book and for most of it, I didn’t feel as though their relationship was going to progress, let alone get to the point where I could be convinced Lee could ever feel as much as Ebbs did for him.
When it comes to suspense, ‘Shadows of Hunters Ridge’ is exceptionally entertaining and thrilling: shadowy threats from the previous book are carried over, and the dangers rack up and close in on Ebony Blakely, a successful country vet whose expanding business does get her entangled in the wrong and dangerous company. The bad guys don’t get caught, even though they do sometimes venture into clichéd territory and by the end of the breathless climax, we aren’t entirely yet clear about this operation that can’t seem to be shut down. But if I liked how the plot has been centred mostly around this particularly strong, independent woman and how she navigated these conflicts, the romantic hero seemed rather weak and cowardly in comparison, because romance-wise, I wasn’t too convinced about a pairing where Ebony spent too much time being on the unrequited side of things.
In many ways, Lee and Ebony do conform to the clichéd stereotypes of the romantic leading hero and heroine: Lee is in fact in yet another casual relationship with another (vengeful and jealous) woman for a good half of it, then displays the usual doubts about not poaching the best friend’s sister while dating every other woman who doesn’t match up for several years. Ebony, as beautiful as a runway model, has limited sexual experience in contrast and spends a lot of time in emotional pain because the man she wants will not notice her. I had hoped that Lee had to work for Ebony a little more, and was more than disappointed when she fell too easily into his arms when he finally got a clue about how she felt about him and was up in arms in disbelief when he finally rationalised that he’d loved her all along.
That said, I’m glad the series isn’t over yet: Mia’s story is perfectly set-up in the epilogue and I do want to know how Barrie levels it all out.