Genre: romantic suspense
A hot guy. A cool $ 1 million. The adventure of a lifetime is about to begin.
P.R. whiz Tess O'Mara is burned out. She's looking for a change - something wild and crazy. But nothing could prepare Tess for what she finds at the ATM machine: a computer glitch has deposited one million dollars into her bank account. Problem is, it's somebody else's money, somebody who's willing to kill to find it. - Suddenly Tess is running for her life, as fast and as far as she can go . . .
. . . until she reaches the sleepy desert town of Almost, Arizona. Sheriff T.J. McCall, is there to catch her as she careens into town and collapses from heatstroke in his arms. Cool, rugged TJ can handle anything, except the spoiled city girl with trouble in her wake. But as danger tracks Tess to her door, something unexpected happens that will transform two very different people, and one dusty dead-end town, forever . . .
For the last two years, Tess O’Mara has worked her butt off, to organize a millennium cruise for the super rich. Every tiny detail has been taken care off, and now, the year 2000 has begun, and the kick off event is a huge success. Her billionaire boss is very pleased with her, and has promised her a big bonus. And ordered her to take a week vacation. He himself will be going to the island he just bought and will be out of reach.
His strange best friend Julian is a kind of psychic, and he predicts that Tess will meet a man with sky blue eyes, in a place she has always known but not. An old place.
The next morning, Tess goes out shopping for groceries, but when the ATM tells her, she has over a million dollars in her account, groceries are forgotten! Tess goes on a shopping spree, buying gorgeous western clothes in a fancy boutique. She always wanted red cowboy boots. And this, and that, and 10 of those! And last but not least, a powder-blue Mercedes convertible. She has never owned a car before, but she has always wanted one of those. And a cappuccino machine! She loves coffee, but could never afford one of those machines. To top it all off, she finally gets a totally new haircut and amazing colour job. Luckily, the person who ordered the car has cancelled the order as he had to leave the country in a hurry, so Tess can drive it straight out of the showroom. She also donates a lot of money to charity, and to some of her elder neighbours who really need it.
But later at home, the amount is kind of bothering her. Her boss is generous, but that much money? So the next morning, she calls the bank, and when there is something strange about the deposit, she gets scared. Is it just the predicted millennium bug? Y2K? Or is it something more sinister? So she calls her big brother, who is something important in Washington and finance. And when he also can’t find out who deposited the money, as some code seems to be missing, he orders her to leave her home and go to the other side of the country, where one of his friends will be able to protect her. Things like this have happened elsewhere, and they did not end well for the persons who received the money. When he tells her not to spend the money, she has to confess that she has already done so, a lot.
Tess will have to drive to Almost, Arizona, and find his friend who is the sheriff there. He will protect her from anybody who manages to find her there. And Tess obeys her big brother as he doesn’t scare easily. But Arizona sure is not the vacation she was looking for! Maui was more to her liking.
After a big scare in the desert, she finally reaches her destination, only to collapse with a heat stroke. She did not drink any water, which is a must in the desert. And so the sheriff does his best to revive her, and gets her to drink more. TJ promised her brother he would look after Tess, and that did not mean ravage her! Even though the sure wants to! And as the hotel burned down a month ago, he has no choice but to take her home with him. He has to keep her safe, and that means in his sights.
Tess doesn’t want to at first, but when he explains things, she is rational enough to accept that which is necessary. She also makes rapid friends in town, not only due to the coffee she makes with her nifty cappuccino machine. Tess is a workaholic, and also very good at what she does. And so she helps the local diner owner to come up with a campaign to sell her chile products, a way to raise money for a local hospital and more.
Something strange is happening to Tess though, flashbacks to a life she lived long ago, to a warrior she loved, a love betrayed. The old Indian Miguel seems to know more about it, and he is waiting what will happen this time. Darkness is following Tess, like it did before.
Danger really did follow her to Almost, and JT has a hard time keeping Tess in his sights. Whenever she goes off on her own, she seems to find trouble. Tess sure does not want to fall for this handsome small town sheriff, who is a dead ringer for Mel Gibson in his prime, she knows she will go back to her hectic job in Boston as soon as this is over. And a long distance relationship between them will never work.
I really liked this novel, even though I was hoping for a bit more real suspense. It never got really exciting in that department. Mysterious things happened though, especially with the coyotes. Little hints here and there, but nothing definite. Perhaps I just think I know what I know. If this secondary storyline was really necessary, I don’t know.
I liked the mention of the millennium bug, and how people really thought it would mean the end of the world, when all electricity and such would come to an end, factories and computers would stop working. Luckily for all of us, it did not. I have not read a romance novel before with this as part of the plot, and it was fun.
I admired Tess. Her whole world is turned upside down, but she staid rational about it, and accepted that she needs protection. What was fun, was the part that even though she really cannot cook, she tries to make the hero a homecooked dinner. Which he usually gets everyday from his housekeeper. Or the local diner, so it is not something he is lacking in. Of course, everything is inedible and the kitchen is a mess. Our heroic hero stoically eats it though, and then ravages the heroine.
TJ McCall is quite happy being the sheriff in this small town, although he would like some more budget to hire more people. He has not had a day of in months. And now his old friend asks him to take care of his little sister, how can he refuse? He totally falls for her, and the friendly way she acts around people, genuinely interested in them. But can he convince her to stay with him, in Almost? Instead of rushing back to her busy job in the big city?
Christina Skye has written a nice stand alone novel, with some great characters. I was glad to have an epilogue in the end, stating what happened to some of the secondary characters I liked. Only the suspense parts could have been a bit more suspenseful. I never felt thrilled by it. The romance part was nice though, and not overly rushed or unbelievable.
© 2012 Reviews by Aurian