Formats available: paperback, ebook, audiobook
Series: Jackson Hole #10
Published by HQN Books on December 29th 2015
Purchasing Info: Author's Website, Publisher's Website, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Bookshop.org
Once upon a ranch in Wyoming…
After losing his comrade, Sergeant Gil Hanford thought a visit to the man's widow would be the decent way to honor his late friend. But Gil found more than comfort in Kai Tiernan—he had always secretly desired beautiful Kai, but a sudden, mutual passion helped assuage their grief… until duty reared its head, removing him from her arms, seemingly forever.
Four years later, Kai is starting over at the Triple H Ranch in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Born a rancher, she is looking for a new beginning—but her new boss is unforgivably familiar. Kai has tried to move past the memory of what happened between her and Gil, even though she's never forgiven him for leaving her. But even as they begin their journey toward something new and oh-so-uncertain, a shadow emerges, determined to claim Kai for itself.
Night Hawk is a combination of several themes that I have come to enjoy recently. It’s a small town/contemporary western romance, with two strong ex-military protagonists. And it has just a touch of romantic suspense thrown in.
Also, this particular story in McKenna’s Jackson Hole series is a second-chance-at-love story, and I’m always a sucker for one of those.
However, this is book 10 in an ongoing series, and I’ll confess to not having read any of the preceding books. I picked it up because I read and enjoyed some of McKenna’s romantic suspense in the past, and this looked good. While I know that I missed some nuances among the continuing characters by not having read the rest of the series, this was still a good place to start. Both of the main characters in the book are also new to the series, the ranch and the area. Our hero, Gil Hanford, has only been at Triple H a few months, and heroine Kai Tiernan comes to the ranch as a new mechanic and wrangler.
There was one part of the story where I think my previous unfamiliarity made a difference, and I’ll get back to that after the rating. But for the most part, as we are mostly following Kai’s perspective in this story, as people, places and things are introduced to her, they are introduced to any new readers to the series.
When Kai meets foreman Gil Hanford at the Triple H, it is far from their first meeting. And there lies the romantic and sexual tension in the story, as well as most of the arguments, hurt feelings and distrust.
Like many of the men who have come to work at the Triple H, Gil isn’t merely ex-military, he’s ex-Special Forces. And so was Kai’s late husband Sam. Gil and Sam were in the same unit, and Gil was the one to comfort Kai when Sam was killed in action. Kai was also stationed at Baghram, she was one of the mechanics who fixed vehicles on base for all the units stationed there, including the Special Forces Teams.
As long as Sam was alive, Gil and Kai were never anything more than friends. Gil may have been just as much in love with Kai as his buddy was, but he never let it show. At least not until five memorable days and glorious nights, a year after Sam was killed, when Gil’s brother Rob was also KIA. Gil and Kai shared something special, something that was more than just sex, but still contained a whole lot of heat between the sheets.
On the final morning, Gil disappeared, and Kai felt used. Who wouldn’t? But now they are both out of the service and the small world of western ranches has brought them both to the same place at the same time. With a chance for all the explanations that Gil never gave. And a chance for the wounds to heal so that they can discover if what they had was real, and if it can last.
At least until they discover that someone out there has both of them in his sights, and he’s aiming to kill.
Escape Rating B: First of all, I really loved the atmosphere of the Triple H Ranch. It just seems like a really great place with terrific people. The owner, Talon Holt, is himself ex-Special Forces, and he has a track record of hiring his fellow veterans. He is also struggling, trying to bring his family’s ranch back to profitability after years of neglect. In addition to caring for his mother, who is battling cancer, Talon has also kept his military dog, Zeke, a Belgian Malinois with a grip like steel and a heart of gold.
The Triple H is a place where anyone would be proud and happy to work, and it makes a great setting.
I also enjoyed that this story has a secondary romance between Talon’s mother Sandy and their combination cook and accountant, Cass. Just because Sandy has had some tough knocks in her life, doesn’t mean she isn’t ready to try again, as long as it’s the right man. Cass and Sandy’s love story was sweet and made a nice counterpoint to the sometimes angry hot and sometimes smokin’ hot romance between Gil and Kai.
While there were reasons for Gil’s abandonment of Kai way back when, he did compound the issue by staying away after his duties were done. That his abrupt departure all too closely resembled Kai’s father’s treatment of her created some really deep wounds. They have a lot of trust to recover before they had a chance at happiness, and the author worked through that in the story.
However, the suspense angle of the story hit this reader new to the series as a bit out of left field. It also included an unfortunate misunderstandammit. Everyone in town seems to know that Chuck Harper is a villain. But everyone equally protects Kai from learning that Harper has a history of becoming obsessed with women and making them disappear when they reject him. They all think that just informing Kai that Harper is under investigation for drug trafficking will be enough to keep her away from the dude. At the same time, Harper is courting Kai by offering the services of his ace machine shop at bargain rates, and Kai, and the Triple H, need access to prime tools to keep their old farm equipment operational. The reader sees trouble coming miles away, because Kai doesn’t have the information to evaluate the true threat.
I also think that Harper’s dirty deeds have roots in earlier stories that I haven’t read. So his part of this plot loomed much more annoying than large because of my and Kai’s lack of information.
I still really enjoyed Kai and Gil’s story, and I’ll be happy to take another trip out to the Triple H.
~~~~~~ GIVEAWAY ~~~~~~
Lindsay is giving away a copy of Wolf Haven, book number 9 in the Jackson Hole series, to one lucky U.S. or Canadian commenter.