Most of the romances I review fall into the clean category. That's my goal, to share great clean romance because I know they are hard to find. This series doesn't fall into that category. I wanted you to know that up front. However, I loved these books so much I had to share them with you. I also appreciated that although Ruggle has sex scenes, they are not the purpose of the story. They don't happen just because it needed to be thrown in. And there is usually just one that is easy to skip (which is what I do so I can't comment on the quality of those scenes).
So, here are the three books in the series that are currently available.
Book 1--Hold Your Breath
I loved this book for the suspense and the growing romance. But seriously, the suspense and the mystery is what sucked me in, held me by the throat, and convinced me to click buy on book 2 in the series. Ruggle writes clean compelling stories. There is a mystery slowly unfolding over the course of the series, but there is a secondary threat/suspense line for each individual book as well.
In book one we meet Lou and Callum of the rescue dive team. Lou is a hoot! She says what she wants and has a tendency to find trouble. I mean, come on, she's practicing dive and rescue techniques when she kicks a headless body in the frozen lake! She's fairly new to the Colorado town, having finally left home and the controlling parents and ex-fiance. She'd determined to stand on her own two feet and make her own choices. She'll learn that letting the dive team become her new family, who has her back, is invaluable.
Callum is the quiet brooding type, but even he can't resist Lou's crazy energy. He's drawn to her and wants to make sure she stays safe at all costs. They just have to survive the line up of bad guys lurking in the shadows. (Having read the next two books, I'm going to stop there because I don't want to let any spoilers slip!)
We still don't know who killed Willard Gray (the headless guy from book 1), but the killer is doing all he can to frame firefighter Ian Walsh. Ian might be a firefighter, but some people can't forget or forgive the fact he grew up as part of the local motorcycle gang. To top it off, the "family" can't forgive him for moving toward the lawful side of things. Poor Ian doesn't seem to fit anywhere.
Neither does Rory. She runs her own gun shop and tries to keep all sides happy. In order to survive she has to sell to the motorcycle gang as well as the more trustworthy locals.
I have to admit I really loved all the gun talk. Who knew! Rory wants to be tough, but she needs Ian as much as Lou needed Callum. Rory's fears have her trying to keep him at arms length, but she's really been his since her 12th birthday when he bought her a pink cupcake. I love her social awkwardness and the way Ian keeps storming through her walls.
This book has guns, bombs, more fires from our serial arsonist, a few clues, but no real progress on Gray's killer. We do however take care of the people after Rory, and she learns to let a few more people into her solitary life.
Holy cow! I'm still reeling from the reveal at the end of this one! Okay, let me try to go back to the beginning...
Okay, Ellie and George. Ellie is Baxter's estranged daughter. For those who haven't read the first two books, Baxter was a war buddy of Willard Gray, the headless guy from book 1 (Hold Your Breath). Everyone is trying to find him in the hopes he can shed some light on the murder. He however has a lot of mental issues, the least of which is his inability to trust anyone. And the truth is, what he knows is reason enough to not trust anyone! Ellie comes to Colorado in an effort to find him and get him the help he needs. She doesn't really believe that bad guys are after him.
George agrees to lead Ellie to a cabin through miles of snow covered wilderness. The great thing about George is he is as anti-social as Rory, but worse because he only communicates in grunts. It's a product of being alone for so long. He's impressed with Ellie. She keeps going without complaining even though she's blistered and tired. He finds he likes taking care of her and entertains thoughts of "keeping her". Although that might sound creepy, coming from George it's really sweet.
The Anderson brothers are following the two through the wilderness in the hopes of being led to Baxter. They are trouble with a capital T, but the scarier part is they were put on the trail by the killer from book 1. At the end, we learn his identity.
I'll be honest, I was crushed! I've been secretly chanting "don't let it be ??" for a book and a half and now that I know I'm so sad! I read the teaser for book 4 and can't wait until it's available. There is a good reason given, but it's still sad that someone who seems so good could be the bad guy. I'm looking forward to seeing how the whole thing wraps up!
I give this series a 5 because I actually shelled out money for books 2, 3, and plan to buy the final book in the series.
1-5 scale and what it means:
1: I couldn’t even finish it / just plain bad
2: I hope I didn’t pay for this / disappointing
3: I didn’t hate it, but it was still missing something / forgettable but inoffensive
3.5: On the line between good and ok / like, not love
4: Solid mind candy / worth reading
4.5: So very close to perfection! / must read
5: I could not put it down and I’m still thinking about it! / a true treasure