While fighting in Afghanistan, Major Grant Barrett receives devastating news: his brother and sister-in-law have been murdered in Scarlet Falls, the sleepy suburb of Grant’s youth. Emotionally scarred from war, the career soldier returns home on emergency leave to temporarily care for his orphaned nephew and niece. But when someone tries to kidnap the kids and their teenage babysitter, Grant knows it’s not a random act…and neither were the murders.
Already devastated by her neighbors’ violent deaths, Ellie Ross is shattered by the attempted abduction of her teenage daughter so she desperately turns to Grant for help. As they navigate a deadly search for the truth, they struggle with growing feelings for each other and Grant’s impending return to deployment.
But time is running out. The killer is growing bolder by the hour, and Ellie and Grant must find him before the children become his next victims.
Something new from Melinda Leigh, why yes, I must have and read, thank you! :) Needless to say this is a new series of Melinda’s and if book 1, Hour of Need, is setting the pace for this series its going to be one helluva series. Not that we would ever expect anything but the best from Melinda. I love her books, that is no secret. The thrill I get from her books is friggin' awesome. I cheer on the good guys and curse the bad guys. (laughs) Sometimes out loud and loudly. But that is art of getting into a good book. And this one here does not disappoint in any way. From page one it was getting into the nitty gritty of it all. I can’t wait until the next one is here! Now, onto the review.
***small spoiler alert***
Scarlet Falls, New York. A small town above Albany is a quaint town. One of old time values and hard work but their quiet little community is yet again scaved with the color red after Lee Barrett and his wife Kate are both murdered on their way home from a night out to celebrate their wedding anniversary. When Major Grant Barrett who is Afghanistan on yet another tour in the middle east gets the devastating news that his baby brother and his wife have been killed he hops on a plane to come home. His thoughts are with his family but the main focus at first are his nephew Carson who is 6 and his niece Faith who is only a few months old. Then back to his questions of why? Why his brother?
Meanwhile the Barrett’s neighbor Ellie is informed of their deaths when an officer comes to their home. Ellie’s daughter is there babysitting and to say they are hurt and shocked is an understatement. Ellie works at the same law firm as Lee Barrett. They have been friends for years. She offers to keep the kids but the woman from social services won’t allow it. So Ellie has to pack up the kids and send them with her until the necessary paperwork to be able to keep them until some of Lee’s family arrives comes in. (Gotta love Red tape.) When Grant arrives in town he meets with a detective who gives him what information he can on the killing. they think it was just a robbery but they aren't sure. They are still investigation. its Sunday night now. The kids can come home in the morning and grant needs to get his head on straight and get make sure the house is ready for them. When he arrives at his brothers house he is reunited with Ellie (in a way) and she lets him borrow her spare key to get in. He and Carson’s dog Annabelle will be the only ones in the house tonight.
When the kids come home the next day Grant tries to get them inside and into a routine, if you can call it that. Carson is so scared at first to even let him go, he just clings to Grant. The old lady from child services, with in minutes becomes someone he doesn't like but he dismisses her and tries to get the kids settled into the house again. But I think the Major has met his match with baby Faith. Ha. Projectile vomiting and a shrieking 4 month old wasn't quite what he expected The night only gets a bit worse. Faith is up until almost 2 a.m., Carson wakes up crying from a nightmare and Grant, who is exhausted finally manages to get them all to sleep. After he wakes the next morning he fixes breakfast.. well technically Carson fixed the frozen waffles and they have breakfast. By the time his sister Hannah gets there Grant is already tired again. Neither of them have heard from their brother Mac yet so Grant loads them all up, dog included into the minivan and heads out to his cabin.
They hadn’t heard from him because he was camping and doing his research on river otters. The poor man had only been home a few hours and did not take the news well that his brother and sister-in-law had died. Though who could blame him. When they (Grant, Hannah and the kids) get back home Grant hurries them back out the house after he notices the kitchen drawers have been left open and things aren’t as he left them. Someone was in the house. He send Hannah off in the minivan with the kids to call the police and he goes in and searches the house. By the time the cops get there he has the house cleared and then the police search it. He manages to catch Julia (the neighbor's kid) as she comes home from the bus stop and asks her to sit for an hour so he and Hannah can talk to the cops.
When Ellie gets home there is a note that not only is Julia next door so is Nan. Nan had made them food and for the first time today Carson was actually eating. Grant and Ellie move to his brother's office to chat but what Grant wants to know she can’t tell him. She does however ask for his case files and when he refuses she gets pissy. Because if she doesn’t get what she is looking for she will be in deep shit. So what next? How will they cope with what is going on if they are both at a stand off with each other? Later when Mac came over they all went through the case files Grant had boxed up to take to Lee’s boss. Nothing out of the ordinary. Nothing that would warrant him and his wife being killed. But Hannah did go through their financials and find out they were broke. Good news -even if its bad timing- is that their life insurance will pay off their debts -for the most part- and maybe have a little left over.
Things between Grant and Ellie grow more tense as he pressures her to tell him what she knows of the Hamilton case. Nothing. But he knows she has been acting funny for the last few days. Something has to add up but what. Ellie’s mind is on other things like the fact that her daughter was almost kidnapped just before she arrived at Grant’s. Carson and Faith had been in danger as well. Thankfully Julia had enough courage to put herself between the kids and the offending man. Hannah heard the screaming and was able to come out and literally chase the bastard away. Finally Grant is able to break her down. She tells him about the man that took her at gunpoint and demanded she find the Hamilton file or her family dies. This spurs Grant back into action. There is no way he is letting this man get the rest of his family or Ellie’s.
As the investigation goes on, the ‘hoody man’ gets on the offensive more. The text messages and threats get more and more intense. They are running out of time. Grant decides to make a fake file. Its the only way to catch who is actually doing this. He is tired of sitting back and letting the cops take forever to get this guy. When Ellie gets the text “Do you have the file” Grant tells her to reply “yes”. When the next text comes in it tells her where and when to meet the person with the file. But what that person doesn’t know is its Grant that will meet him and not Ellie. Grant drops Ellie off at the skating rink with Julia and heads for the destination to meet the one who sent the text. When the man shows up he gets more than he bargained for that is for sure. Grant and Mac pounce and take him down. Then when its not who they think it is they know they have to split up. Grant steals… I mean borrows the bad guys car and hauls ass back to the house. Mac goes to the rink to get Ellie and Julia.
When Grant gets on the street leading to the house fear and panic hit him. The house is on fire. Seems the asshole he was hunting for decided to make his presence known, again. Thankfully Grant jumped him as he headed to the minivan where Hannah had locked Carson and Faith in so she could rush back into the burning house for Nan (who is still on crutches after her fall) and the dog. After Grant um... incapacitates.. well lets just say it, he beats the shit outta the man (laughs hard) Grant runs in to help his sister and they all make it out of the house in one piece. An unharmed. But the fun doesn't end there.. no that would make life easier. They are looking for cell phones to call Ellie when Carson says he has one he found in his mommy’s van. When the detective takes the phone he finds evidence no one knew about. And they know what happened to that poor Hamilton girl.
Grants mind goes straight to Ellie… his need to get to her intensifies and the detective takes him to the rink. And just in time to see the other ass in this case holding Ellie hostage. A gun to her head. In a matter of minutes everything plays out in a quick succession. The guy with the gun moves, Ellie slings her daughters skates at his face and the cops shoot. He is taken down and Ellie gets away unharmed. Grant thought for a minute he was going to lose her. And that was not something he was willing to do. Once they finish up at the police station with everything. The fire, the incident at the rink they all go to a hotel and crash. Its time to start putting things in order and getting their lives back the way they should be.