Alex Ward solved a murder last summer by getting kidnapped. Dylan Chaves, a former high school sweetheart, helped save her then, and they found their mutual attraction stronger than ever. But, no one quite understood what forces were working to turn their sleepy little Arizona desert town into a hotbed of intrigue. In fact, they thought it was over.
Now, the murder of a distant relative puts Dylan in the midst of a cartel war, and Dylan learns something about himself that threatens to put their budding romance at risk. Alex can feel alliances shifting as old secrets come to light. Can she compete with Dylan’s complex and growing responsibilities, or must she let him go to follow her own life’s dream?
Fatal Divide is Book 2 of the Desert Heat series.
Many thanks to the author, Jamie Jeffries, who provided me a free copy of this entire series (yes, she’s THAT awesome) in exchange for my honest review.
**Small Spoiler Alert**
Once again, our hero Dylan Chaves cannot keep his pretty little tail out of trouble. (Seriously, props for the cover art in this series.) While patrolling the Organ Pipe National Monument park where he works as a Forest Ranger, Dylan and his partner notice a flock of buzzards circling. This isn’t an uncommon occurrence, but in this area of the country there are many illegal border crossings, and so they are obliged investigate when they see a large gathering of the scavengers. They find the body of an elderly man, shot through the heart. They call it in, but Dylan recognizes the man. He’s not an illegal, he is Native, part of the local Tohono O’odham Tribe. The man is on the tribal council, the same one that is currently debating whether or not to approve of Dylan’s adoption of his two little half-brothers, who are fully Native. The man was the only holdout on the council. It looks bad for Dylan to admit that he knew him, but he knows he has no choice. The local sheriff hates his guts for various unknown reasons, and would love nothing more than to be able to pin this crime on him.
Dylan gets a call from his “aunt”, Wanda Lopez. If you read the last book, you will know that Wanda is the mayor of Dodge, is Native, and was instrumental in organizing Alex’s (Dylan’s girlfriend and the other MC of this series) rescue party. She has a favor to ask of Dylan, after she tells him some long buried family secrets. The murder victim is her grandfather, and he was harboring one of her brothers, who is on the run from the cartels. She’s convinced that the cartel killed her grandfather and wants Dylan’s help to get her brother safely out of the area. The brother has gone ghost since the murder, and Dylan would have to find him to help him.
Here’s where it gets muddy. You see, all his life, Dylan has assumed that he’s not fully Native - his mom is, but as far as he knows his dad was Latino and probably illegal. Dylan has never known him. He wasn’t raised on the reservation or within the tribal structure; you get the feeling that his mom wasn’t really welcome there. This is why the tribal council has a say in the adoption of his two brothers - they are full O’odham, because their dad was. Wanda drops an old family secret on him, along with some history.
History first….. When the border lines were drawn between the US and Mexico, they cut straight through O’odham territory. None of the Natives paid any attention to the border until the US started enforcing the territory, in an effort to keep illegals out. The O’odham, many of which who had been born on the reservation and had never registered for a SS# were stuck - they couldn’t cross the border without a passport to see their relatives on the other side, or to do trade as they normally would have. This led to poverty on both sides of the border. The cartels offered a way out for some of the Native youth, giving them what they desperately needed - money - to ferry drugs across the border. Wanda is of the opinion that all O’odham should be given free rein to cross back and forth the border as they please because it was their land in the first place.
Wanda shocks Dylan by telling him that he is fully O’odham. His father’s family was a prestigious one, and they were determined to keep them away from each other. His mom from the Mexico side of the line, and was not nearly of the social status that he was. He was sent off to boot camp, but they secretly married as soon as they got out town His father planned to send for her as soon as he graduated. Unfortunately, he was stationed in Beirut right after graduation and was killed in the Marine barracks bombing.
By then his mom had found out that she was pregnant and didn’t know what to do. In her grief and confusion she destroyed their marriage license. Shunned by the tribe, she resigned herself to raising Dylan on her own, outside of the tribe that had been all she had known all of her life. I wondered if that, more than anything else, led to her alcoholism. Sadly, she led a life of loneliness and despair. She is now barely a shell of her former self, her body ravaged by cancer, and her mind long since passed on. I can applaud the action and cohesiveness of the main stories in this series, but think on this: Dylan’s mom’s story is a horror story of epic proportions. I shudder just to think about it.
Dylan is in shock - both happy and angry. Wanda tells him that she will pave the way to get him registered with the tribe, which would expedite his adoption hearings, if he will agree to help her and her fugitive brother. He agrees, but demands that Wanda explain all of this to Alex, as he refuses to keep this a secret from her. Alex takes it well, but like Dylan feels slightly betrayed by Wanda. She gained her political office on the platform of ending illegal border crossings, and finding out that she privately had this caveat threw everyone, including me, for a loop. Having secured Dylan’s help in the escape plan Wanda begins searching for Jimmy. But the local sheriff still suspects both Dylan and Wanda in the murder, and so decides to start his own investigation into both of them. Alex is torn, because it soon becomes obvious that she is privy to information that the police do not. As a reporter, it irks her that she is unable to print her information as well. Wanda’s search for Jimmy leads to disaster, as she is brought to the attention of a rival cartel. She is kidnapped, leaving Alex and Dylan desperately searching for both her, and her missing relative. With the cartel on one side of the equation, and the law on the other Dylan and Alex must find the balance that will keep them both alive.
The action in this book was top notch, once again. This series is consistently fast paced and fun to read. I enjoyed the history of the O’odham tribe, and was glad to discover that Dylan was a full member. It’s fascinating how the tribe was split and how the cartels capitalized on the tribe’s poverty. I’m looking forward to learning more and seeing how Dylan interacts with his new-found extended family. He’s been on the outside of it his entire life, because he thought his father was not O’odham, so he’s kind of been a man without a country all this time. It will be interesting to see how it changes him.
As far as him and Alex - I’m surprised how invested I am in this relationship. I really want it to work out for them. Alex wants nothing more than to follow her dream of being a serious news reporter, and the only way to do that is to further her education. There are forces at work trying to tear their relationship apart - she dreams of leaving town towards a bright future, while Dylan only wants to gain custody of his brothers. He wants to propose to Alex, but is hesitant - why would any 19 year old want a ready made family, complete with two small children, when she has barely lived herself? I can see both sides, and I am hoping for the best for them.
The next and last book in this series is Fatal Intent: look for my review soon.
About the Author:
Jamie Jeffries is the pen name of a successful author with published novels under other pen names in addition to her titles under this name. She likes to bring a bit of the unusual, the unlikely and the humorous to her plots. Jamie brings you heroines who overcome hard challenges, sweet, sexy heroes with a hint of alpha male, and side characters you'll love to hate or laugh with.
When she isn't writing (which is almost never) Jamie enjoys reading, hiking in the foothills near Denver, live blues music, karaoke and now and then indulging in her karaoke habit.
Jamie would love to let you know when she releases a new book, runs a promotion on an existing title, or has a giveaway running. Please go to www.jamiejeffriesbooks.com and join her fan community! You'll receive a complimentary ebook copy of Jamie's first novel, Impermanent, in appreciation.
Caution: whether reading or writing, Jamie bites when interrupted in the middle of a good chase scene, whether it's bad guys chasing the hero in cars, or the hero chasing the heroine around the bedroom.