USA Today Bestselling Author
For Caleb, returning to his hometown for his brother’s wedding should have been cause for a wonderful celebration. However, since his brother is marrying Caleb’s ex-wife, Caleb doesn’t want to go anywhere near the event. Yet Caleb returns, as his best friend, Laysha, is in the same town, and they are overdue a reunion. Plus Caleb’s been asked to look into a War Dog adopted out but now missing.
Having Caleb back in town, at her house even, Laysha couldn’t be happier, all the while knowing Caleb still had issues with his ex-wife. When Caleb and Laysha take a trip to the last known residence where the War Dog had been and instead find a human corpse, life takes a dark turn.
Even worse, they are seen at the house and have both become targets … in a game Caleb has to win or will lose everything that’s important in his life.
The next war dog to be located is Beowulf, he was adopted by a couple who resided near the Mexican border in El Paso, Texas. Caleb immediately volunteers to go find him, he has reason to go to El Paso. His brother is getting married, although Caleb has a problem with the bride, she’s his ex-wife. He does have a place to stay, a large private place owned by his best friend Laysha.
Laysha shares some information with him that she figures he should know before he sees his brother, it seems that the baby Sarah lost while married to Caleb was actually his brother’s. This is not something to easily let go although it’s been years.
I loved the reunion between Caleb and Laysha’s dogs, especially the oldest one Graynor. You can tell the rapport Caleb has with animals with every reaction. This makes me very hopeful for when he finds Beowulf.
Caleb does get a rental from town, even though Laysha has offered to drive him around. He needs to check out the property where the adopting couple lived. Apparently they’ve moved away and the property is vacant. What they find is a surprise and gruesome.
With the authorities in charge of the scene, Caleb and Laysha take at look at the rest of the property, assuring the detective they would let him know if they find anything.
Caleb is also helping Laysha with some of the renovations she’s working on, including the refinishing the upstairs floors, quite the project for one person but goes so much faster and easier with two. They are both very aware that they are sleeping not far from each other, wondering why they never got together other than friends.
The wedding is looming but Caleb still needs to find Beowulf so he returns to the property to follow some vague hair clues. The trail leads him to a small town across the Mexican border. He visits a cantina and leaves the proprietor with a way to reach him if anyone can give him information about the dog. It’s after this visit that things become interesting.
Jackson has been in contact with Laysha, but he really needs to be talking to his brother not her. Once Caleb arrives back there is much discussion and finally as she works on the floors Caleb gets lunch together.
This is a favorite and a rather harrowing scene.
“So I understand that you got in the middle of something that was their problem, and they shouldn’t have involved you, and that’s what they should be apologizing for. She was carrying his baby, and she was pining for him the whole time, but she married you and duped you into thinking that she cared about you. And he duped you into thinking he didn’t give a shit about her.”
“Great, so I’m just a big dupe, is that it?” He glared at her.
“There’s no sugarcoating it,” she said. “It sucks all the way around. But you also weren’t happily married, and you’re better off away from it all.”
“Yeah, you’re not kidding,” he said with feeling. “In the end, I could hardly even stand to be in the same room with her.”
“Exactly,” she said, “whereas they finally get a chance to heal whatever’s going on between them, and maybe your brother will have a decent life now.”
“Maybe,” he said grudgingly. “Don’t see how that’s possible with her.” He shook his head. “It still hurts.”
“Yes,” she said, “but not for the real reason. It’s not so much that your wife cheated on you but that your brother did.”
He winced at that. “No, you’re right there,” he said. “And yet, once I realized it wasn’t even my child, I wondered if it was his, but she would never tell me the truth about the father. When she got angry, then she happily told me that the baby wasn’t mine. By then, I figured it was a complete waste of time to work on the marriage because she was still seeing someone else.”
“And, as you know now, it was your brother, and she went back to him,” she said quietly. “And I’m not in any way condoning their behavior. I’m just saying you’re in a good position to stay a long way away from them.”
He looked at her, and he started to laugh. “Isn’t that the truth?” he said, shaking his head. “Damn. You know what? You just have to think about it that way, and it looks so much easier.”
“It’s not easy though,” she said. “But you know now and can move on …” And then she grinned up at him. “So why don’t you go make lemonade, while I get started on this other room.”
“Make lemonade? Pretty sure I saw a jug in the fridge.”
“Right. Well, I figured that was your kind of lemonade, premade.” She laughed at him. “Go and pour some.”
“Oh, you can’t be done that fast,” he said.
“Maybe not, but I’ll try. So get lost. Let me finish this second bedroom.” She walked into the remaining guest bedroom and immediately started painting on the finish.
“It looks phenomenal,” he said. “You’ve done so much great work here.”
“And it’s just a drop in the hat of my list of things to do here,” she said.
“Are you doing anything else for the next five years?”
She looked up at him in surprise. “No. Not really.”
“So then you’re spending it doing something that will create cherished memories and will renovate this huge beautiful heritage home,” he said. “So you can’t really argue with that.”
“I hear you.” And, with a smile on her face, she got to work. By the time he came back upstairs again, she was almost done. “I figured you had to make another batch from scratch because you took so long.”
“Ha,” he said, but he held a plate of sandwiches.
She looked at him with longing. “That’s not fair. I’m not quite done yet.”
“You got five minutes,” he said. He looked at the room she was finishing off and came closer to the doorway, and said, “It’s pretty good timing, huh?”
“Very good timing,” she said, as she sat back. “But I do want to do the hallway too.”
“That makes sense. It’s all ready to go, so you might as well,” he said. “But you can’t walk on it until the tackiness is gone.”
“Which I’m hoping will be enough to let me in tonight,” she said, “so I can get to my bedroom.”
“If not, you’ll have to climb the outer wall, using the trellises,” he teased.
“You know how that’ll end up,” she said with a laugh.
“Yep, in a bad way.” He headed back downstairs and said, “Hurry up.”
And, with a smile, she got to work. It didn’t take very long, as the hallway, although it was long, was a steady stroke back and forth, no turns, just those edges close to the wall. The rest went down very quickly. She got to the top of the stairs, cleaned up the edge, wishing she could do the stairs. Yet that would be that much more work, and they weren’t stripped properly yet. So she slowly backed down the stairs. There she quickly washed up, smiled at him, and said, “Done.”
“Okay, good. So tomorrow sand and then another coat?”
“Yep, something like that depending on the schedule.” She stood and gathered the animals into the guest bedroom downstairs. “I don’t want them bothering us while we eat. I’ll let them outside after we’re done.” Caleb nodded as they headed out to the veranda. As soon as she got out there and sat down, she remembered. “Shit, I forgot the lemonade.”
She got up, and a pop rang out. She gasped as something blasted across the side of her head, lifting her hair, and slammed into the doorframe right in front of her. She was immediately dropped to the floor, then the back door opened, and she was dragged inside. “What the hell?” she asked Caleb. “What was that?”
“Somebody just shot at us,” he snapped, looking out the window from the side.
“What are you talking about?” she asked. Then it hit her. “Oh, my God. Somebody actually shot at me.” Her hand went to her head. “Did they miss me?” she asked. “I don’t feel anything.”
“They missed,” he said. “Don’t worry. You’d notice if they hadn’t.”
“No,” she said, “not really. I could be dead.”
He looked at her, his face grim, and he nodded. “You could be right,” he said. “That was too damn close for comfort.”
Dale Mayer. Caleb (Kindle Locations 829-877). Valley Publishing Ltd..
So much going on and not a whole lot of leads but when a break is found the information pans out. The circumstances under which Beowulf was found had me crying. As did they way Caleb gets him out to safety.
Lots of twists and turns, suspense, family drama, romance, sizzle and lots of dogs to love!
I can’t wait for the next book in this series!
5 Contented Purrs for Dale!
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Dale Mayer is a USA Today bestselling author best known for her Psychic Visions and Family Blood Ties series. Her contemporary romances are raw and full of passion and emotion (Second Chances, SKIN), her thrillers will keep you guessing (By Death series), and her romantic comedies will keep you giggling (It’s a Dog’s Life and Charmin Marvin Romantic Comedy series).
She honors the stories that come to her – and some of them are crazy and break all the rules and cross multiple genres!
To go with her fiction, she also writes nonfiction in many different fields with books available on resume writing, companion gardening and the US mortgage system. She has recently published her Career Essentials Series. All her books are available in print and ebook format.