Title: Dark Horse
Author: B.J. Daniels
Publisher: Harlequin Intrigue, Harlequin
Date of publication: July 18th, 2017
Genre: Romance, Suspense, Mystery
Number of pages: 256
POV: 3rd person
Series: Whitehorse, Montana: The McGraw Kidnapping
Dark Horse – Book 1
Dead Ringer – Book 2 (expected publication date: September 1st, 2017)
Book synopsis (from Goodreads):
Burdened by family secrets, this cowboy rides alone
For twenty-five years, the case of the McGraw twins kidnapping has remained unsolved. As the eldest son, Cull oversees the McGraw horse ranch, wary of prying eyes. So when true-crime writer Nikki St. James comes forward with new information, Cull can’t believe his father invites her onto the compound. His family has suffered enough—he’s not about to let St. James snoop and ruin them completely. But Nikki finds the eldest McGraw’s protectiveness as endearing as it is aggravating. After all, this case is personal to her, too… And her secrets can set the truth free—if they don’t destroy the McGraws first.
Trigger Warning: Kidnapping
When I was in my teens, I was a huge fan of any Harlequin novel and I actually had them delivered to the house. I didn’t start reading Harlequin Intrigue until 1993 or 1994. They became some of my favorite Harlequin books. Unfortunately, I stopped receiving the novels and moved onto other publishers. When I got an email from NetGalley that had Dark Horse as available, I jumped on it.
I couldn’t get into this story after the first couple of chapters. There was so much going on in the book that I couldn’t keep things straight in my head. There were too many storylines and I felt that there were plot holes that did not get discussed in the book. Like who Kitten’s father was. It was stressed over and over that Travers wasn’t her father. I would have thought that the father would have been revealed at some point in the book. Or the relationship that Patricia had with the lawyer and/or the ranch foreman. What also bugged me was that Frieda knew who was shooting at her and Nikki and she didn’t tell anyone. Other than Cull seeing a man with a rifle driving away…..nothing was mentioned about it again. Talk about wanting to rip your hair out.
Seeing that this is a series, I am sure that my concerns will be answered but it is still frustrating. As a reader, I want answers to questions that I have in the book. If there are one or two things left unanswered but you know that they will be in the next book, great. But when many plotlines are left unanswered, it frustrates me to no end.
I thought the romance between Cull and Nikki was nonexistent. They didn’t spend any time alone together and he was very resentful of her dredging up old memories. Then bam, he kisses her and bam, they’re in love. Instalove is great in certain situations but in this one…no. What I did like is that there was no sex. Besides one bone-tingling kiss, nothing sexual. It was a refreshing change of pace for me.
I did like Nikki but I do feel that she should have been more upfront with Cull and Travers about certain things. If you want to know what, you need to read the book. She was very spunky and she was a go getter. She also set in motion another set of events that was separate from the twins kidnapping. Events that made me cheer when certain characters got what they deserved.
Cull had been through a lot with his siblings’ kidnapping. He also had to deal with his mother’s eventual descent into madness. So, I wasn’t surprised when he was very against Nikki staying at the house and doing the book. Like I said above, the romance between him and Nikki was a surprise. It shouldn’t have been because, hello, this is a Harlequin Intrigue novel.
The end of the book was interesting. Cull and Nikki’s plotline was wrapped up in a satisfactory way. The kidnapping storyline was kind of wrapped up. I can’t go anymore into that other than to say I was pretty surprised at who the kidnapper turned out to be. It was not who I thought it was. All other plotlines were left as is and I do hope that they are addressed in book 2. Speaking of book 2, I want to read it. I want to find out what happened to the twins and because it is Ledger’s story.
My Summary of Dark Horse: 3 stars
Dark Horse had the potential to be a gripping romance/mystery/suspense novel. Instead, it has holes in the plot, a nonexistent romance, and underdeveloped characters. I am giving Dark Horse a 3-star rating though because I can see the potential in it. I am looking forward to reading book 2 to see if anything has been resolved from book 1.
Will I reread: Maybe
Will I recommend to family and friends: Maybe
Age range: Older Teen
Why: Violence, mild language. No sexual situations other than a kiss
**I chose to leave this review after reading an advance reader copy**