Friday, April 5, 2013

Early Review of Dangerous Refuge by Elizabeth Lowell

  • Title: Dangerous Refuge: A Novel
  • Classification: Adult Fiction
  • Genre: Contemporary Romance/Mystery
  • Format: Hardcover;  384 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow (April 9, 2013)
  • ISBN-10: 0062132717
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062132710

To the untrained eye, Lorne Davis' death would appear to have been caused by a heart attack. Not an uncommon occurrence for an eighty-six year old man, but if you looked at the little things surrounding his death, well, then you'd noticed some things didn't add up. To Tanner Davis, however, a hardened LA cop, little things could mean and add up to a lot. There was the matter of Lorne landing face up. Not the usual way for a man suffering pain to land. Then there was the missing hat and jacket, which Lorne should have been sporting one or the other. There was also the fact he was wearing his town clothes and as he wasn't one to go about admiring his ranch, that was rather odd too. But the biggest and most damning thing about Lorne's death was the missing gold coins that only the family would know about and they were gone. Had Lorne truly had a heart attack or had he met with foul play? 

Shaye Townsend was working for the Ranch Conservancy. She and Lorne had reached an agreement that he would let his land be held in trust by the Conservancy  until his death at which time the Conservancy would take it over. He did have certain stipulations, however, that had to be met before he'd sign on the dotted line--namely, that the Conservancy guarantee that the ranch be preserved the way it was and not be traded or sold under any circumstances. While Shaye was out of town, however, her boss took the final paperwork over to be signed, only the contract was the wrong one. She'd grabbed the a contract without the agreed upon amendments from their legal department. Upon returning to Refuge, Shaye headed over to Lorne's ranch to explain the error and smooth things over. He'd been refusing her calls so she'd hope she personally be able to explain the blunder and regain his trust. The only problem was that that would never happen. When Shaye reached Lorne's ranch he was dead. She'd been the one to find him and call the authorities. The two had become friends over their negotiations and she would truly miss him. Her only regret was that he'd died angry with her thinking she'd tried to trick him. 

What neither Tanner  nor Shaye could have guessed was that Shaye would be instrumental in unlocking what really happened to Lorne. 


This was a fun read. Shaye was a fun character caught in a bad situation. She loves her work and believes in what she is doing. Part of her job is to try to get ranchers to leave their land to the Ranch Conservancy, a group dedicating to preserving small ranches by snatching them up before commercial industry has a chance to grab them. Some of the land they've been entrusted with even has wild mustangs roaming around. When Shaye's boss, Kimberli, messed things up by giving Lorne the wrong contract, Lorne made a big stink about the mix up. Enough of a stink that other ranchers in the area were starting to rethink their plans about entrusting the Conservancy with their ranches. But trying to go on back to business as usual and acting as if nothing had happened wasn't easy for Shaye. She'd been deeply affected by his death. She'd like the old man and was sad she'd never see him again and her last images of him weren't pleasant ones as she'd found his body some time after the scavengers of the area had gotten to him. Not a pretty sight, and not one she'd soon forget. When she first meets Lorne's nephew, Tanner, he wasn't in the best of moods and they didn't immediately hit it off. The one word she'd use to describe him was rude.

Tanner Davis is an LA detective used to working the homicide beat. He's not happy about being pulled away from LA and back to Refuge. He never really wanted to come back. He'd hoped to quickly settle his uncle's estate and be on his way, but when he learns all the facts about his uncle's death he can't help but try to figure out what happened to the old man. While the two weren't close during his final years, they were family. Upon first meeting Shaye he wonders what she'd do to get a ranch, but quickly dismisses that thought as he gets to know her. He soon realizes she truly is saddened by his uncle's passing and the two start working together to put the pieces together of Lorne's final days. With Shaye's help doors that would normally not be opened to him are. While in the midst of their investigation, the two find themselves undeniably attracted to one another. 

Overall I gave this one 3 1/2 out 5 roses.There was plenty of drama, intrigue and romance. I liked the mystery of what exactly happened to Lorne and how the two worked together to figure it out. I also enjoyed that Shaye didn't have to give up what she loved to get a happy ending and that Tanner didn't ask her to.  

Some photos to put you in the mood for this one (Pictures found on Photobucket):
 photo OldRanch_zps00afcb59.jpg
Above: The way I imagine Lorne's ranch to look.
wild mustangs photo Wild-Mustangs-Gardner-Ranch-Califor_zps98f0406a.jpg
Above: Wild Mustangs.
 photo 0507081941_zpse76a24e8.jpg
Above: An example of what I imagine the abandoned mines in the book to be like

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