|Kat Martin has helped me start the year off right with Against the Wind. It comes close to being one of the best I have read in a long time. With it, she starts a new series about the Raines brothers and I can’t wait to read the other two stories.
Jackson Raines was one of the “bad boy” Raines brothers when growing up in Wind Canyon Wyoming. With a father who died and a mother who was always drunk, Jackson was left to set an example for his two younger brothers Gabe and Devlin. It wasn’t until he started boxing that he finally realized what being a man meant. He went on to college and ultimately to the Olympics, coming just short of that gold medal dream. But at thirty-seven he is learning that there is more to life and he has settled down on his own ranch. He isn’t sure a woman is in his future but he is happy.
Sarah Allen Hollister also grew up in Wind Canyon. She had a stable family life and yet her shyness kept her from being in the “in” crowd. She wanted that badly and tried to get it by humiliating Jackson in front of that group of “friends” by not only refusing his invitation to the prom but mocking him when she did it. She regrets it now, especially after her dream life has been less than that. Sarah is back in Wind Canyon with her six year old daughter Holly. Her husband, who was abusive and into some very unsavory business, is dead — murdered in their old home. Sarah is broke and desperate to start over and raise her daughter like she remembers being raised. She rented a cottage on the Raintree Ranch, not knowing that Jackson is the owner.
Needless to say, Jackson and Sarah have a rocky start, but Sarah’s innate goodness and apparent vulnerability get to Jackson, who has learned it is okay to help people without giving up one’s masculinity. He has always been the protector of the family and his instincts come out strong around Sarah and a delightful Holly.
But trouble follows Sarah and she is fortunate that Jackson does feel protective. From someone ransacking her cottage to threatening phone calls and ultimately visits from men with guns, things seem to be spiraling out of Sarah’s control. From all appearances, her husband was blackmailing some men who would rather their secrets died with Andrew Hollister. But his threats indicated that there were records of all this nasty business and several “someones” are determined to get those discs or records from Sarah. As with many battered women, Sarah is clueless as to her husband’s business, knowing only that he was away from home a lot, spent money like it was water and demanded that she kowtow to his every whim, despite the fact that he had mistresses he never failed to tell her about.
This tale has romance. Sarah and Jackson are good together and they allow their friendship to grow even as their lust intensifies. Jackson is warm hearted and enjoys being around Sarah and Holly. His ranch is filled with people who also care. There is a little side tale about his divorced ranch foreman who has two boys, and a local woman who has hopes of something lasting with him. Jackson also has a housekeeper who is always there to take care of Holly – convenient given she is needed a good amount of time.
Since Jackson is wealthy, there is also the convenience of flying in private jets and spending money without a worry. Despite some of those issues, the story moves well and at times, is very suspenseful. Jackson and Holly freelance a bit more than I liked, doing some investigations that get them into trouble rather than reporting things to the authorities, even after they know the FBI is involved in the case. The resolution is pretty easily figured out but it is still well written and engaging.
Devlin, a carefree yet very successful security business owner, and Gabe, a hot shot in the construction field, live in different states, but are close to their brother and play a role in resolving the issues. The two are macho yet have that brotherly affection that bodes well for their own romances.
Against the Wind is a tense yet surprisingly uplifting story of two people who deserve a second chance at happiness. If you are looking for romantic suspense and a good way to start off your year then pick up this gem by Kat Martin.