DANGEROUS REFUGE - Elizabeth Lowell
A Perfect 10
William Morrow (Hardcover)
Refuge, Nevada - Present Day
Shaye Townsend works for the National Ranch Conservancy as a liaison between the NRC and the ranchers who have settled below the eastern slopes of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The purpose of the conservancy is to preserve both the natural environment and the old way of life. Shaye has been dealing with old time rancher Lorne Davis who has agreed to donate his ranch with the understanding that it will transfer to the NRC at the time of his death. The deal has almost been finalized when trouble arises. While Shaye was away from Refuge, her boss angered Davis by bringing him the wrong contract. It's up to Shaye to explain and smooth things over with Lorne. But when she gets to the ranch, she finds his dead body out in the open, prey to scavengers.
When Los Angelus police homicide detective Tanner Davis, Lorne's only living relative, is notified of his uncle's death, he takes leave and hurries to Refuge. With his policeman's eye, he notices some oddities at the ranch and suspects his uncle's death was not as natural as stated.
The meeting between Shaye and Tanner doesn't go well. Shaye is still upset; she liked and admired the old man. Tanner's manner is rude and abrupt. Yet something connects the two, and before long, they work together to ferret out the truth in the face of difficulties with both the conservancy higher-ups and the local sheriff, who is more politician than lawman.
DANGEROUS REFUGE is perfectly written with lots of dialogue, much of it lively and revealing banter between Shaye and Tanner, with only the necessary amount of exposition. There is the perfect balance of interesting and likable protagonists, tension and excitement, real emotion, and humor. The early scenes with the growing relationship between Shaye and Tanner are both highly entertaining and informative. Later, as the mystery deepens and danger increases, taking an occasional deep, calming breath was a big help.
DANGEROUS REFUGE is a prime example of a great romantic suspense and one I have no reservation in recommending to everyone. It's also available in large print paperback and electronic form. In any format it's a Perfect 10 of a keeper!