Terrific, fast-paced story that hooked me from the first page and kept me intrigued to the end. The book opens with Tiernan walking his dog Loki (perfect name for the pup!) on his ranch and Loki finding a dead body. A paper with a woman's name and address is found in the victim's pocket. Tiernan rides along with the sheriff to see her.
Melody has just finished a job interview when she finds a mysterious note on her windshield. She's unsure if it is meant for her, or a mistake, or somehow related to her father's crimes. When she stops at home, she's met by a sheriff's deputy and Tiernan and told that she's wanted for questioning by the sheriff. She's confused and concerned but goes along with them.
I already liked Tiernan at this point. His instincts tell him that there is no way Melody could be the murderer. I also appreciated his immediate protectiveness as he watched the sheriff do everything he could to pin the murder on Melody. I loved how he told her to stop answering questions while he made a phone call and got her a top-notch lawyer. He takes her back to his house, where she meets Loki. Tiernan's sensitivity to her fear of dogs and explanation of Loki's history were a good look at the kind and compassionate man he is.
I ached for Melody as the truth of her trouble hit hard. The meeting with the lawyer helps some, but hearing the sheriff is searching her house adds to that feeling. Then, the twist of the victim's identity adds to the situation's complexity. I liked how Tiernan offered to let Melody stay with him when she didn't want to be alone.
Though the lawyer and the sheriff have people investigating, Tiernan and Melody decide to do a little sleuthing themselves. I loved Melody's determination to be fully involved and Tiernan's desire to help and keep her safe. The twists and turns of their searches, combined with the sheriff's determination to pin the murder on Melody, kept me as deeply invested as they were. Even as the clues piled up, I was kept guessing about who was behind the attempt to frame Melody. The final confrontation surprised me and had me on the edge of my seat until it was over.
I enjoyed watching the relationship develop between Tiernan and Melody. They were attracted to each other from the moment they met but tried to resist because of their situation. Both also have trust issues from previous relationships, which take a little while to overcome. I especially liked Tiernan's protectiveness and the sweet way he cared for Melody. At the same time, she felt protective of him and tried to keep from being too disruptive to his life. I liked seeing the similarities in their attitudes towards wealth and privilege. I loved the ending and seeing them admit their feelings for each other. I wish there had been an epilogue because I would have liked more about Tiernan and his family.
Loki was my favorite secondary character. I loved how Tiernan told Melody Loki's story and its effect on her. Tiernan's love for the dog was undeniable, and I loved seeing them together. I also liked Loki's protectiveness toward Tiernan and Melody. I've had two labs, and the author nailed the breed's personality.