Wednesday, May 22, 2019

#GIVEAWAY Showcase Luck of the Draw by B.J. Daniels

Today I'm showcasing B.J. Daniels' latest in her Sterling's Montana series, Luck of the Draw, a second chance romance full of suspense and secrets. Sound good because B.J.'s publisher, Harlequin is sponsoring a giveaway. Details below.
Enjoy and good luck!


ISBN-13:
 9781335041036
Publisher: Harlequin

Release Date: 5-21-2019

Length:
 384 pp
Sterling's Montana #2

ADD TO: GOODREADS

Overview:
He may get a second chance at his one true love—if someone doesn’t kill her first

When Garrett Sterling leaves for a horseback ride through his family’s sprawling Montana property, he’s expecting a relaxing break from the construction at the Sterling guest ranch. What he gets is something far more sinister. It all happens so fast that it’s hard for Garrett—and the authorities—to sort out the facts. Two things are certain, though: someone is dead and the killer knows there was a witness.

But when the one woman he could never forget emerges as a key suspect in the investigation, Garrett will do anything he can to help clear her name. She’s still keeping secrets from him—that much is clear. But Garrett won’t rest until he uncovers what really happened that day, how she’s involved—and why everything she’s ever told him is a lie.

Giveaway is for one print copy of
Luck of the Draw US & Canada Only
Please use rafflcopter form below to enter
Good Luck!


Read an excerpt:

CHAPTER ONE
GARRETT STERLING BROUGHT his horse up short as something across the deep ravine caught his eye. A fierce wind swayed the towering pines against the mountainside as he dug out his binoculars. He could smell the rain in the air. Dark clouds had gathered over the top of Whitefish Mountain. If he didn’t turn back soon, he would get caught in the summer thunderstorm. Not that he minded it all that much, except the construction crew working at the guest ranch would be anxious for the weekend and their paychecks. Most in these parts didn’t buy into auto deposit.
Even as the wind threatened to send his Stetson flying and he felt the first few drops of rain dampen his long-sleeved Western shirt, he couldn’t help being curious about what he’d glimpsed. He’d seen something moving through the trees on the other side of the ravine.
He raised the binoculars to his eyes, waiting for them to focus. “What the hell?” When he’d caught movement, he’d been expecting elk or maybe a deer. If he was lucky, a bear. He hadn’t seen a grizzly in this area in a long time, but it was always a good idea to know if one was around.
But what had caught his eye was human. He was too startled to breathe for a moment. A large man moved through the pines. He wasn’t alone. He had hold of a woman’s wrist in what appeared to be a death grip and was dragging her behind him. She seemed to be struggling to stay on her feet. It was what he saw in the man’s other hand that had stolen his breath. A gun.
Garrett couldn’t believe what he was seeing. Surely, he was wrong. Through the binoculars, he tried to keep track of the two. But he kept losing them as they moved through the thick pines. His pulse pounded as he considered what to do.
His options were limited. He was too far away to intervene and he had a steep ravine between him and the man with the gun. Nor could he call for help—as if help could arrive in time. There was no cell phone coverage this far back in the mountains outside of Whitefish, Montana.
Through the binoculars, he saw the woman burst out of the trees and realized that she’d managed to break away from the man. For a moment, Garrett thought she was going to get away. But the man was larger and faster and was on her quickly, catching her and jerking her around to face him. He hit her with the gun, then put the barrel to her head as he jerked her to him.
“No!” Garrett cried, the sound lost in the wind and crackle of thunder in the distance. Dropping the binoculars onto his saddle, he 
drew his sidearm from the holster at his hip and fired a shot into the air. It echoed across the wide ravine, startling his horse.
As he struggled to holster the pistol again and grab the binoculars, a shot from across the ravine filled the air, echoing back at him. And then another and another and another. Four shots, all in quick succession. He winced at each one as he hurriedly grabbed up the binoculars again and lifted them to his eyes. His hands shook as he tried to locate the spot on the mountainside across the ravine where he’d last seen the two people.
With dread, he saw what appeared to be a leg on the ground, sticking out of the tall grass, where the two had been only moments ago. He quickly looked around for the man. In the dense trees, he caught the blur of someone running back in the direction where he’d originally spotted the two.
He focused again on what he could see of the body on the ground. The leg hadn’t moved.
In the distance, he heard the faint sound of a car engine roaring to life. He swung the binoculars to the end of the ridgeline and saw a dark blue SUV speeding away. It was too far away to get more than that. It quickly disappeared in the trees.
Garrett swore. At moments like this, he wished he had cell phone coverage on the mountain. But his father had always argued that being off the grid was the appeal of Sterling’s Montana Guest Ranch. 
No cell phones, no TV, no internet. Nothing but remote, wild country.
Reining his horse around, he took off down the trail back to the guest ranch lodge. It had begun to rain by the time he leaped off his horse and hurried inside.
He used the landline to call Sheriff Sid Anderson.
“I just witnessed a murder,” he said when the sheriff came on the line. He quickly told him what he’d witnessed, including giving him what information he could about the SUV that he’d seen roaring away.
“You fired a shot into the air?” the sheriff asked. “So the killer saw you?”
He hadn’t thought of that. “From across the ravine. I don’t think the killer is concerned about me.”
“Let’s hope not,” Sid said. “You think you can take me to the body?”
“Meet me where Red Meadow Road connects with the forest service property and I’ll take you to the spot.”
“Twenty minutes. I’ll be there. But be careful,” the sheriff warned. “The killer might not have gone far. Or he might be on the way to your guest ranch.”

CHAPTER TWO

ALL THE WAY from Whitefish, Montana, up into the mountains, Sheriff Sid Anderson was mentally kicking himself. If he had retired last summer, it would be someone else driving up here now to investigate an alleged murder.
His days on the job were numbered. He had hoped to get through them without something like this. It was his own fault, he told himself as he drove. He’d been worried about who would become sheriff when he was gone. Several of the deputies were champing at the bit to take his place. But it was the undersheriff that he’d been worried about most.
Undersheriff Ward Farnsworth had run against Sid in the last election and lost. He was the wrong man for the job and the voting public knew it. But if Sid had retired, Farnsworth would have been acting sheriff until the election. Sid couldn’t turn the county over to a man who liked to throw his weight around and hide behind his badge. Worse, since Ward was running for the election again this fall, he spent most of his time campaigning rather than doing his job. But soon, the undersheriff wouldn’t be his problem. Let the voters decide, he thought.
As he neared the mountains, large drops of rain began to smack the windshield, sounding like distant gunfire. Sid turned on his wipers. He was rolling with lights and siren even though there wasn’t any traffic on this road because of the thunderstorm. The rain would keep the tourists down in the valley today.
He hoped the rancher was mistaken about what he’d seen—and not just for selfish reasons. He didn’t need a murder—not when he was so close to retiring and putting his lawman years behind him. Had it been anyone but Garrett Sterling, he would have been more skeptical. He’d known the Sterling family all his life, but over his many years in law enforcement, he’d found even the best of people often weren’t sure what they’d actually seen when thrown into a stressful situation.
One of the reasons Sid was skeptical at all was that he knew the spot where the rancher had been when he’d seen what he thought was a murder. The ravine between him and where he’d seen the couple was deep and wide. Also Garrett hadn’t seen the actual shooting—he’d only heard the shots and seen what he thought could be a body lying in the tall grass—and someone fleeing.
Not that Sid couldn’t envision someone driving up to the end of the road to commit a murder. But there were better places to kill a person with so much wild country around the area. Why pick one so close to Sterling’s Montana Guest Ranch?
As he turned onto Red Meadow Road, he swore at the thought of the position the rancher might have put himself in. It wouldn’t be the first time Garrett had intervened in an attempt to save a life. He was that kind of man. But the killer now knew that he’d been seen. It wouldn’t take much for him to find the guest ranch—and the rancher.
As Sid drove, he kept an eye out for the dark blue SUV that Garrett had seen racing away, even though he had little hope of seeing it. Enough time had passed for the alleged killer to make a clean getaway. Not to mention that this area was a honeycomb of mountain roads. If the person driving the SUV knew the area, they could disappear down any one of them and be long gone by now.
He’d hesitated to call an ambulance or get the coroner involved at this point. First he wanted to make sure there had been a murder. Once he could verify that there was a woman’s body on the ridge, he’d call in the troops. As short-staffed as they always were, he didn’t want to waste resources.
Ahead, the road dead-ended at a wide spot. There was just enough room to turn around. Garrett’s pickup was parked off to one side of the road. The rancher was smart enough not to disturb any fresh tracks where the alleged killer must have turned around before making his escape.

He could see deep grooves in the dirt—now turning to mud—where someone had left in a hurry. The blue SUV? The ruts were now quickly filling with rainwater.
As he pulled up, Garrett hopped out of his truck and rushed through the driving rain to the patrol SUV. He opened the passenger side on a gust of wind and rain.
“Nice day for a murder,” Sid said.
Garrett shook rain from his Stetson and slipped out of his coat to shake it before climbing in. “I’m sure you’ve seen worse.”
True enough, he thought. “One of the reasons I’m hanging up my gun and badge soon. I’m looking forward to doing some woodworking in my garage. Might pick up a part-time job if I get too hungry.” He grinned over at Garrett. “If you’re right, this will hopefully be my last murder case before the election when someone else takes the job. I’m hoping you’re wrong and that all of that is behind me.”
He could see that Garrett was keyed up and tense. Sid asked for more details as to where it had happened as rain pounded the top of the SUV and ran down the windshield like a river. The last thing Sid wanted to do was go out in this thunderstorm let alone find a woman’s body lying in the grass and have a killer on the loose.
But as long as he was wearing this star... “Let’s do it,” he said to the rancher. Cutting the engine, he pulled on his rain gear and 
climbed out. Garrett joined him, the rain a steady drumming on their Stetsons and coats.
As they began to work their way up the muddy path next to the road, Sid was reminded of another reason it was time to quit being a lawman. He was getting too old for this. He wanted to spend his time enjoying himself. He thought of Dorothea Brand and smiled. He had his retirement all planned out and if he was lucky, she was going to be a part of it.
Dorothea had worked for the Sterlings for the past thirty years and had been like a mother to Garrett and his two brothers after their mother died.
The wind howled through the pines, branches rocking as the rain fell horizontally, pelting him like hurled pebbles. He felt the icy-cold liquid soak his jeans and run down into his boots. He thought about his warm workshop where he did his woodworking. A bolt of lightning splintered the bruise-colored sky over the mountain peaks. In answer the deep, chest-vibrating sound of thunder followed behind it.
Stopping to catch his breath, he looked through the rain into the dark of the forest and felt a chill. You just have to live long enough to enjoy retirement. Where had that thought come from? He shook it off and, ducking his head to the rain, started walking again.

Garrett, he noticed, had a grim look on his face. It wouldn’t be the first murder the rancher had witnessed. But it wasn’t like anything a man got used to, Sid reminded himself, thinking of his first murder scene.
Of course Garrett was shaken. It was a lot to handle for a man who wasn’t used to violence. He was no doubt wondering, the same as Sid was, why here? Why on this particular mountain ridgeline? And why had he been there to witness it? Coincidence?
When something like this happened, you realized that if you had taken just a little longer over breakfast, you wouldn’t have seen a thing. You might have heard distant shots, but you wouldn’t have thought much about it. With the thunder and lightning, you might not even have heard someone being murdered.
Ahead of him, Garrett stopped under the bough of a huge pine. Sid followed his gaze across the ravine, now shrouded in fog and rain, in the direction of the guest ranch.
“It’s right up here,” the rancher said pointing to an open area ahead, the lush grass tall and green. So deep that it would be hard to find a body.

“DONT TELL ME that you aren’t aware that the sheriff has a crush on you,” the elderly Eleanor Franklin said without looking up from her knitting. “The way Sid acts when he’s around you? You’ve got yourself an admirer, Dorothea Brand. Mark my words.”
Dorothea scoffed, but only for Eleanor’s benefit. She prided herself on her second sight. Not that she was clairvoyant exactly. It was just that she sensed things and had for most of her more than fifty years. Her mother had been a witch, well, at least according to her. She’d taught Dorothea to cast spells.
Admittedly the spells mother cast had never exactly worked, at least not in the way she’d hoped. Henrietta Brand was often stirring up a love potion or two on the postman, the butcher at the grocery store, the mechanic at the shop down the street.
Dorothea had struggled with her own spell casting. But that didn’t mean that she didn’t have a sixth sense—keen intuition anyway. She’d certainly been right about what she’d felt coming more often than not. Not that she’d been able to change events with her spells or her sage or her candles.
Her mother always told her that sometimes other forces were stronger than any potion or spell. That’s how her mother explained why the love spells she put on the postman, butcher or mechanic hadn’t made them succumb to her.
“If Sheriff Sid Anderson had a crush on me, I’d know it,” she told the other woman and kept her eyes on her knitting. Of course she knew it. It didn’t take second sight to see how tongue-tied the sheriff got around her. Or how he nervously worked the brim of his Stetson in his fingers and looked at his boots when he talked to her.
“He tries to flirt with you every time he sees you,” Eleanor was saying. “Surely you’ve noticed.” The small, gray-haired woman kept knitting but looked up suddenly. “I actually thought that was why you joined our knitting group. You really didn’t know he was a member?”
She wasn’t about to admit anything as she labored over each stitch, repeating in her head “knit one, purl one, knit one, purl one.” For almost half her life, she’d spent her spring, summer and fall up at Sterling’s Montana Guest Ranch where she supervised pretty much everything to make sure the staff did their job. Or at least stuck her nose into everything. She couldn’t imagine doing anything else—no matter what the sheriff might have in mind. She’d heard he was retiring soon.
“Crush or not, I doubt he’ll get up the courage to ask you to marry him,” Eleanor said. “His wife Adeline’s been dead for years. Bless her soul. Sid’s managed bachelorhood this long...”
“I could never leave the boys anyway,” Dorothea said. The Sterling brothers, Will, Garrett and Shade, had pretty much adopted her 
after their mother died. She told herself that they wouldn’t know what to do without her—and hoped it was true.
“Even if Sid got down on one knee and proposed?” Eleanor said, stopping knitting to narrow her eyes in disbelief.
“At our age, he’d be a fool to get down on one knee,” Dorothea said. “He might not be able to get back up.” She laughed and Eleanor joined in. “What would the sheriff see in me, anyway?” she asked, happy to set her knitting aside for a moment. It was true. She owned a mirror. She was a short, squat woman with a helmet of dark hair and piercing dark eyes that came across as a disconcerting glare. “I’m bossy, set in my ways and a butt-in-ski. At least that’s what I’ve been told.”
Eleanor chuckled in obvious agreement. Her needles began to clack away again as yarn magically turned into a sweater on her lap. “You can’t kid me, Dorothea Brand. I’ve seen you giving the sheriff an assessing eye right back. Anyway, the boys, as you call them, are grown. Will’s married now. Won’t be long before the other two head to the post, I’d wager.”
She realized the woman was right. The time was coming when they wouldn’t need her anymore. On top of that, her heart always beat a little faster around the sheriff, making her feel like a girl again.
“Sid’s not a bad-looking man for his age,” Eleanor said. “The silver hair suits him. You could do worse.”
She wasn’t sure how to take that. She wanted to defend Sid, but she wasn’t sure if the “you could do worse” was more about her rather than the sheriff, so she kept her mouth shut.
“He’s a straight arrow though. He’s the kind of man who’d want to get married if he does come a courtin’,” Eleanor said, glancing over her dime-store glasses and pursing her lips. “You might be too much of a Bohemian for that.”
Dorothea snorted. It wasn’t as if she hadn’t been asked before. That was back in her late teens before she’d taken the job at the guest ranch. She’d always told herself that the timing had been wrong, but she knew it was more than that. She hadn’t wanted to be tied down at that age and wasn’t sure she did at this age, either.
“Well, when he asks, I say go for it,” the elderly Eleanor said. “It’s not the worst thing, being married.” She looked up. “Sid might put a smile on your face.” The woman cackled, not missing a stitch.


COLDWET AND CHILLED, Garrett stood under a large pine to wait out of the driving rain. He had no doubt what the sheriff would find. But he knew Sid was still hoping that this was a wild-goose chase. Anything but murder.
The scene kept playing over like a video in his head. He saw the two people, the man forcing the woman deeper into the woods, the man holding the gun to the woman’s head. Even in his memory, he couldn’t see their faces. He’d been focused on the gun in the man’s hand, more than their faces.
But when he thought about it now, he recalled the wind whipping the woman’s long dark hair around her face. He frowned and tried to see the man, but the killer had been wearing a hoodie, his face in shadow.
Shaking his head, he attempted to put the disturbing images out of his head as he watched Sid move carefully along the ridgeline through the rain toward the spot where the woman’s body should be. Water poured off the brim of his Stetson, making it even harder to see ahead of him.
He shuddered against the cold, the rain, the shock, wishing he had been mistaken but knowing he wasn’t.


AS THE STORM howled around him, Sid stared into the swaying tall grass, looking for a body, but hoping not to see one.
“You should be getting close,” Garrett called from where he’d left him.

Wind lay over the tall grass, making it look like waves moving across the side of the mountain. He squinted down over the ridge into the ravine. This time of year the wild grasses were tall and lush and could easily hide a body. If there was a body here. He still wasn’t convinced he would find one.
He moved farther down the ridgeline. A gust of wind moved through the grass, keeling it over, as it rushed toward him. He was thinking of dry clothes and a hot cup of coffee when all his hopes of this being a mistake blew away in the cold icy gust. As the grass lay over, he saw what appeared to be part of a jeans-clad leg.
Sid motioned for Garrett to stay where he was before he began to slide in the mud and slick grass toward the body.
He caught a glimpse of a sneaker sole as he slid down to the spot, stopping just feet from the figure. He could see that the leg was twisted awkwardly under the body. Stepping closer, he saw more of the torso and thought again of what Garrett had said he’d seen. A man and a woman. The man dragging the woman by the arm into the woods. The man putting the gun to the woman’s head.
Sid stepped closer until he could see the victim’s jacket soaked in rain and blood. It appeared that all four shots had gone directly to the chest. Kneeling, he parted the tall grass to get a look at the face, no longer shocked by what he was seeing—but definitely surprised. 
He checked for a pulse, even though he knew he wouldn’t find one. Four bullets to the chest would do that.
Rising, he glanced back up the mountain to where Garrett stood in the rain. The rancher hadn’t moved, his expression even grimmer now that the body had been found.
The sheriff looked again at the deceased lying in the grass. Garrett Sterling had witnessed a murder all right. Except it hadn’t been the woman who’d taken the four bullets.
Dead on the side of the mountain was a man, no doubt the man the rancher had seen. Lying in the grass beside the body was a pistol.
And the woman? Somewhere in a dark blue SUV probably trying to put as many miles behind her as she could.


Book one in the series available now

About the author:
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author B.J. Daniels lives in Montana with her husband, Parker, and three springer spaniels. When not writing, she quilts, boats and plays tennis. Contact her at www.bjdaniels.com or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/BJ-Daniels/127936587217837 or on twitter at bjdanielsauthor.


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18 comments:

  1. I've never read this author but the reviews always sound great. Thanks for the chance to win the book.

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  2. Love the blurb and cover that is one sexy hero

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  3. Captivating story and a cowboy to boot. Perfect.

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  4. It has been awhile since I read her books. This one sounds good.

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  5. This sounds like a page-turning romantic suspense. I like that the protector is a steamy good-looking cowboy! Thanks for sharing Debbie!

    Lindy@ A Bookish Escape

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    1. Oh I always share steamy good looking cowboys LIndy, that is unless they're real LOL ;-)

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  6. Second chance and full of secrets, what's not to be intrigued by.

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  7. Ranch country and a murder mystery, score!

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