In her first follow-up to the Best Selling Bluegrass Series, Kathleen Brooks brings Keeneston back to life through the Davies Brothers. Cade Davies had too much on his plate to pay attention to newest resident of Keeneston. He was too busy avoiding the Davies Brothers marriage trap set by half the town. But when a curvy redhead lands in Keeneston, the retired Army Ranger finds himself drawn to her. These feelings are only fueled by her apparent indifference and lack of faith in his ability to defend himself.
DEA Agent Annie Blake was undercover to bust a drug ring hiding in the adorable Southern town that preyed on high school athletes. She had thought to keep her head down and listen to the local gossip to find the maker of this deadly drug. What Annie didn’t count on was becoming the local gossip. With marriage bets being placed, and an entire town aiming to win the pot, Annie looks to Cade for help in bringing down the drug ring before another kid is killed. But can she deal with the feelings that follow?
Annie reminds me of Sandra Bullock’s character at the beginning of Miss Congeniality – rough, tough, no man wants to work with because she’s a woman – in combination with a plot line very similar to 21 Jump Street.
Annie Blake is a DEA agent who has been working on a drug ring that’s producing a new drug, S2, targeting high school athletes. The big problem? Lots of these high school football stars are dropping dead, having heart attacks and other heart issues, not to mention some crazy aggression and other unhealthy things.
Unlike the Kenney Chesney song, she did not find the tractor sexy.
After a quick clean-up in Miami, she’s sent off to Kentucky, where they believe the drug is originating. She infiltrates the school under the guise of the guidance counselor, and is easily getting inside intel on the football team by simply doing her counselor job…if curtailed specifically, just a bit.
But there’s a problem. Every time she runs into biology teacher/football coach Cade Davies, she’s breaking up a fight, and keeping a kid hyped up on S2 from beating his face in. After a while, Cade gets the distinct impression that Annie is not quite who she says she is, and thanks to some of his fed brothers, discovers her DEA identity.
It wasn’t very often she met someone she instantly liked, but Father James was one of them. He was kind of portly, balding on the top of his head and had a smile that made you want to sit down and tell him your whole life story. He could be trouble.
Keeneston is a small town – the kind of idealistic town where nothing of major consequence ever happens, where you can send your kid off down the street and know it’s safe, and where the whole town gathers at the local eatery. In Keeneston, the Rose sisters and John Wolfe run the town…and the gossip mill grapevine. After a few casual dinners together, Annie and Cade are at the center of attention throughout the town.
Within a minute, a picturesque town with its old buildings painted in whites, yellows and tans came into view. Barrels of pink, purple, yellow and white flowers lined Main Street. Some people stood talking on the corner and waved at Margaret as she drove by. There were little shops that sold antiques, a stately courthouse and more people waving at her.
What I loved was how no one in the town was immune. Each person was in on the gossip, filling in everyone else, and if anything, Keeneston residents have mastered the phone tree better than some schools. People were finding out things that were going down before even Cade knew, and were calling to tell him to get somewhere and do something. News in Keeneston travels at the speed of light.
And with that “news” also comes the bets for Cade and Annie. Everyone around town keeps asking, or letting on, about a particular month being the best month because they’ve placed their bets. It’s a little much, but it’s characteristic small town where everyone knows everyone…and their business.
“He brought your dog into it? Wow. That’s low.”
This book also had a personal backstory for Annie, who grew up in foster care. She has lived alone her entire life since entering foster care, and is dealing with coming to terms with staying alone or becoming part of a family, which after being in Keeneston it’s not hard for her to make up her mind. There’s just one problem…she does have a nearby relative, who wants to be a part of her life. Annie has to deal with a lot of past anger and pain from years of being unwanted.
Cade is also got a handful going on with his football team. Several of his players have become engrossed in the new S2 drug, a steroid on steroids that goes undetected in the normal drug testing. He ends up spending the majority of the season fighting one particular player using S2, who is throwing his talents and his team down the toilet.
Annie also thinks Cade has no clue…and is kind of, well, incapable. Just like Cade checks out Annie’s story, Annie checks out his.
Annie couldn’t believe it. Shock had her frozen as she stared at the computer monitor in front of her. “Son of a …,” shoe groaned. She buried her face in her hands and muttered, “I told him to learn self-defense, and he’s a freaking national hero with a higher clearance level than I could ever dream of…”
I love the way the novel ends and wraps up – in more ways than one, none of which I can share without spoiling anything. I’ll just say that one lucky football player ends up being able to go to his first choice college.
“That’s it, Miles Jackson Davies. No dessert!” Marcy reached over and grabbed the slice of pumpkin pie sitting in front of him. Annie watched in disbelief that this big, serious, tough guy hung his head and pouted when his mother took his desert away.
*****Atbout the Author*****
Kathleen Brooks is a New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author. Kathleen’s stories are romantic suspense featuring strong female heroines, humor, and happily-ever-afters. Her Bluegrass Series and follow-up Bluegrass Brothers Series feature small town charm with quirky characters that have captured the hearts of readers around the world.
Kathleen is an animal lover who supports rescue organizations and other non-profit organizations, such as Friends and Vets Helping Pets, whose goals are to protect and save our four-legged family members.
Kathleen will begin a new series in 2014 called Women of Power. This series will follow the lives of successful businesswomen as they fight off dangers to their lives and careers while searching for true love.