I needed a change, thought the blurb sounded entertaining and so went for it. It’s certainly a change of genre and pace from my normal speculative fiction fare…
Small-town lawyer Lilly Atkins has calmed down. She’s doing yoga, her hair is relatively tame, and she hasn’t shot anyone in a while. But with bad boy Cash Stetson out of rehab, former FBI agent-turned-attorney Spencer Locke dogging her steps, and a ghost from her past who just won’t go away, her trigger finger is starting to itch.
Chapman Lloyd’s snappy writing is engagingly readable and she pulled me effortlessly into Lilly’s mid-western world of cowboys, ranches where men are rough and tough, guns are an everyday accessory and women are judged as much by their baking and cooking skills as their appearance. And appearance matters a lot to Lilly. Unusually these days, we get a rundown of everyone’s clothing and footwear as Lilly meets up with them – every time… To be honest, this got a tad wearing throughout the book. Especially as Lilly’s crisis of confidence on being confronted with the two main failed relationships in her life manifests itself in her trying on a number of different clothing styles. While the clothing descriptions were slickly done, because I have little interest in the clothing industry and even less knowledge – the designer labels regularly tossed around meant nothing to me.
The main mystery – the loss of her grandfather’s cattle – became more or less incidental as Lilly ricocheted from one encounter with a concerned parent/disapproving friend/manipulative male to another confrontation. Think Kinsey Milhone without the gnarly murder and in airhead mode. I would have liked to see her working on a case as an attorney where something really mattered, because as far as I could see, she didn’t do very much except get under the feet of her family and annoy long-suffering Spencer.
It didn’t help that this copy was riddled with formatting and typographical errors – on accepting an arc one doesn’t expect a perfect copy, but there was hardly a page where words weren’t run together, lines broken in the wrong place or occasional punctuation errors. While Chapman Lloyd’s writing is mostly smooth and stylish, there were places where it plain graunched, giving me the impression this version had only been slightly edited.
So why didn’t this book go flying across the room and end up as a DNF? Because, despite all of that, Chapman Lloyd managed to make me care for exasperating Lilly and I found all the worldbuilding details enjoyably engrossing. There is a definite charm to this book and once I got to the end, I put it down with a grin.