Harlequin MIRA, Oct 28 2014, $7.99
Despite their harrowing childhood memories of their sibling’s abduction and father’s desertion (see Shattered Secrets), anthropologist Kathryn and social worker Charlene Lockwood returns to Cold Creek, Ohio to attend their youngest sister Tess’ wedding to Sheriff Gabe McCord. Tess stuns an upset Kate with news she invited their father who abandoned them during the crisis and his second family to the ceremony with her dad giving her away.
While in town, Kate hopes to study the nearby Adena burial sites; but Gabe’s best man Grant Mason says no to her request to conduct a dig at the Mason Mound on his family property. However, Grant takes Kate to see his friend Paul Kettering to help with her project. When they arrive at Paul’s studio, they find him dead; his skull smashed in by a tree trunk carving. With McCord on his honeymoon, Deputy Sheriff Jace Miller leads the investigation, but feels over his head; so Grant and Kate assist him. Though she feels he conceals something from her, Grant and Kate fall in love, but he fears his secret will destroy their relationship.
The second Cold Creek Lockwood romantic suspense is an interesting whodunit enhanced by a tremendous glimpse into the prehistoric Adena people whose mounds are all over the Ohio Valley. The cast is solid especially when the focus is on either the homicide or the Adena, while the well-written polite family estrangement slows down the plot. Readers will look forward to Char’s tale wondering whether it will occur in the Buckeye State or the Land of Enchantment where she works.