The Bodine ranch and resort in western Montana is a family business, an idyllic spot for vacationers. A little over thirty thousand acres and home to four generations, it’s kept running by Bodine Longbow with the help of a large staff, including new hire Callen Skinner. There was another member of the family once: Bodine’s aunt, Alice, who ran off before Bodine was born. She never returned, and the Longbows don’t talk about her much. The younger ones, who never met her, quietly presume she’s dead. But she isn’t. She is not far away, part of a new family, one she never chose—and her mind has been shattered…
When a bartender leaves the resort late one night, and Bo and Cal discover her battered body in the snow, it’s the first sign that danger lurks in the mountains that surround them. The police suspect Cal, but Bo finds herself trusting him—and turning to him as another woman is murdered and the Longbows are stunned by Alice’s sudden reappearance. The twisted story she has to tell about the past—and the threat that follows in her wake—will test the bonds of this strong family, and thrust Bodine into a darkness she could never have imagined. (Goodreads)
Truth be told, I am late to the Nora Roberts Romantic Suspense Party. However, having the privilege to be invited The Liar, The Obsession and now Come Sundown, I can see why Roberts has such a big fan base, which continues to grow.
Though Come Sundown is only my third Romantic Suspense, I have to say, it may be my favourite so far.
The plot of the story has that perfect balance between the mystery surrounding the disappearance of Alice Bodine and the murder of the two women, and the blossoming romance of Bodine and Callen. The normalcy of Bodines homelife just made Alice’s imprisonment all the more harrowing. Even when she manages to escape her captors, Alice’s ordeal is not over and you bear witness to a woman who has been broken both physically and mentally, trying to reclaim her life back. You also see how Alices reappearance affects her family and their readjustment, not only to Alice returning but the fact that she is not the same person who disappeared out of their life.
The family dynamics within the book is really strong and is the heartbeat of the book. The term family not only includes the immediate Bodine family, but also those who work for the Bodine’s. It has a real sense of community and when these terrible things happen, they all rally round.
As I said, this book is not all doom and gloom for there is the romance between Bodine and Callen. As a couple, I couldn’t help but root for them as couple but even as individuals they are so easy to like. Bodine is, for me, the eptimome of a woman baring the responsibility of running a family business. She is strong, spirited and has a heart of gold. As soon as Bodine and Callen met, I knew that they were meant to be together and watching their Courtship has a rather old fashioned feel to it. (In a sweet way).
Callen is what I imagine the stereotypical gentleman cowboy to be. He is the perfect balance between old-fashioned gentleman and the modern man who knows that women don’t need the man to be the provider, but he is still there to give her the support she needs.
Their romance is not the only one in the book and we also see Bodines two brothers, Chase and Rory start relationships. Seeing the dynamics of these other two couples also saves the book from becoming too stale. Though I know that Robert’s suspense books are stand alone, I would have happily read standalone books about Chase and Rory. It was one of the things that I really liked about this bok, the fact that the characters are all so individual.
The ending of the book resolves many of the plot lines and surprisingly there were a few bittersweet moments to the ending. I was torn between satisfaction that justice or even vengeance was served, but also the fact that there was still some unresolved issues. Never the less, this was a book that was difficult to put down and has more than cemented Roberts as a must read author for me.
With its mixture of sweet Western Romance and a dark and disturbing suspense plot line, Come Sundown has something for everyone. Reading this book, at times reminded me of the movie Room and was just as harrowing. Thankfully it never got that dark and this was thanks to the balance of Bodine’s family life.
The cast of characters quickly worm their way into your affections and you do become so invested in their lives. It has this Midwestern charm to that captures that picture perfect image of the American Mountains. Yes, there is darkness in this book, but it just means the light and good shines that bit more brightly.