Series: West Texas Watchmen (Book 1)
Sheriff Pete Morrison knew the the secret in his past could destroy his father. Yet instead of resigning his job and exposing the lie, he found himself protecting Andrea Allen -- a beautiful astronomer who witnessed a gun-smuggling operation and a college student's abduction. Determined to be independent, a relationship with her conflicted protector isn't in the cards. No matter how safe she feels in Pete's strong arms. But when things take a turn for the worse and Andrea exchanges herself for the abducted student, only Pete can save her from the horrible fate that awaits her.
Good book. Andrea is trying to finish the work on her PhD, which means all night at the observatory telescope, watching for the appearance of a new star. Then she'll have the credentials she needs for an overseas job, away from the influences of her prominent parents, neither of whom are happy with her presence in Texas. One night she witnesses some strange lights that may be smugglers, finds a badly beaten man and is run off the road and almost killed as she tries to get him to a hospital. She's rescued by Sheriff Pete Morrison, but nearly kidnapped by a fake Homeland Security agent. Andrea is in danger and Pete is the one assigned to keep her safe while they try to find out who wants her and why.
I liked both Andrea and Pete. Andrea is smart, funny and determined. She knows what she wants, but she suffers from somewhat overprotective parents, especially her father. As he is somewhat high up in his current profession, his interference is particularly frustrating for her. When she sees the lights that night, her first thought is to get pictures so she can find out what it is. When she finds the injured man by her car, she knows she needs to help. She keeps her head pretty well during the attack that follows, and again at the hospital. Pete's insistence on protecting her makes her feel safe, but she also wants to protect her independence. Her attraction to him isn't helping her keep her distance. As they work together, the attraction keeps getting stronger, but both of them have reasons they shouldn't get involved. Attraction overcomes reason and things between them get pretty intense, but their obstacles are still there. I liked the way that she resisted getting sent away for safety and insisted on being involved in a way that could help. I especially liked the way she was shown having some doubts about whether she was doing the right thing, and that she had fears about what could happen. It made her more realistic as a character. I also liked her relationship with her father, who at times seemed overbearing and others he was just a worried dad. At the end, I loved how it was the combination of dad and commander who was able to make her happy ending possible.
Pete has become the acting sheriff as the current sheriff, who is also his adoptive father, is preparing to retire. He has some decisions to make about his future because running for election as sheriff would reveal a secret about his past that could be trouble for his dad. He likes what he does, but causing trouble for his father is not an option. The trouble that comes his way via Andrea isn't making things any easier. It becomes obvious that there's more going on than a simple car accident when he rescues her from an attempted kidnapping. Having Homeland Security involved and his forced participation in the task force makes it more likely that his secret won't stay one for long. Added to all of that is his attraction to Andrea. Besides the chemistry between them, he just plain likes her. She's smart and funny, even if he doesn't always understand what she's talking about. He'd like to pursue a relationship with her, but with his past it isn't possible. In the meantime he's determined to keep her safe, and her insistence on being in the middle of what's going on is making him crazy. When the unthinkable happens and she is taken, it's Pete that has the ability to save her, and he knows that she's counting on him to do just that. And when it's all over he has to have the willpower to let her go.
The suspense of the story was good. It is a continuation of the theme of drug and weapons smuggling that has been in previous books by the author. There were some very intense moments, especially at the end, as Andrea's safety was at risk. There were many possibilities they had to consider about what was happening and why, and the steps they had to take to cover each one. I really enjoyed seeing the various personalities on the task force and how they worked together. It will be interesting to see which ones appear in future books.