Cowboy Christmas Rescue: Rescuing the WitnessRescuing the Bride (Harlequin Romantic Suspense) - Beth Cornelison, Colleen Thompson

Gunfire disrupts a Christmas wedding in this 2-in-1 collection of original, connected novellas.

 

Rescuing the Witness by Beth Cornelison

 

Bullets are fired at a ranch wedding in Texas and the only witness to the unknown sniper's identity is wedding guest Kara Pearson. When the rifle turns to her, Kara runs for her life. Her only hope for survival? The man who broke her heart years ago. But Sheriff Brady McCall vows to protect Kara - and right old wrongs.

 

Exciting and emotional story. Kara is attending the wedding of her good friends, but at the same time her heart is breaking. One of the groomsmen is her ex-boyfriend, and all she can see is what could have been. She had broken things off when she couldn't get him to listen to her fears and concerns. She sneaks out of the ceremony to get her emotions under control, and witnesses a man shooting into the crowd. Terrified when he turns his gun on her, she hops on a horse and flees into an approaching storm.

 

Brady reaches the barn just in time to see her go. Afraid for her safety, he leaves his deputies in charge of the scene while he goes after her. Kara ends up trapped in rising flood waters, bringing back memories of her father's death, which only intensify when Brady is also trapped. Once they are out of that danger, they still have to face the reality of Kara being the only witness who can identify the gunman. 

 

Forced together to deal with the danger, both Kara and Brady have to face their past in order to move ahead. It's obvious that they both still care, but their communication skills didn't seem to be up to the challenge. I felt bad for Brady because he had no clue what it was that had driven Kara away. He knew that he loved her and was miserable without her. I could also feel Kara's frustration with him, as she constantly felt like he was ignoring her feelings. I loved seeing the way she was finally able to get him to sit down, shut up and actually listen to what she had to say. Of course, she also had to listen when he explained his side also. 

 

The final confrontation with the gunman was really intense. My heart was pounding at the danger Kara was in. I loved seeing how Kara and Brady's connection made it possible to survive the encounter. Even more satisfying was the way that Brady finally understood Kara's fears and they came out the other side even stronger.

 

I liked following along as Kara and Brady worked to discover who the gunman was and why he had been shooting at the wedding. It was exciting to see how Kara's powers of observation provided vital information and a possible link to the bride. While Kara is now safe, the mystery isn't over. The question is now about who is after April and why.

 

 

Rescuing the Bride by Colleen Thompson

 

After being jilted and having gunfire erupt at his wedding, bull rider turned rancher Nate Wheeler fears his pregnant bride is the intended target. But as he and April Redding try to track down the shooter, Nate uncovers the secret reason April refused to say "I do" at their ceremony.

 

Nate and April have bee friends since they were kids, but that friendship took a strange turn a few months earlier. Both had gotten drunk and ended up in bed together, then agreed the next morning that it had been a mistake. But when April ended up pregnant, Nate insisted on doing the right thing and proposed marriage. Unfortunately, the closer the wedding has gotten, the more convinced April is that she made a mistake. As she stands beside him at the altar, April realizes that she can't marry a man who looks at her as an obligation. Just as she starts to tell him so, shots are fired and the scene dissolves into chaos. Nate's dad is critically injured and flown to the hospital, with Nate and April following by car. Nate refuses to let her out of his sight until things are straightened out.

 

This story takes place at the same time as the previous one, so there is some intertwining of the details. It becomes clear that someone is out to get April, but the question is who and why. Is this linked to the work that April did as a paralegal and the threats that she and her coworkers received? Or is it related to something that April saw that she doesn't realize is important? I loved the increasing tension as April remembers more and more details and begins to connect the dots. I figured out the culprit only a little before it was revealed. The final confrontation was intense as I wondered how it was all going to turn out.

 

Throughout the story was also the worry about how Nate and April would be able to rescue their relationship. I completely understood April's fears, as Nate's attitude toward their marriage seemed to be one of forcing himself to do it rather than actually wanting to be with her. He may have been a champion bull rider, but emotionally he's more like a bull in a china shop. It seems like every time he opens his mouth he says something wrong. It doesn't help that he doesn't realize what his feelings really are until it is almost too late. Meanwhile, April is in love with him, but has never actually told him so. By the time the wedding comes, she has realized that she wants it all, but hasn't been able to find the courage to tell him so. Throughout the danger, their love grew stronger until they were finally able to admit it to each other.

 

*copy received in exchange for honest review