"An explosive tale of love, trust and the twisted ties among an embattled family." -RT Book Reviews on Crime Scene at Cardwell Ranch
Forsakenby B. J. Daniels
Danger runs high and passions burn hot in Montana's wild country
Big-city detective Bentley Jamison is a long way from home in the Beartooth wilderness when one of local rancher Maddie Conner's ranch hands goes missing. Towering mountains and a small, tight community are as unfamiliar to Jamison as herding sheep, but he's never shied away from a/p>
Danger runs high and passions burn hot in Montana's wild country
Big-city detective Bentley Jamison is a long way from home in the Beartooth wilderness when one of local rancher Maddie Conner's ranch hands goes missing. Towering mountains and a small, tight community are as unfamiliar to Jamison as herding sheep, but he's never shied away from a challenge. As the new deputy sheriff, he's sworn to protect every inch of this rough terrainstarting with unraveling a mystery that has left Maddie a wide-open target.
Maddie's as beautifuland untamableas the land around them. Like Jamison, she won't back down from danger. But desire that flares hotter than their tempers only raises the stakes when a fierce storm traps them in the high mountains. Caught in a killer's sights, Jamison and Maddie must trust one another, because now survival and love are all that matter.
Read an Excerpt
The horse stumbled under him as he plunged down the steep mountainside, but he spurred on the mare. Around him, the dark pines swayed and sighed in the wind as he crashed down through them, his only thought to reach the ranch alive.
Terror quilled the hair on the back of his neck, but he didn't dare turn around. Fighting to stay in the saddle, he raced along the creek before charging into the fast-running stream. The clear water showered up in an icy wave that soaked him to the skin and stole his breath.
His horse bolted up the other side, forcing him to cling to the saddle horn to stay on his mount. A pine bough caught him in the face, a sharp twig scraping across his cheek and cutting into his flesh.
Behind him, he heard a familiar sound over the roar of his pulse and the howling wind and the thundering hooves of his horse echoing through the timber. Behind him was that unearthly silence that had chased him out of the Beartooth Mountains.
Even as he rode the horse harder, he knew he'd never be able to outrun itor the smell of death lingering on his skin.
Deputy Sheriff Bentley Jamison was the only one in the office when the call came in.
"That you, Frank?" a grating elderly male voice asked when the dispatcher put the call through.
"Sheriff Frank Curry is out of the office. This is Deputy Sheriff Bentley Jamison. What can I do for you?"
"Bentley Jamison? Never heard of you."
Jamison must have said the next words a dozen times a day since he'd recently joined the force. "I'm new."
"Huh," the man said with a chuckle. "Bet you ain't from around here, either."
That was a bet the man would win. At least he hadn't asked what most people did on meeting the new deputy. "What the devil are you doing way out here?"
"What can I do for you?" Jamison asked.
"Well, this is Fuzz Carpenter. You don't know me, but I just run across a kid comin' out of the Beartooths. He was a-ridin' hell-bent for leather like the devil was chasin' him. Had blood all over him. I flagged him down to try to find out what was wrong, but he wasn't makin' an ounce of sense. All I could get out of him was that he worked for the Diamond C sheep ranch. That's 'bout all I can tell ya, exceptin' I didn't like the look in his eyes. Somethin' bad happened back up in those mountains, sure as hell."
Jamison wrote the words Diamond C Ranch on the pad next to his phone. "How long ago was this and where exactly?"
"Not ten minutes ago up the Boulder Road. He was a-headin' back to the ranch, I'm supposing, since he was ridin' in that direction last I saw of him."
"Thanks for letting me know. I'll check it out."
The man grunted in response and hung up.
Jamison asked directions to the Diamond C from the dispatcher then climbed into his patrol SUV and headed toward what the locals called the Boulder. It was actually the Boulder River valley. As he left Big Timber, Montana, he followed the river, the tall thick cottonwoods only giving him glimpses of the clear, green water.
The valley was wide, broken up by plowed fields and creeks that ran down to the river in a winding trail of pines and cottonwoods. With breathtaking beauty, mountains soared up around him, snowcapped and covered in dark pines.
The nearer he got to the Diamond C, the more the valley narrowed. Sheer rock cliffs towered a thousand feet over the two-lane paved road, and ranches became fewer and farther between.
He passed the Natural Bridge and waterfalls up into the Absaroka mountain range, or the Beartooths as locals called them because of one jagged crag that looked like a bear's tooth.
Not far after that, the pavement ran out and he found himself in a tight canyon with nothing but the roaring river still full from spring runoff and high mountains hemming him in.
The Diamond C was snuggled in a coulee back off an even narrower dirt road and across a private rickety bridge spanning the river. It was early June in Montana and the snow-fed creeks were all running high.
As he came over a small rise, he saw the house and low sheep barns. Wind buffeted his patrol SUV, letting out a low howl. Nearer to the house, he saw a lone wooden weather-grayed rocker teetering back and forth in the blustery wind at the edge of a wide porch. Freshly hung sheets billowed and snapped on the clothesline nearby.
He'd had his share of premonitions before. Several of them had saved his life. But none had ever been as strong as the feeling of dread that washed over him as he drove toward the white clapboard two-story farmhouse.
Madison "Maddie" Conner felt the change in the air just a moment before she heard the vehicle approaching. The wind had been blowing all night and morning, screaming down out of the mountains, sending anything not nailed down cartwheeling across the yard.
She'd awakened in the middle of the night when one of the big metal garbage cans had taken off, banging across the wide expanse between house and barn before crashing into the side of the shed. It had been difficult getting back to sleep. Everything was always darkest at that hourespecially her worrying thoughts.
Since rising, she'd kept busy. But a feeling of unease had burrowed under her skin like a splinter, festering as the day progressed. Finally at midmorning and unable to shake off her dismal mood, she'd tried to reach her sheepherder by radio. So far she hadn't been able to raise him or his tender, who were both back in the mountains.
Branch Murdock often purposely forgot to take his radio with him when he was out checking the sheep. He refused to carry a cell phone, not that she blamed him. There was little coverage back in the mountains anyway. She'd told herself she'd try him later.
Stepping out on the porch now, she leaned against the railing and watched the patrol SUV pull to a stop in front of the house. She'd expected to see Sheriff Frank Curry, a handsome fiftysomething big man with a drooping handlebar mustache, climb out.
The man who emerged after the dust settled wasn't Frankbut he was as large and broad-shouldered.
Maddie squinted with both curiosity and an inkling of concern as a man in what she estimated as his thirties tilted back his Stetson on his thick head of brown hair to look in her direction. His eyes were pale and hooded. She could make out enough of his features under the shaded brim of his cowboy hat to realize she'd never seen him before.
He wore the entire sheriff's deputy uniform from the tan shirt to the creased-front slacks and dress boots. She'd never seen any of the local law enforcement in anything but the tan shirt, jeans and well-worn cowboy boots.
Even before he opened his mouth, she knew he wasn't from anywhere around here.
"Good morning, ma'am," he said in a voice that was surprisingly low and soft. The accent, though, was all
"back East." He removed his hat and turned the brim in his fingers, and she got her first good look at him. His face was more lined than she'd originally thought, and his hair was graying at his temples. She realized he was closer to her own age, mid-forties.
His eyes were a haunting pale gray. It reminded her of the wolves that had been reintroduced just over the mountains in Yellowstone Park. The wolves that often killed her sheep.
"I'm Deputy Sheriff Bentley Jamison and I'm looking for Madison Conner," he said, squinting up at her.
"Well, you found her." She saw his surprise and couldn't help smiling to herself. He wasn't the first man who had just assumed the ranch owner was male.
"I'm here about one of your employees," he said. "A neighbor of yours saw a young man come out of the mountains a little while ago . The man who called thought your employee might have been in trouble."
His words brought back the full force of the unease she'd awakened with last night. "What kind of trouble? I don't know anything about" She took a step to the edge of the porch stairs then stopped as her gaze slid past him to the faded red barn in need of fresh paint.
Her breath caught as she recognized the lathered-up horse standing next to it. The horse was still saddled, but there was no sign of its rider. Even from the distance she could see that the mare needed tending to at once.
She shoved off the porch steps and sprinted toward the barn. When she got hold of Dewey Putman she'd tan his hide for treating a horse like that. Even as she thought it, though, she felt that sliver of worry dig in deeper.
What was her tender doing back at the ranch? And what had a neighbor seen that would make him call a deputy instead of her?
Maddie reached the horse, her heart breaking at the shape it was in. The mare had been ridden hard. Her fingers brushed over a four-inch cut along one flank, and she saw that the mare was favoring one leg.
She dug her cell phone from her jeans pocket and tapped in the veterinarian's number, then shoved open the barn door and called Dewey's name.
Behind her, she was only vaguely aware that the sheriff's deputy had followed her. In the dim light of the barn, dust motes twirled in the early-morning light as she called Dewey's name again before the vet came on the line.
"I've got a horse that needs attention right away," she said into the phone. "If you can't come out.." She let out a relieved sigh. "Thanks, Doc. I appreciate it."
As she disconnected, she heard a rustling sound deeper in the barn, then a whimper and what sounded like sobbing. She felt her chest tighten. Stuffing her cell phone back into her jeans pocket, she grabbed up a pitchfork as she followed the sound to a back stall.
A few feet from the muffled noise she felt the deputy's large hand drop to her shoulder. He'd unsnapped his weapon and now motioned for her to stand back and let him handle it.
As a groan came from inside the stall, Maddie gave a shake of her head and banged the stall door open with the pitchfork.
"What the hell is wrong with you, Dewey Putman?" she demanded then froze as she saw her sheep tender cowering in the corner. Her gaze took in his bloodstained clothing, the scratches on his face and the terror in his eyes before he dropped his head into his folded arms again and wept.
"Come out of there, son," the deputy said as he pushed past her.
She let out the breath that had caught in her throat at the sight of Dewey like this and slowly lowered the pitchfork. "You heard him. Come out."
Dewey looked up. A lock of his dark hair had fallen over one bloodshot brown eye. She felt her stomach roil.
"Come on," she said, gentling her voice the way she would have for a spooked horse. She dropped the pitchfork over the partial wall into the next stall and held out her hand.
But before Dewey could take it, the deputy stepped between them.
"I'm going to have to handle this," he said to her then turned to Dewey. "What's your name?"
"His name is Dewey Putman. He's my sheep tender." Then turning to Dewey, she said, "What I need to know is what you're doing here, and where are Branch and my sheep?"
The deputy shot her a look that said he'd prefer to do this his way.
Before she could remind him that he was on her ranch or that she had two thousand sheep and possibly no herder, he said, "Could you please make some tea?"
Bristling, Maddie raised a brow. "Tea? "
"Or coffee if you prefer. Something to warm him up. Also, he'll need a change of clothing. His clothes are soaked. If he isn't suffering from hypothermia, he will be."
Ready to do what came naturally and take care of things herself, she had to bite her tongue as she shot another look at Dewey. He was trembling like a dog cornered by a grizzly and in as bad shape or worse than his horse.
Something had happened in the sheep camp back in the Beartooth Mountains. Even before she'd seen the blood on his clothing, she'd known by the look in the young man's eyes that he was in trouble. The deputy knew it, too.
Dewey was her employee, her responsibility. While her first instinct was to help him, she knew from the warning look the deputy had given her that Dewey's welfare was now out of her hands.
"I'll see to his horse," she said. "There's a pot of coffee on the stove. Help yourself."
Meet the Author
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author B.J. Daniels lives in Montana with her husband, Parker, and three springer spaniels. When not writing, she quilts, boats and plays tennis. Contact her at www.bjdaniels.com or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/BJ-Daniels/127936587217837 or on twitter at bjdanielsauthor.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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If you love cowboys you will love this one. A romantic suspense that is packed with twist and turns on every page. First off thank you to B. J. Daniels for letting me be a part of the review team with an advanced copy of Forsaken. It never fails to amaze me how much she can pack into one book and Forsaken did not disappoint, I started this book just two days ago and hated to put it down. Beartooth Montana is by far my favorite place to visit and on this first chilly day of fall I guarantee it will warm you up too. Romance, twist, turns and suspense at ever corner. Especially loved the interaction between Detective Jamison and Maddie. On a side note I love the character named Maddie as that is my daughters name. If you are not familiar with B. J. Daniels other works I suggest you go grab the other two Beartooth Montana books, Unforgiven and Redemption and hold on. Grab your copy on bookshelves September 24th, you won't be disappointed.
I. LOVE. THIS. BOOK!!! I've read the other books in the series and really enjoyed them but this one, hands down, is my favorite! I couldn't put it down! I read it in 24 hours. The characters are fantastic and the storyline keeps you on your toes all the time. I like how B.J. doesn't just have one story going all the time but a couple. She has one main story but a couple other characters have stories too so you get this multi-layered book full of adventures and keeps you on the edge of your seat! Sometimes, the stories intersect and that makes things even more interesting! B.J. Daniels is one of the best authors in her genre, hands down, and I love her characters. This book went even above my expectations - it blew them out of the water! Can't wait to read the next installment but I have no idea how she can possibly outdo herself...but knowing her, she probably will.
One great read....d
Just finished Forsaken. Could not put it down. It was sooo good. Was will written.
After the first few pages, all I could think, with an excited feeling, was 'holy cow, this is awesome!' And from that point forward, I could not put the book down! I enjoy the complexity of the characters; I have gotten to know them all and look forward to reading about them throughout not only the book, but the Beartooth series as well. But, you definitely don't need to read the whole series to love the characters; BJ Daniels introduces new Beartooth locals in each book. The storyline and plot are not unrealistic either. I can picture the events in the book actually happening. And I was unable to 'redict' the plot...it was unexpected and as an avid reader, that makes me very happy! The only thing that was somewhat predictable was the relationship between the Deputy and Maddie - but the book should not have been written any other way - their relationship and how it started and ended was perfect. It made me yearn for more! When I finished the book, I had that little ache in my chest...which usually indicates that I did not get enough of the characters or the story. I simply loved it!
B. J. Daniels’ Forsaken, the third book in a series about Beartooth Mountains in Southern Montana, is a great mix of suspense and romance. The way Ms. Daniels weaves her stories between two different areas, the mountain and the town, keeps the reader in suspense throughout the novel. She describes the Montana scenery so the reader can practically smell the way the pine trees smell, hear the baaaing of the sheep, and see the beauty of the area along with the characters in the story. The romance is “just right” to be believable along with the action…it could happen! Can’t wait until the next one!
As a native Montanan I love reading novels set in my beautiful home state that capture both the independent spirit of the inhabitants and the rugged setting. B.J. Daniels is one of my favorite authors because her books do both beautifully! Forsaken is the third in her Beartooth series. If you haven't already read the two previous books in the series, "Unforgiven" and "Redemption", don't feel as though you absolutely have to read them before picking up "Forsaken." Daniels does an excellent job of creating series books that can be read alone (although I guarantee that once you read "Forsaken", you'll be rushing to the bookstore to pick up the other two in the series.) "Forsaken" tells two parallel, but intertwined stories of intrigue. The characters are so beautifully drawn that you'll have a hard time putting the book down because it feels as though you've made new friends and it is unbearable waiting to find out what happens to them. The setting is rough and rugged, just like the two male protagonists, and even if you've never visited Montana, you'll be able to picture it because Daniels describes the landscape so well. I love that this particular novel features a love story between two 40 somethings. Don't get me wrong, it's fun to read series like Twilight and 50 Shades of Grey, but quite frankly I don't identify with the characters in those series. I'm not in my teens or 20's anymore, and I loved seeing the romance unfold between people I do identify with. The only thing that I wished could have been hinted at earlier in the book was motive behind the antagonists' actions. I love playing the guessing game of "who-dunnit" and it was difficult in this book because the plot lines didn't tie together until the very end. That is a small complaint though, given how much I loved this book!
4 STARS Forsaken basically has three different plot lines going. The main one is good. That has the new Deputy Bentley Jamison from New York answers a call about something is wrong at Maddie Conner's Sheep camp up in the high County. Maddie's tender a young man has come down from the sheep camp in terror. He is covered with blood, in shock saying that her Long time Shepard is missing. No one is watching her sheep. So Bentley and Maddie head up the mountain on horseback to find what is going on. Bentley is going up as a cop. The theme that runs through Beartooth, Montana series is the Sheriff ex-wife Pam has decided that she is going make life terrible for him. She has not seen him in decades. She has hidden the knowledge that he has a daughter and raised her to hate him and the women he loved as a teenager. The daughter has been arrested for trying to kill him is in a mental hospital. Now he finds her at his house with a baseball bat smashing his belongings and some attacks him from behind and beats him up. Pam has a Judge that is a witness that she never left his ranch and has got a restraining order against the Sheriff. The third plot line runs into the first and could ruin story if I say anything about it. Most of the story takes place high in the Montana mountains not to far from Yellowstone. It is a beautiful setting for the story. The characters are likeable and you find yourself rooting for the good characters and the bad guys to be caught. Some of the characters you are not sure if they are good or bad guys till the story unfolds. Good suspense in the story kept me from guessing a lot of the mystery in the story. I was able to guess a little bit of what has happened. The story kept moving at a good pace. I stayed up late to finish the book. Did not want to put it down. There were a couple of love scenes that I skipped over. lots of action, drama, romance and some violence in the book. I was given this ebook to read and asked to give honest review of the book from NetGalley and Harlequin. Publisher: Harlequin HQN (September 24, 2013) 384 pages ISBN-10: 0373777809
More Thrills From Beartooth MT Courtesy of BJ Daniels I was on the edge of my seat from page one. The first chapter gets your attention and you won’t be able to put the book down. Bentley Jamison is a delightful surprise, city boy humbled by the Beartooth Mountains, also by the strength found in Maddie Conner, hardy down home ranch woman, let the mayhem ensue. Will they solve a mystery and get out of the Montana wilderness alive? I’m not telling. “Forsaken” has three of my favorite things suspense, romance and snow.
AN AWESOME ROLLICKING WESTERN ROMANTIC MYSTERY!!!!!! FORSAKEN is the third book in B.J. Daniels’ Beartooth Mountain series. The fact that I’d not read the previous two books did not affect my enjoyment of this book. This book was actually a departure from my normal genres though I have read a few western romances in the past. However, this was so much more than a western romance. It is a combination of a romantic mystery with such gripping intrigue that I couldn’t sleep until I finished it. It grabbed me from the 1st few paragraphs and never let go. It is set in the raw Montana wilderness and the author’s descriptions of the setting will have you THERE. Her writing actually brought back very fond memories of a wonderful vacation in Yellowstone that we’d had many years ago when we had visited Gardiner, Montana as Gardiner figures prominently in the setting of this book. The story centers around two characters: Maddie, a strong independent woman who is running a sheep-herding farm and Bentley, a greenhorn deputy sheriff and former city slicker detective. There are other characters… but not too many as to confuse the reader. I got quite involved with each of the characters and their stories. I also loved the way the author interwove lore from the region and fascinating tidbits about sheep into the book. As soon as I finished it, I ordered the 1st two books in this series, UNFORGIVEN and REDEMPTION. I can hardly wait to read both. I'm looking forward to future installments. There are some characters who I hope we get to learn their stories' resolutions. I highly recommend this book to ANYONE who loves a good story, a mystery, a rollicking western romance... I bet you’ll fall in love with the region too while you read it… even if you haven’t been there. 5 STARS!
Wow I must say as I was reading this book it is just what the doctor ordered as the saying goes because this one is filled with much more to continues with this series with the ones you know and ones you will know better. Being a reader of her books and others like this genre I started it with anticipation because of enjoyment of suspense mixed with romance in a storyline. Having read previous books in this series it can also be read by itself. Several roads are traveled on being filled in with the characters and the setting with each sharing their journey you encounter suspense-hidden dangers with clues that any good mystery gives. Danger-holding your breath when faced with it right along with them hoping for the best and will they defeat it in time. And of course age old romance intertwined throughout and do they grab hold of it and not let go. I greatly enjoyed the realism that this read brings to it and brings forth the enjoyment you receive when reading a well written novel and the afterglow it can leave you with and just a little sad when you reach the end and say I would like to read more.
This is the third book in BJ's Beartooth Mountain series but it is also a stand alone book. It is set in Montana. There are a lot of twists and turns and you are never sure where the story will take you but you can be sure that it will be exciting and keep you reading until you get to the end. And it will be hard for you to predict what will happen next and who is mixed up in what. There are several surprises which will keep you reading until the end. Although I received the book from the author with a promise to write a review I would have bought the book and reviewed it anyway.
Let's start this out with stating that I know nothing about sheep herding - nothing other than it involves dogs, shepherds, sheep. After reading Forsaken, I feel like I have a much better understanding of what the old tradition was all about. Maddie Conner is the last of the breed that sends their sheep high in the mountains with a shepherd, a dog and a tender. From the opening scene with the young tender risking life and limb to escape what has happened in the mountains, I was hooked. Enter Bentley Jamison, the tenderfoot lawman from 'back east'. He and Maddie set off to uncover whatever happened in the mountains that scared young Dewey Putnam so badly that he couldn't even tell them about it. Maddie has ranch worries and everything is riding on this crop of sheep. She is the sole owner of the ranch since her husband and son died several years before. The old family friend, Branch Murdock, is the shepherd - she is worried about him as well since Dewey returned. She's saddled with Jamison, who knows nothing about sheep, but more about 'roughing it' than she thought. And, of course, there is the growing attraction between Jamison and Maddie. There are two other stories going on at the same time, bringing back a couple of my favorite characters from the first two books of the Beartooth series. The action switches from story line to story line until all three are interwoven. Whenever I read one of BJ Daniels' books, I'm transported to Montana. Her descriptions are rich with details that take you right along with the characters. You can nearly smell the pine, the frost on the air, the smell of the horses and the smokes from the campfires. You can almost see the craggy mountain tops. I get immersed into her worlds and find myself wanting to pick up stakes and move to Montana. She keeps the action believable and moving. Every book of hers is a page turner and Forsaken is no exception. The only issue I had with this book is that I thought Maddie was a bit flat. I wanted to like her more than I did. The fact that she went up into the mountains after her sheep and Branch were admirable, but with her entire future riding on the flock of sheep, she didn't seem to worry enough about them. As I stated - I know nothing about the sheep industry, so maybe losing lambs to grizzly bears and weather isn't a huge concern when there are thousands of sheep, but she just never seemed too concerned about them. It was that lack of emotion that kept me from really liking her more. All in all, I would heartily recommend Forsaken to anyone looking for a good page-turning read that you won't want to put down until you put all the pieces together. And then, you will be like me - waiting for the next installment of the Beartooth series.
Beginning with the opening paragraph describing the escape of the young sheep tender, Dewey Putman, from and unknown terror at a sheep camp deep in the Beartooth Mountains, down through trying to solve the mysterious disappearance of the sheepherder, Branch Murdock, BJ Daniels brings us a story of mystery and intrigue. Forsaken is one of those “ just gotta read one more chapter” kind of books. BJ combines the characters from the first two books in this series, Unforgiven and Redemption, along with the stars of this third book, Forsaken, to form a continuing drama filled saga of the attraction between Maddy Connor and Bently Jamison and the mayhem created by the villains of the story. She paints beautiful word pictures of the grandeur of the Beartooth Mountain range that almost make you feel as though you are seeing it with your own eyes. I find her books to be an entertaining balance of intrigue and that bit of “Spice” that make all love stories worth reading
You'll love this book its filled with adventure and so many things are happening that you can't help yourself but keep turning the pages. I've read every book in this series and each book gets better and better but then B.J. never disappoints her readers. I loved the way B.J. gets her characters connect with one another, Maddie is this strong willed sheep herder and dectective Jamisom is a city boy and doesn't know the terrain but he holds his own, and they start their adventure. I've read all her books that have taken place in this small town called Beartooth Montana, would really love to visit the town if their is one, B.j. makes you feel like your in the book and living within her characters. Her books have multi-layered stories and characters in her books and you fall in love with all of them. I'm so glad that I'm on B.J.'s street and I can't wait to read the next book!.