I truly enjoyed reading “Always Look Twice”, and can’t imagine how I didn’t discover this series when book 1 (“Never Let Go”) came out in February! First off, you absolutely CAN read this and follow everything without having read the first book in the series. I did, and didn’t feel like I was missing anything…the author did an AMAZING job of making sure I had all the information I needed in terms of background.
I connected with main character Harper immediately. She comes across as a real person, with unique talents and abilities, as well as unique challenges that stem from her past experiences. Harper is a woman who is aware of her issues, and is actively working to overcome them.
The book is set in Wyoming, an area that the author obviously knows well. Her descriptions of the wilderness made me want to visit and see the natural beauty for myself. Harper is a photographer, so we get to see a lot through her eyes and (and the eye of her camera). The author even includes (through the characters’ experiences) some helpful tips on staying safe in terms of terrain and wildlife.
The romance between Harper and part-time deputy (and full time tourist ranch manager) Heath McKade adds an integral level to the story. When Harper sees something she wasn’t intended to, she is in danger, and it’s up to Heath to protect her and help solve the mystery. What makes the romance unique is that the two were childhood friends, and very close ones. They helped each other through some difficult times when they were too young to be thinking about romance. They’ve been apart ever since, and now have the opportunity to reconnect as adults, with no “former enemy” or “failed relationship” dynamic between them to pull them down into trope territory.
The mystery itself is also very well written. What Harper initially witnesses provides very few clues. Regardless, she is determined to solve the case. As she and Heath keep pushing to figure out what actually happened, the danger to Harper escalates. What started out as a single, fairly straightforward crime quickly expands to include other acts of violence. Long-hidden secrets from the past are also linked to current events, providing a nice, unifying element to the story.
When all is revealed in the end, everything makes perfect sense. The reader was provided with enough clues along the way to feel a part of solving the mystery, but not enough to make the answer obvious. To avoid spoilers, I won’t say more, beyond the fact that the ending is satisfying in multiple ways.
Five of five slices of American cheese!