Shannon's family fortune and legacy are in trouble, and if someone doesn't out the competition for cheating, they'll lose everything. Always under her cold father's thumb, Shannon is pushed into spying, snagging a job at Sean Muldoon's ranch to catch him in the act and redeem the Charlemagne name in the world of horse racing.
But the Sean she meets is nothing like the man her father purports him to be. He seems above board in everything, and even Shannon's occasional snooping turns up nothing suspicious. Of course, it would be a lot easier if the heat level didn't shoot through the roof each time he walks into a room. Shannon's ruse is supposed to be all business, but it's quickly turning into all heart.
But... Shannon's assumption when the horse was doped? Really? Let's see… She's seen no evidence that Sean is up to anything underhanded, despite her father's insistence. The missing bottle was sitting there so long that it left a ring on the shelf when taken, and the surrounding bottles are dusty as well. And then, of course, there's the bottle and syringe left not just in plain sight but actually right there at the scene of the crime, not hidden away or disposed of or even discreetly tucked into a corner. A five year old would know that shit was planted, so why is Shannon's immediate conclusion that Sean, a man who has supposedly been successful at surreptitiously doping his horses, is to blame? Did the scene where Shannon had a lobotomy get cut in editing?
The Verdict: Is “suspenseful fluff” a thing? ‘Cause that's how I'd categorize this book. While there's definitely some mystery and suspense going on, and Shannon's deception is cause for some angst, their love story is awesomely sweet. And Sean… never have work clothes been so hot!
Shannon's led a somewhat sheltered life. While her father can never be called overprotective, he's definitely controlling and practically incapable of feelings beyond selfishness. Shannon's naivete isn't the easiest thing to relate to, but it's still understandable, given the way her father treats her. It's clear from the get-go that while she's an intelligent and capable woman, fear and anxiety where her father's concerned have taken their toll. She's too busy trying to stay off Devil Dad's radar to really live for herself, and she knows better than to speak up or offer her opinion when her father demands something of her. In that way, she's bullied into ingratiating herself to Sean, her father's main competition on the track and in horse breeding, with the plan to out Sean for unethical ways of winning.
Sean is less than the person he could be as well. He's strong and independent, and fortune has certainly been in his favor. But his very existence is a lie, a necessary deception for survival, and his past comes back to haunt him in the worst way. He's spent the last several years reinventing himself and trying to make a new life in America, away from the criminals who nearly killed him and sent him running from Ireland.
The mystery aspect of the story is confusing in the best way. I was pretty sure about a certain someone's involvement, but just how it all came about as a nice surprise. Just as surprising was Sean's reaction when everything came to light. Where the story could have taken a quick drive through the not-so-magical land of cliches, Sean's curiosity and faith in Shannon came out strong, making for an incredibly happy ending.
The ending itself seemed to move very fast, but I think that's in part to the craziness that unraveled there near the end. High level drama and action almost always moves quickly, reading more like a real life bizarre twist than a rush to wrap up the book. All in all, it was pretty intriguing and entertaining throughout, and it certainly didn't hurt that Sean was about ten kinds of hotness wrapped up in Wranglers and an Irish cap. This is the first book I've ready by Jennifer Seasons, and I can't imagine it being the last.