Title: Gambling on a Dream
Series: Colton Gamblers, Book 3
Author: Sara Walter Ellwood
Publisher: Kensington Lyrical
Release Date: June 9, 2015
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense, Romance
ARC Received From: NetGalley
Reviewed For: Tasty Book Tours
Follow the tour
With Everything At Stake…
It’s been years since Sheriff Dawn Madison said goodbye to Texas Ranger Wyatt McPherson. She’s closed the door on the heartache of her past. But when the sleepy town of Colton, Texas, is rocked by a series of shocking murders, Dawn has no choice but to trust the man who broke her heart if she wants to protect the ones she loves…
All Bets Are OffFour years have passed. But Wyatt hasn’t forgotten the bold, Native American beauty who stole his heart . . . and broke it. Losing her and the life they had hoped to share left him an empty shell of himself. But if he wants to stop the deranged killer terrorizing the innocent kids of Colton, he’ll have to let Dawn back into his life. It’s a risk he’s willing to take, even if heartache is all he takes home…
Other books in this series
(Please note: The following are addressed in this story: drugs [transportation, dealing, addiction], prejudices, PTSD, and attempted suicide by a former military personnel. Please take this into consideration before reading further or purchasing this book.)
Be forewarned: there is a lot going on in this story. Between the multiple characters and multiple story lines, it's easy to get lost and confused. But if you read carefully and pay attention to the details, all of it makes sense.
Wyatt and Dawn's relationship ended on a really bad note years ago when, after Dawn was shot while they were on a sting operation, Wyatt discovered she'd risked and lost their unborn baby boy. In his grief, he abandoned her. It felt like it was intentional, retaliation for her not telling him. But when they finally sat down and talked about that horrible night and the days that followed, I found out differently. The truth of it all was the aftermath was based on a misunderstanding that resulted with their relationship terminating. Oh, the hurt, loss, and sorrow are still there but they finally have the chance to deal with it together, like they should have years ago.
Their relationship is, to me, second fiddle to the other issues in this story. The first is the increase of kids dying on Dawn's watch. It was her duty to keep her town safe as its Sheriff but how could she when she didn't know who she was fighting?
The influx of drugs into Colton only added to the mystery and made me wonder, along with Dawn and Wyatt, who the kids were getting the drugs from and why the dealer was killing them off. The latter was easier to solve than the former. Money makes people do irrational things. Demanding a higher cut after agreeing to the dealer's rates isn't exactly smart, especially when the kids had no idea who the dealer really was. Figuring out who it was took time. I had my suspicions but it was difficult to confirm them when the dealer and his cohort weren't given their air time until late in the story. Was I surprised? Yes and no, but knowing that it was someone working closely with Dawn made me really appreciate Wyatt's presence in her life.
Coming home wasn't easy for Wyatt. Aside from seeing Dawn again, he also had his family, particularly his sister Rachel, to see to. Rachel's discharge from the Army came on the heels of suffering life-changing injuries and plunged her straight into the depths of PTSD. Not knowing how to deal with the loss of a limb, the inability to have children because of other injuries, the death of the man she loved, and not having anyone to talk to about any of those things were what made her recovery even harder. I think I lost a life or two when I read her attempted suicide, and my heart stopped beating when I read about her family finding her. Thankfully, she survived but the reality of how low she got was not an easy part of this story to read and I cried buckets over how I saw myself in her.
Rachel discovered she didn't have to ever get that low again, thanks to Dawn's half-brother Talon. His relationship with Rachel was a bit blurry but I understood that they were friends years before and that he wished to renew that friendship once again. Despite his stint in jail and the fact that one of Dawn's staff was intent on pinning the recent drug crisis on him, he turned out to be a stellar guy. He took on a daughter he didn't know he had and reached out to a woman he understood better than others. I hated that Talon was made to feel like the bad guy, that all people saw when they looked at him was his record. He was, like everyone else in this story, more than what you saw.
I know the multiple story lines and characters won't be for everyone who reads contemporary mystery/suspense romances, but I hope you take the chance and try this one out. You won't need a score card, I promise. Ms. Ellwood does an incredible job writing each story out without losing the reader. As for me, I really enjoyed reading this story and hope to read more by Ms. Ellwood in the future.
Reviewer's Note: If you know someone who is contemplating suicide, please reach out to them. The few minutes you spend with them could mean the difference between them continuing to live or taking their life. If you yourself are thinking suicide, please know that there are people who care about you and people who want to help you. If you need someone to talk to, even if it's a complete stranger, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
Although Sara Walter Ellwood has long ago left the farm for the glamour of the big town, she draws on her experiences growing up on a small hobby farm in West Central Pennsylvania to write her contemporary westerns. She’s been married to her college sweetheart for over 20 years, and they have two teenagers and one very spoiled rescue cat named Penny. She longs to visit the places she writes about and jokes she’s a cowgirl at heart stuck in Pennsylvania suburbia. Sara Walter Ellwood is a multi-published and international Amazon bestselling author of the anthology set Cowboy Up. She also publishes paranormal romantic suspense under the pen name Cera duBois.