BORN TO DIE
By Winter Austin
The first thing I realized I really liked about Born to Die, by Winter Austin, was what an awesome female lead the book had. Cassy Rivers is a tough-as-nails sheriff’s deputy who has been through the ringer, yet somehow she’s managed to maintain her femininity while continuing to protect and serve. It’s hard to balance that in a character and author Austin does it well. Cassy has been kidnapped, drugged, and left brokenhearted. When she and her partner discover one of their own dead in the same woods where she was held prisoner two years before, Cassy has to face her worst fears, especially when the investigation into the death brings with it the man who left her heart in pieces.
When Boyce Hunt returns to Eider, Iowa to investigate a string of robberies he finds himself face to face with the woman he walked out on two years before. Focused only on bringing down his mother, a career criminal not fit to be a parent, Boyce had one goal in mind and that wasn’t staying in Eider to play house with Cassy. When the two see each other for the first time in two years, Boyce realizes that he made a mistake and as their investigations begin to run together, he works at proving to Cassy that he’s not running away this time.
Austin weaves together an entertaining, if not gruesome at times, mystery balanced nicely with the romance between Cassy and Boyce. There’s enough edge-of-your-seat excitement to keep the reader turning the pages and Cassy finds herself in more than one harrowing set of circumstances. Yet, I struggled consistently with the book. Born to Die is book two in the McIntire County series and I’m not sure if I’d label it as a standalone. The main characters are different, with Atonement, book 1, being about Cassy’s older sister. But as I read further into Born to Die, I realized that I felt like I was an outsider looking in, as if I only had part of the story, and this affected the pace. I wanted to know why Cassy and Boyce fell in love, instead it seemed like they were an already established couple who had a spat. The main plot of Atonement played a major part in Cassy’s character development in this book, and while Austin gives some background, it’s not enough to make me feel like I had the whole story.
And, it’s a shame because Austin is a good writer and if I’d had the time I would have read Atonement before finishing up Born to Die. The secondary characters are great fun, especially the county sheriff. I enjoyed the setting and Austin describes it well enough that I felt the cold Iowa winter to my bones. If you like romantic suspense I’d consider giving this series a try, but you’ll definitely want to read the books in order.
3.5 stars for Born to Die. Heat level: 1.5
I received a copy of this book in exchange for honest feedback.
Born to Die was published in March 2016 by Crimson Romance.
Winter Austin perpetually answers the question: “were you born in the winter?” with a flat “nope.” Having recently changed her address back near her hometown, Winter has stepped into the chaotic world of a full-time wife, mom, author, coach, and employee. With her ability to verbally spin a vivid and detailed story, Winter has translated that into writing deadly romantic thrillers. Combining her love of all things rural, agricultural, and military, she’s turned her small town life upside down.