Each stand-alone book in this multi-author crime novel series is set in the fictitious, beautiful little Texas Hill Country town of Magnolia Bluff. Each author writes in their preferred sub-genre to allow readers to experience humor, dark dilemmas, suspense, romance, thrills, and spills — told through good storytelling that will keep readers awake past their bedtime, trying to find out whodunit.
Texas law enforcement officer Madison Jackson awakes to discover her infant kidnapped from her crib. Was it revenge for someone Madison had arrested or something far more sinister? Madison’s estranged husband is incarcerated in Supermax. As the second in command of a deadly Mexican cartel, did he issue the order to abduct their daughter? Madison escaped the clutches of the treacherous crime organization once before. Will she now have to travel back to perilous cartel country to save her daughter’s life?
Madison Jackson was kidnapped by a Mexican drug cartel, forced to marry one of the higher-ranking cartel members. She was rescued from her captivity and is now back home in Magnolia Bluff, along with the only good thing to come from her horrific experience: her young daughter, Anna. When Madison wakes one night and finds Anna gone from her crib, she knows her estranged husband is behind it. Never mind that he’s currently in the Supermax prison in Colorado, thanks in no small part to Madison’s testimony. He is the only one who could be responsible for Anna’s disappearance, and Madison will stop at nothing to find Anna and bring her home.
This is a nail-biter of a story! The book opens with Anna’s disappearance, and it is off and running. Federal law enforcement is less than enthusiastic about taking up the cause, which makes a lot more sense when it’s revealed that the feds have brokered a deal to send Madison’s husband back to Mexico in a prisoner exchange. But Madison is not without help. Her father is a former Texas Ranger, so the Rangers are in, and Texas governor Dixon Tucker brings the considerable resources of the state into the rescue effort as well.
I don’t know what kind of research Marshall did on cartels and all the law enforcement pieces of the picture at play, but she writes a damn fine story! Madison is a strong woman, but my heart just ached for her. As a mother, I can imagine the sickening feeling of realizing someone has been in your house and taken your precious child. I wanted to cry along with Madison when she allowed herself the luxury of tears.
I was fascinated by how the local priest in Magnolia Bluff was able to serve as a connection point with a priest deep in cartel territory in Mexico in their efforts to get information on Anna’s whereabouts. Madison was very concerned about taking this route, not wanting the Mexican priest to be in harm’s way. I’d never thought of it before, but I would imagine priests serving in high crime areas are indeed at great risk, whether they’re part of an undercover international rescue mission or not.
Marshall works in just a bit of romance with the attraction between Madison and Dixon. Understandably, Madison isn’t making that attraction her focus while her child is absent, but it’s fun to watch the sparks fly between the two of them. Their budding relationship makes the Texas governor less of a political figure and more of a real person, too.
And once again, Magnolia Bluff rallies around its own. Whether it’s praying at a vigil for Anna or making sure Madison takes care of herself, family and friends support her. That’s the kind of town I’d like to be a part of, and to me, that’s one of the best parts of the series. We hear about so much bad in the world today, it’s good to read about circumstances where people pull together and look out for each other.
I don’t normally lower my rating for typos. I work with words. I know there are mistakes that escape even the keenest editorial eyes, and I expect them in advance copies. This was not an advance copy, yet I found enough errors in punctuation, spelling, and syntax that it threw me out of the flow of the story more than once. It was sufficiently distracting that I felt it necessary to drop my rating to four stars. With another good round of editing and/or proofreading, this would be a five-star read without question.
Action, suspense, strong emotion, all combined to keep me turning pages well past my bedtime. My visits to Magnolia Bluff so far have me hankering to read all the books currently out in the series, and all the ones yet to come!
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I always wanted to write, but I went to broadcasting school instead of college. I spent years spinning records and doing love song dedications. Congress passed a law changing the radio business forever. Behemoth broadcasting corporations ate up radio stations like locusts in a wheat field. Radio announcers like me were axed on bloody Fridays with surgical precision. I left radio and followed my dream to write.