Against the Mark
Against the Mark by Kat Martin, book nine of The Raines of Wind Canyon series, is the romance between Ty Brodie and his client Haley Warren who suspects that her father died under suspicious circumstances. Ty is a private investigator, and a good ol' Alpha former Marine, long legs and movie-star handsome, survivor of previous novels in this series. Haley is a former socialite from Chicago, the daughter of an artistic mother and Haley's athletic father James. At the beginning of the story, Hayley is still stinging from her parent's divorce, and the marriage of her father to his second wife, pudgy, warm-hearted Betty Jean; and she's also aching from the pain of being estranged from her father at the time of his death.
I have read Kat Martin before, but not this series. I can vouch for the story standing on its own feet; I did not feel the need to read other stories to fill out the gaps in the story. That said, maybe someone who had been reading the series would have gotten into it faster or would have cared more about the characters. Perhaps I had a harder time getting interested in the story than someone who had a vested interest in Ty and his cousins. It just seemed to take a long time to get past the set-up. I was hooked by neither by the characters nor their investigation as much as I should have been. The set up had a lot of information linking back to secondary characters I assume were elsewhere in the series, none of whom do I have the inclination to pursue.
The characters seem drawn well, if somewhat stereotypical. Initially, the mystery-suspense is the search to discover if Hayley's father was murdered by his second wife Betty Jean. Ty's investigation uncovers that James had been looking into an art theft, so the question turns to a query into whether Jimmy's investigation uncovered too much about the art theft, or if he was actually involved. Ty's interest in his client seems kind of smarmy to me, and Haley comes across as shallow; but if you like the genre and Kat Martin in particular, this book might still be your cup of tea. It wasn't mine.