Saturday, September 17, 2016


Kate Fox is living the dream. She’s married to Grand County Sheriff Ted Conner, the heir to her beloved Nebraska Sandhills cattle ranch, where they live with Kate’s orphaned teenage niece, Carly. With the support of the well-connected Fox Clan, which includes Kate’s eight boisterous and interfering siblings, Ted’s reelection as Grand County Sheriff is virtually assured. That leaves Kate to the solitude and satisfaction of Frog Creek, her own slice of heaven.

One night Kate answers a shattering phone call from Roxy at the Bar J. Carly’s granddad Eldon, owner of the ranch, is dead and Ted has been shot and may never walk again. Kate vows to find the killer. She soon discovers Ted responded so quickly to the scene because he was already at the Bar J . . . in Roxy’s bed. And to add to her woes, Carly has gone missing.

Kate finds out that Eldon was considering selling his ranch to an obscenely rich environmentalist. Some in town hate the idea of an outsider buying up land, others are desperate to sell . . . and some might kill to get their way. As she becomes the victim of several “accidents,” Kate knows she must find the killer before it’s too late. . . .(synopsis from Amazon)

4.5 stars

STRIPPED BARE is a solid start to a promising series. Kate is a strong, take no prisoners heroine who isn’t afraid of hard work or the truth, even if it hurts. Ms. Baker introduces readers to a life that, while sharing many similarities with farming, is worlds apart. Kate loves the hard life of a cattle rancher and this grit is what makes her such an appealing protagonist.
-Who in this small tightknit community could have killed Eldon and shot Ted? It’s not comforting to entertain the thought of someone you’ve known for years being a killer.
-How long has Ted been cheating with Roxy, his former high school sweetheart?
-Does this spell the end of her marriage and where has her niece Carly taken off to?  There’s a lot packed into a short period of time in STRIPPED BARE as Kate deals with a plethora of problems and a series of “accidents”. Are they designed to scare her off or is there a more sinister motive behind them?

-A colorful cast, most of which are Kate’s family.
-An austere yet strangely appealing setting.
-A solid mystery with the who, why, and how wrapped up nicely without being predictable while leaving an opening for book two.
-Kate’s a lead with gumption, a strong work ethic, sense of right, wrong, and responsibility, and last but not least, a stainless steel spine.
-An ending that had me cheering Kate. Had my doubts for a bit…

STRIPPED BARE will no doubt have readers clamoring for book two.

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