cover image The Loner

The Loner

Lindsay McKenna. HQN, $7.99 mass market (384p) ISBN 978-0-373-77772-3

McKenna’s contemporary Jackson Hole, Wyo. series continues (after The Defender) with an uneasy mix of romance and suspense. Former Navy SEAL Dakota Carson and his wolf companion, Storm, are living in fairly self-sufficient isolation in the Teton Mountains when a grizzly attack injures Dakota. Sheriff’s deputy Shelby Kincaid assumes responsibility for overseeing the care of Storm and Dakota, as Dakota’s severe untreated PTSD prevents him from recovering in the hospital. Shelby and Dakota soon discover they are linked by the vicious rape and murder of Dakota’s sister, which Shelby investigated; tensions escalate when the killers escape and target Shelby for revenge. Dakota and Shelby’s common experience as wilderness trackers helps strengthen their bond once Dakota overcomes his initial disdain for “Deputy Barbie Doll.” McKenna’s enthusiasm for her setting and characters helps overcome tepid prose, excessive exposition, graphic details of sexual assault, and grizzlies meeting sad and gory ends. (July)