Becca Fitzpatrick’s new book is full of suspense, secrets, romance and dramatic twists. 17-year-old Estella Goodwinn is a witness to a violent murder; her testimony will keep Danny Balado behind bars for a long time. But Danny is a member of a drugs cartel and Danny’s men are after her. Estella is forced to enter a Witness Protection Programme and it’s goodbye to her previous life in Philadelphia, including boyfriend Reed. She becomes Stella Gordon and is taken to live in the sleepy mid-West town of Thunder Basin, with an ex-cop foster mother Carmina. Stella is not impressed, and makes sure everyone knows it. In spite of herself, though, she gradually gets sucked into Thunder Basin life – she starts work in a diner, makes friends with next door neighbour Chet Falconer and joins a softball team. She also stands up to local bad boy Trigger McLure, whose baseball-hero status and family’s influence mean that up till now he’s committed crimes with impunity. But just as Stella is beginning to enjoy herself, getting on well with Carmina and falling in love with Chet, she is recognised; her life is once more in danger.
Stella grows in appeal as a character throughout the book as we learn about her problematic background, and she shows her more sensitive side. I particularly liked the cowboy setting, full of Bible study groups, church fairs, rodeos and diners. It’s as much a love story as a thriller, but there are plenty of mysteries to keep the reader gripped: Why does Carmina dislike Chet when he’s quite clearly a wholesome good guy? What has happened to Carmina’s family? Why isn’t Reed replying to Stella through their secret email address? The main mysteries, however, are only revealed at the very end: What really happened the night of the murder, and why has Stella been lying?