Review of Stroke of Luck

Stroke of Luck (Sterling's Montana) by [Daniels, B.J.]

Stroke of Luck

Sterling’s Montana Series

B.J. Daniels

HQN Books

February 19, 2019

Blurb: He’s hoping to bury the past. She’s ready to settle the score.

The Sterling Ranch’s season opening isn’t going so smoothly. With the ranch’s lodge full of guests and a Montana blizzard threatening, Will Sterling needs help—and he needs it fast. So when his childhood friend Poppy Carmichael agrees to lend a hand, he’s grateful for a second chance…and more enticed by the woman she’s become than he cares to admit.

For Poppy, it was supposed to be a retreat full of horse rides and hoedowns—with a side of showing Will what he’s been missing all these years. But as the snow deepens outside, the guests’ suspicion and mistrust turn sinister inside, catching Will and Poppy in the crosshairs.

Weathering the storm in each other’s arms is all too easy for Will and Poppy, but will a confrontation with a killer mean their reunion is short-lived?


B.J. Daniels is known for her line of romantic suspense with Harlequin, and I have enjoyed past books of hers. Stroke of Luck, which begins her new Sterling’s Montana series, misses the mark in two respects for me.

First off, the characterization frequently felt “off.” When I read a rugged cowboy thinking that a meatball is “divine,” I figure that someone in the publication of this book wasn’t paying attention. I don’t know anyone in my life who would say “divine” about anything without it being mockingly said, women as well as men. Also, there’s some confusion as to how he felt about 12-year old Poppy when he was 15. He makes comments that seemed a little out of character, which made me scratch my head.

Secondly, and this is something I’ve mentioned before if you’ve read any of my reviews or followed my blog, is how difficult it is to pull off romantic suspense/thrillers/etc. If you are in danger are you really going to fool around? If your barn is on fire, your horses in the barn, are you really going to stand there trying to figure out whether you want to continue having sex or are you going to save your horses and see if you can save your barn? That is really a non-question for me, but not so for our hero.

Likewise, if you’re in a room of potential murderers, where are your thoughts going to be? Hopefully on self-preservation.

All of that said, the mystery and suspense element was great. The mystery felt a little like that Agatha Christie story, And Then There Were None, in which people are in a secluded area where they can’t escape and begin dying. It’s such a great plot that it’s fun to see it in different settings.

This was one mystery that I didn’t guess right away and that’s why I don’t want to be too hard on the book. The writing and characterization = meh, but the mystery = so, so good.

Stroke of Luck is told in multiple povs. I’m not usually a fan of this for the reason that I think it detracts from characterization as it does here, but for the mystery aspect, I let it go.

On a side note, a very, very side note, I wasn’t thrilled about Poppy’s menus. The elements sounded good on their own but put together all sounded too sweet: sweet meat glaze, sweet glaze on veggies, sweet potatoes, dessert. Yikes.

This is recommended for die-hard Daniels’ fans, readers who love Montana, readers who will overlook the romance aspects in order to enjoy the mystery. Don’t read this if you tend to eye-roll when romance is placed above the mystery and makes the hero and heroine stupid because your eyes could get stuck that way.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Stroke of Luck goes on sale on February 19. You can pre-order it from Amazon here.



3 butterflies and a ladybug out of 5 butterflies


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