Montana Heat: Escape to You
There’s something so compelling about an escape story, don’t you think? The joy as someone held captive is returned to the world and reunited with their family gets me every time. That was the big draw of Escape to You when I picked it up for review, but unfortunately, while I enjoyed the drama of this story, the romance didn’t quite work for me.
Escape to You is the second book in the Montana Heat series but you don’t need to read book one to enjoy this novel.
Ashley Swan is a world-renowned movie star whose distaste for the spotlight shone on her personal life is well known. When she disappeared after a film opening, many people speculated that she chose to retreat from the public eye for a while. However, as days and weeks turned into a year, people began to wonder if something more sinister had happened to Ashley – but no one ever guessed that a brief sojourn at a friend’s Montana cabin had turned into a living hell for the actress. When Escape to You opens, the first anniversary of Ashley’s disappearance is coming up when she stumbles upon an opportunity to escape her captivity. When Brice Mooney (her captor) leaves a door unlocked, Ashley makes a run for it, bringing with her a small boy named Adam who’s been similarly confined to Brice’s estate.
After fleeing into the cold Montana night, Ashley quickly gets lost and soon succumbs to the cold. Luckily, Beck Cooke happens across Ashley and Adam huddled in the snow, and brings them back to his nearby house. Beck, a DEA agent, retreated to Montana after an undercover operation went wrong and has taken some time to cope with the unfortunate fallout. At a time where he feels like anything but a hero, Beck finds some solace in helping Ashley and Adam.
Naturally, the brief peace the trio finds at Beck’s cabin does not last. Not only does Brice begin hunting for his escaped captives, but Beck and Ashley decide that the best defense is a good offense, and they begin the process of reporting Brice for his misdeeds. Ashley makes the difficult choice to go to the hospital to have her injuries evaluated and documented, and it’s clear that she would’ve fallen apart very early in the process without Beck’s support.
I would by no means consider myself an expert in the psychology of trauma victims, but there’s something about Ashley’s recovery – and simultaneous involvement with Beck – which feels a little off. Her therapist mentions that this attachment to Beck could be unhealthy in terms of her recovery, yet Ashley and Beck jump into bed together almost immediately. Rather than furthering the fairy-tale atmosphere of the book (given the damsel in distress and white-knight rescuer, it really does have that aesthetic), the instantaneous relationship only served to pull me out of the story. I could accept that Ashley had the good fortune to be rescued by The One, but I had trouble with how comfortable she was diving into a new romance after everything Brice did to her.
That said, the rest of the story is pretty satisfying; it’s fast paced and interesting, albeit unsurprising, as we know and understand the villain from the beginning. In a way this might have added to my discomfort with the romance, as more time devoted to the action plot meant less for romantic elements, adding to the rushed feeling of the relationship. Both Ashley and Beck are likeable characters, and it’s clear that they’re good together, each healing from their own wounds with help from the other. But it felt a little fast and unlikely, which caused me to downgrade an otherwise solid book.
If you can look past Ashley’s improbable mental state post-captivity, you might very well enjoy this story. If you’re not interested in Escape to You, though, I’d still suggest looking up Ms. Ryan’s backlist. While the romance in this book didn’t work for me, I enjoyed almost everything else in the story, and I definitely intend to read some of her other work.