"As they scramble for survival, can they find love or will secrets push them apart?"
Reviewed by Patti Loveday
Posted February 13, 2018
Romance Suspense | Inspirational Romance
TROUBLED WATERS is the fourth book in the Montana
Rescue book series written by Susan May Warren. This
is the first book that I have read in the Montana
Rescue series and the first book I have read from
this author. I feel that it can easily be read as a
standalone novel even though it is the conclusion of Ian and
Sierra's love story. You will root for them to be together
as you experience firsthand their love story. There is a
brief catch up summary at the beginning of the novel so that
you will know enough backstory to understand this current
Warren really outdid herself writing this extraordinary
story with its powerful spiritual message. When Sierra
agrees to a three-day excursion aboard Ian's yacht, she has
no idea what is in store. Then a nightmare of a wave washes
the yacht's passengers overboard leaving Ian and Sierra
scrambling for survival. Will a secret keep them apart or
bring them closer together? Warren includes characters from
her previous novels within this current novel to help mesh
together the Montana Rescue Book Series. The characters are
written so vividly, and realistic they seem as if they can
jump right off the pages. She also weaves in faith, danger,
suspense, and romance in a way that is powerful yet
heartbreaking at the same time. You will find powerful and
heartfelt messages within this story that will pull at your
heart strings. TROUBLED WATERS is a story that will not be
easy to forget and one that you will read again. I look
forward to reading the next book in this series.
A three day excursion turns into a nightmare when a
wave washes the passengers overboard, leaving Ian and
scrambling for survival. Sparks ignite as they wait for a
rescue, but will a secret keep them apart?
Billionaire Ian Shaw can have everything he wants--except a
happy ending. Or at least that's what it feels like with
fortune recently liquidated, his niece, Esme, still
and the woman he loves refusing to speak to him. In fact,
doubts she would date him even if they were stranded on a
Despite her love for Ian, Sierra Rose knows he has no room
in his life for her as long as the mystery of his missing
niece goes unsolved. The only problem is, Sierra has solved
it, but a promise to Esme to keep her whereabouts secret
made it impossible to be around Ian.
When the PEAK chopper is damaged and Sierra lacks the funds
to repair it, Ian offers a fundraising junket for large
donors on his yacht in the Caribbean. But the three-day
excursion turns into a nightmare when a rogue wave cripples
the yacht and sends the passengers overboard. Shaken up and
soaked to the bone, Ian finally has a chance to test his
theory when he and Sierra do indeed find themselves washed
up on a strange, empty shore.
It will take guts and gumption for the PEAK team to rescue
the duo. But it will take a miracle to rescue Ian and
ExcerptOh, this was a bad idea.
Epically, abysmally, horrendously bad. The kind of betrayal
that just might end any hope of resurrecting Sierra’s
already tattered relationship with her former
boss/friend/the man she couldn’t seem to stop loving.
Billionaire heartbreaker Ian Shaw.
Not that she and Ian had much in the way of friendship over
the past year, but . . . well, the hope of reigniting that
ember between herself and Ian still flickered . . .
Oh, who was she kidding? Sierra never had even the remotest
chance of Ian seeing her as anything more than his former
secretary, and her current decision had everything to do
with regret, redemption, and the hope of putting things
right. So maybe it didn’t matter that this could backfire
Besides, it was high time Esme Shaw came home. And if
anyone could engineer a homecoming, it was Sierra Rose,
former executive secretary and current administrative
assistant of the PEAK rescue team.
Sierra stood on the broken pavement in front of a three-
story foursquare house that had lived a former, grand life
as a stately, prairie-style home, with its boxy frame,
overhanging eaves, and deep front porch. Situated in the
historic neighborhoods of uptown Minneapolis, it seemed the
perfect place for a fugitive to hide.
Light from the third-story dormer windows suggested someone
—hopefully Esme—was home.
Except, the name on the postal records said Shae Johnson, a
nice Swedish name that Esme, with her wheat blonde hair and
blue eyes, could certainly pull off.
Sierra stepped up to the porch, past the early autumn
clutter of decaying gold and red leaves. She pressed her
hand against her stomach, blew out a breath, and pushed the
The sound bellowed through the house.
Sierra listened for footsteps, her heartbeat pounding
against the dying echo of the gong.
Maybe she hadn’t recognized the tentative, halting voice on
the recording. After all, she’d listened to nearly two
What were the chances that she would be the one to land
Esme’s call—and not Ian, or even Ty, who had helped Ian
sort through the nearly seven hundred calls that came in
after the America’s Missing episode.
Ian had engineered the episode, detailing the case of the
remains of a Jane Doe the team had found in Glacier
National Park last summer. He clung to the wild hope that
finding Jane’s true identity would somehow lead to clues
about Esme. Especially since the sheriff had supposedly
found a gold necklace like the one Esme owned on the body.
Only problem was, the body turned out not to be Esme’s, and
the whys of how the necklace came to be on the victim were
It had Ian plotting scenarios that kept him awake, pacing
and generally obsessing over finding his missing niece.
Sierra couldn’t live in his world any longer.
Not when she believed in her heart that Esme didn’t want to
At least not by her uncle Ian.
Footsteps echoed from inside the house, and Sierra braced
herself as an image formed in the cut glass of the front
Maybe she shouldn’t have gotten involved, shouldn’t have
succumbed to the need to fix the past.
Esme going missing had sort of, just a little, been
Sierra’s fault. And she’d invested four long, dedicated
years running down every lead Ian stirred up. Most of all,
helping vet callers gave her, pitifully, the smidgen of a
reason to stay on Ian’s radar. Or at least keep him on
Despite the better sense that she should completely walk
away from a man who had surely walked away from her.
Or at least let her go without a backward glance to her
years of dedication.
The door opened.
A short brunette stood in the frame. She wore a maroon
University of Minnesota sweatshirt and yoga pants and stood
barefoot despite the nip of the late-August evening.
“Can I help you?”
Not Esme. She remembered Esme’s voice crackling through the
recorded line, just a little breathless and tentative
enough to interject truth into her words.
“Jane Doe was murdered. I saw it all. She was pushed to her
death off . . . off Avalanche Creek.”
Which exactly matched the cause of Jane’s death—blunt force
trauma. And the location of the remains.
And why, perhaps, Esme had run. Was still running.
“I’m looking for . . . Shae. Shae Johnson—”
“Sierra. What are you doing here?”
Although Sierra had wildly hoped to be right, that finally
she’d be able to look into Esme’s beautiful blue eyes, pull
her into her arms, maybe weep with relief, nothing prepared
her for the sight of a grown-up Esme Shaw. With raven-black
hair, a tattoo sneaking up the side of her neck, and rows
of piercings outlining her ears.
She stood with one hand on the polished stair rail, wearing
a pair of ripped skinny jeans and a tank under an oversized
flannel shirt rolled up past her elbows. She wore her hair
down, straight and pushed back behind those deeply studded
Yet she still possessed stunning blue eyes.
Had it not been for those blue eyes, Sierra might not have
recognized the woman she’d known as a headstrong,
lovestruck teenager embroiled in a Romeo and Juliet romance
so many years ago.
Only, in this scenario, Juliet had lived.
Esme headed down the stairs, glanced at her pixie friend,
and grabbed Sierra by the hand. “You’d better come inside.”
She yanked Sierra across the threshold and closed the door
behind her. And then, as her friend/roommate raised an
eyebrow, Esme stepped back and crossed her arms over her
chest. Considered Sierra.
Okay. So not quite the homecoming moment Sierra had
“Shae, please.” She didn’t glance at her friend, who
frowned. “Esme died a long time ago.”
“No, she didn’t,” Sierra said softly, and then, because she
couldn’t help it, she put her arms around the girl.
Shae didn’t move to embrace her back. But she shook, her
Sierra leaned back, took the girl by her shoulders, and met
her eyes. “No one knows I’m here.”
Shae exhaled, but her face still bore a shade of question.
“Not even Ian.”
Shae nodded then and glanced at her roomie, who was clearly
enthralled by the sudden mystery of the identity of the
woman she knew as Shae. “This is my uncle’s secretary and
my, um, friend. Sierra Rose.”
“Brittany Pierce,” said the woman and shook Sierra’s hand.
“We need to talk,” Sierra said to Shae when Brittany let
“I gotta run,” Brittany said. “I have class. Shae, you
Shae’s gaze never left Sierra’s. “Nope. Tell the group I’ll
meet them later.” She nodded up the stairs for Sierra to
Four bedrooms upstairs, and Shae’s faced the tiny fenced-in
backyard. A college student’s bedroom, evidenced by the
books piled on the floor, a painted blue chair pulled up to
the chipped table Shae clearly used as a desk, and on it, a
A comforter lay tousled on the twin bed, and another chair
acted as a bedside table, complete with alarm clock and an
iPhone. A black and white poster of Marilyn Monroe hung
over the bed, and a lime-green painted chest of drawers
anchored the far wall.
An eclectic mix of garage sale finds, creatively
Shae pulled out the chair at the desk, offered it to
Sierra, and sank onto the bed, pulling up her leg to
embrace it. She wore black nail polish on her toes, her
fingers.“How’d you find me?”
Sierra sank down on the chair. “Your phone call.”
“I didn’t leave my name.”
“Ian set up a system that traced the GPS location of the
“Isn’t that illegal?”
“Maybe, but Ian was desperate.”
“I thought you said he didn’t know!”
Sierra held up her hand. “He doesn’t. I hired a guy, and he
found you—or at least where you placed the call.”
Shae stood up then, walked to the window. “It was just a
stupid impulse. I saw the show and thought—I couldn’t let
him get away with it anymore . . . and then I got scared
and hung up.”
Sierra let those words sink in. “Which is why you didn’t
leave the name of the killer, I’m guessing.”
Shae nodded but didn’t look at Sierra.
Sierra sighed. “Jane Doe’s name is Sofia d’Cruze, by the
way. She was a foreign exchange student from Spain.”
Shae had her back to her, her arms folded over her chest,
her fingers pressing into her arms.
“Esme—Shae, you saw it, didn’t you? The murder?”
Finally, she turned. Wiped her fingers under her eyes.
“Dante and I saw it.” She blew out a breath, came back over
to the bed, and sat on it. She leaned against the wall,
grabbing her pillow to her chest. “We were running away
Sierra didn’t move, didn’t even nod, the fight rushing back
to her. The dark memory of Ian finding Esme and her
boyfriend, Dante, in a romantic clench. Ian’s fear that his
grand plan for Esme’s future might unravel. His ultimatum
that she break it off with Dante.
And his despair the next morning when Esme vanished. All of
it could have been avoided, maybe, if Sierra had just told
him the truth about the teenagers.
“I loved him.” More tears, slow and streaking down Shae’s
cheeks. “I was so stupid.”
“You were young.”
“I was . . . entitled. I had no idea what Uncle Ian had
gone through to give me a future. I thought he was being a
dictator, demanding that Dante and I break up.” She closed
her eyes. “I was such a fool.”
She looked up, the mascara now gathering in the wells of
her eyes. “Really, it’s Shae. Esme was a privileged brat.”
Sierra closed her mouth before it sagged open.
“Esme got her boyfriend killed.”
Sierra stared at her.
“We were hiking out, down the trail along Avalanche Creek,
when we heard fighting. Dante told me to get down, and we
watched as a man tussled with this Sofia woman. He slapped
her, and Dante was furious. But we were on the other side
of the river—there was nothing we could do. I wanted to
shout, maybe distract him so the woman could get away, but
Dante told me to keep quiet.”
She stared straight ahead, her voice falling, as if seeing
“And then the man pushed her. She went flying into the
ravine, and I . . .” She shuddered. “I screamed.” Her eyes
closed, as if in pain. “I screamed. And the man turned and
She opened her eyes, looked at Sierra. “Dante grabbed my
hand, and we took off, back up the trail. I thought, if I
could get to Uncle Ian . . .” She reached over and pulled a
tissue from a box on the floor. Wiped her eyes, the mascara
washing off in a wave.
She swallowed, blew out a breath, leaned her head back. “We
didn’t make it. I don’t know if it was me—I was freaking
out, maybe slowing us down—but the man ran down the trail
and over the bridge and caught up with us. He . . .” She
made a noise, something of grief or horror that seemed to
shake through her. “Dante tried to protect me. The man had
me by the neck, ripped off my necklace, and Dante tried to
wrestle him off. He distracted him long enough for me to
get away. I ran down the trail and hid in the woods . . .”
She nodded then, as if settling upon the truth. “He killed
Dante as I watched. Then threw his body in the river.”
Sierra couldn’t move.
“I ran. And just kept running. I don’t know how, but I
found this little house in the woods. And a woman there who
calmed me down. I could barely speak, let alone tell her
what happened. I spent the night there, and she took me to
the other side of the park, and I just . . . just kept
Just kept running. “Why didn’t you come home?”
Shae shook her head.
“No, see, he’s still out there.”
“How do you know? He might be dead or a tourist or—”
“He’s very much alive. And still living in Mercy Falls.”
And that was when Shae looked toward the window at the
twilight that had begun to fall over the skyline of
Sierra tried to scrabble her words into a coherent thought.
“Do we . . . does Ian know him?”
Her stomach clenched when Shae nodded. “Which means that
you’re safer if you don’t know.”
“He can’t hurt you if you don’t suspect him.” She got up,
tossed her pillow to the floor. “I should have never
called. I was . . . angry. And I just kept thinking of the
way he . . .” She breathed in. “I loved Dante. The last
thing he shouted was my name.”
Oh, Shae. Sierra got up and reached out for her, but Shae
held up her hand. “I’m okay. I’ve moved on. I had some
money, and I used it to get me to Fargo, North Dakota. I
got a job and finally moved down to Minneapolis. Became
Shae along the way. And now I’m in my second year at the
Minneapolis College of Art and Design. I’m starting over,
and so should Uncle Ian.”
“Ian is obsessed with finding you.”
“He loves you. And he blames himself for you running away.”
Shae tightened her lips, and Sierra thought maybe she’d hit
a hot button.
“Please, just meet with him. Tell him you’re alive. Explain
“And get him and everyone I love killed?”
Her words shuddered through Sierra. “Really?”
Shae lifted her shoulder. “Maybe. I don’t know. But . . .
wouldn’t you do anything to keep someone you loved safe?”
“Ian has resources. He can take care of himself. Give him a
chance. Come home, tell him your story, and let him bring
Dante’s killer to justice.”
Shae’s jaw tightened.
“He’s mentioned offering a million-dollar reward for anyone
who knows anything about your disappearance.”
Shae sucked in a breath. “No, please, he can’t—”
Sierra held up her hand. “I’ll try and talk him out of it—”
“He’ll do anything for you, Sierra. Please.”
Sierra wanted to wince. “Uh, no, he won’t. Not only do I
not work for him anymore, but we’re barely talking.”
“What? Why?” Shae grabbed her hand now, a strange show of
panic. “You two belong together.”
Sierra just stared at her.
“I wasn’t so consumed with my own problems that I couldn’t
see that Uncle Ian was crazy about you. What happened?”
You vanished. But Sierra kept her mouth closed, shrugged.
“Listen, you have to be there for him. He needs you.”
Sierra didn’t have the strength to rehash the past four
years, to argue with her. “No, he needs you. Come home. Let
him protect you—you know he can. At least long enough to
set things right and let him go on with his life.”
Shae let go of her hand. But she didn’t argue. “Okay, I’ll
think about it. Give me a month.”
A month? But Sierra nodded.
“And in the meantime, please, please, don’t tell Uncle Ian.
He’ll just fly out here and . . . well, who knows. He
wasn’t exactly rational last time I saw him.”
He wasn’t likely to be rational about a killer after Esme,
either. Or the fact that Sierra might be harboring another
secret from him, the very reason he fired her in the first
But Sierra knew a little about needing space to figure out
her next step.
“Okay, one month. And then I’m telling Ian whether you come
home or not. He deserves to know.”
Shae drew in a breath but finally nodded. “Deal.”
One month. And then the nightmare ended.
Because she just might be repeating the mistake that had
cost her the only job, the only man, the only life she ever
What do you think about this review?
No comments posted.
Registered users may leave comments.
Log in or register now!