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Security Force of Two (Mountain Town Mysteries, #1) by Tena Stetler 

Action-packed paranormal mystery with several intriguing plotlines to follow. 

After an assignment goes against her principles, CIA operative Candle Bearclaw resigns and returns to her small hometown of Aspen Ridge, Colorado, to open a cyber security firm. Her father, the former Chief of Police of the town, and her mother are ecstatic to have her back home, having seen far too little of her during her fifteen years with the agency. With their daughter home, they are finally ready to enjoy their retirement.

 Former military intelligence officer Miacoh Zane has returned to Aspen Ridge to settle the estate of his beloved grandmother, Rosy. His grandparents had raised him after it had become too much for his father, who had been critically injured during a hunting trip in Canada, and his mother had abruptly taken off. Miacoh had immediately recognized the all-grown-up Candle as the pre-teen girl who had had the biggest crush on him when he was in high school. But the memories in Aspen Ridge were painful ones, and Miacoh had no intention of hanging around town to encourage an adult relationship with her. 

Soon after their reintroduction, though, the new police chief of Aspen Ridge is murdered, and Candle’s former CIA boss dies under suspicious circumstances. Candle starts asking questions that someone doesn’t want to be answered. When perhaps that same someone disables her security system and tries to hack into her computer, she realizes she won’t be able to leave her old life behind as easily as she had planned, and Miacoh’s instincts to protect those he loves kick into high gear. Together, they are determined to figure out who is behind the murders and why these people were targeted. 

Security Force of Two is the debut novel in author Tena Stetler’s new paranormal mystery series, Mountain Town Mysteries. This kick-off sets the stage for more to come with supernatural elements such as shapeshifters and second sight. It introduces a variety of characters and backstories on which to build some amazing follow-up tales. I look forward to seeing what the author does with all the possibilities she’s created. 

The main characters, Candle and Miacoh, are the most sympatico partners I’ve seen in a long time. Yes, there is a little push and pull in the beginning over the idea of one “belonging” to the other and an incident of green-eyed jealousy, but they work things out quickly. There are a lot of secondary characters gracing the pages, but Candle’s parents are my favorites. 

The plot gets the two lovers together while they look into murders, espionage, and domestic terrorism. Along with Candle’s Chow puppy, Terrabyte, the two seek out those behind the crimes and are steps ahead of the FBI and Homeland Security, calling in favors from friends from their shadowy, classified pasts. The story has a lot going on, and the feeling that someone in the background is manipulating things is always present. 

I did have one tiny quibble with the story early on, and not pertinent to the ongoing action. Dogs are not allowed on the grounds of The Alamo unless they meet the ADA definition of a service dog and have completed training as such. Terrabyte, as a puppy, would not have been old enough to have been trained, and based on Candle’s established personality and strong ethical background, I doubt she would try to circumvent the rules. 

With its intriguing characters and paranormal backstory, I recommend SECURITY FORCE OF TWO to readers of paranormal mysteries or paranormal romantic suspense, especially those who like puppies that are “very good girls” and fans of the author’s previous work. 

I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving an Advanced Review Copy from the author through Goddess Fish Promotions Book Tours.

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