Green Chile Corn Chowder

Green Chile Corn Chowder

With snow on the ground and the possibility of freezing fog I thought it would be a good time to make something warm and comforting. With just a little kick! The best part of this recipe? Fix it early with little mess and when you are done eating clean up is a snap. And of course it comes taste-tester approved.

  • 1 can 15-oz or 16.5 oz cream style corn
  • 4 potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 2 tbs fresh chives, chopped
  • 1 can 4 oz diced green chilies, drained
  • 2 oz jar pimentos, chopped
  • 1 cup diced ham
  • 3 cups chicken broth or bouillon
  • 1 cup milk or light cream
  • 1 cup montery jack cheese, shredded


  • 1/4 cub cubed Velveeta cheese
  • 1/4 cup jalapeno juice

In crockpot combine all ingredients except milk/cream and cheese.  Cook on LOW 7 to 8 hours or until potatoes are tender.  Stir in milk or cream and cheese.  Reheat until cheese is melted.  If soup is too thin for your taste, you can thicken with instant mashed potatoes.  Just add to get desired consistency.


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Is the cross just a fashion statement?

Is the cross just a fashion statement?

I see crosses on people of all beliefs or non-belief. People wear crosses as necklaces, earrings, rings, and tattoos. Sometimes they are used as props for movies or as body art on scantily clad models in magazine ads. Even Christians will stick a cross lapel-pin into their tie or wear jewelry with coolly decorated crosses dangling from them. But as a Christian, when we wear the cross it should be obvious that it is a representation of what Jesus Christ died on so many years ago. We should be diligent that, even for our own selves, the true, original meaning of the cross does not get lost.

With this conviction in mind, I decided to look at the historical writings, medical facts, and scripture to gain an understanding of just what crucifixion was. When I was through with my studies I began to understand John 15:13 through the eyes of the man who literally lived this scripture out to fulfillment. No greater love!

It is reasonable to assume that Jesus was in good physical condition before his walk to Gethsemane. However, during Jesus’ time in Gethsemane he suffered great emotional stress (as evidenced by sweating blood) and abandonment by his closest friends (the disciples). In addition, the next days brought more stress in the form of a physical beating (after the first Jewish trial), a traumatic and sleepless night, and being forced to walk more than 2.5 miles to and from the sites of the various trials. These physical and emotional factors may have rendered Jesus particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of the scourging that was to follow.

At the Praetorian, it is most likely that Jesus was severely whipped as was Roman custom. Although the severity of the scourging is not discussed in the four gospel accounts, it is implied in one of the epistles [1 Peter 2:24 – “. . . by His wounds . . .]. The severe scourging, with its intense pain and appreciable blood loss, most probably left Jesus in a pre-shock state. Medical texts indicate that a person who has the condition that causes them to sweat blood would have particularly tender skin. The scourging prior to crucifixion served to weaken the condemned man and, if blood loss was considerable, to produce hypotension and even shock. The physical and mental abuse meted out by the Jews and the Romans, as well as the lack of food, water, and sleep, also contributed to Jesus’ generally weakened state. Even before the actual crucifixion, Jesus’ physical condition was at least serious and possibly critical.

The Roman soldiers, amused that this weakened man had claimed to be a king, began to mock him by placing a robe on his shoulders, a crown of thorns on his head, and a wooden staff as a scepter in his hand. Next, they spat on Jesus and struck him on the head with the wooden staff.

After the scourging and the mocking the Roman soldiers put Jesus’ clothes back on him and then led him and two thieves to be crucified. Crucifixion was one of the most disgraceful and cruel methods of execution. It was customary for the condemned man to carry his own cross from the flogging post to the site of crucifixion outside the city walls. Only the crossbar was carried and it weighed 75 to 125 lb. This was placed across the nape of the victim’s neck and balanced along both shoulders. Usually, the outstretched arms were tied to the crossbar. Jesus apparently was so weakened by the severe flogging that he could not carry the crossbar from the Praetorian to the site of crucifixion one third of a mile away. Simon of Cyrene was summoned to carry Christ’s cross, and the processional then made its way to Golgotha (or Calvary), an established crucifixion site.

The processional to the site of crucifixion was led by a complete Roman military guard, headed by a centurion. One of the soldiers carried a sign (titulus) on which the condemned man’s name and crime were displayed. Later, the titulus would be attached to the top of the cross.

Jesus’ clothes, except for a linen loincloth, again were removed, which probably reopened the scourging wounds. At the site of execution, by law, the victim was given a bitter drink of wine mixed with myrrh as a mild analgesic. After tasting it, Jesus refused the drink. Jesus was then thrown to the ground on his back, with his arms outstretched along the crossbar. When the victim was thrown to the ground on his back, in preparation for transfixion of the hands, his scourging wounds most likely would become torn open again and contaminated with dirt. The hands could be nailed or tied to the crossbar, but nailing apparently was preferred by the Romans. Although a nail in either location in the wrist might pass between the bony elements and thereby produce no fractures, the likelihood of painful injury was great. The driven nail would crush or sever nerves. The stimulated nerve would produce excruciating bolts of fiery pain in both arms.

After both arms were fixed to the crossbar, the bar and the victim, together, were lifted onto the main upright beam. This was done either by four Roman soldiers or by the use of either wooden forks or ladders.

Next, the feet were fixed to the cross, either by nails or ropes. When the nailing was complete, the titulus was attached to the cross just above the victim’s head. With each respiration, the painful scourging wounds would be scraped against the rough wood of the main pole. As a result, blood loss from the back probably would continue throughout the crucifixion ordeal.

The major effect of crucifixion, beyond the excruciating pain, was a marked interference with normal respiration, particularly exhalation. The weight of the body, pulling down on the outstretched arms and shoulders, would tend to fix the muscles in an inhalation state and thereby hinder passive exhalation. Breathing would become shallow. It is likely that this form of respiration would not suffice and the onset of muscle cramps or painful tendon contractions, due to fatigue and lack of oxygen would soon begin and would hinder respiration even further. Adequate exhalation required lifting the body by pushing up on the feet and by flexing the elbows and adducting the shoulders. However, this maneuver would place the entire weight of the body on the nailed feet and would produce searing pain. Flexing of the elbows would cause rotation of the wrists about the iron nails and cause fiery pain along the arms. Lifting of the body would also painfully scrape the scourged back against the rough wooden cross. Muscle cramps of the outstretched and uplifted arms would add to the discomfort. As a result, each respiratory effort would become agonizing and tiring and lead eventually to asphyxia. Christ spoke seven times from the cross. Since speech occurs during exhalation, these short, terse utterances would have been particularly difficult and painful.

It was not uncommon for insects to light upon or burrow into the open wounds or the eyes, ears, and nose of the dying and helpless victim. Birds of prey would tear at these wounds.

The soldiers and the civilian crowd taunted Jesus throughout the crucifixion ordeal, and the soldiers’ cast lots for his clothing. Soldiers customarily divided up his clothes among themselves. The length of survival generally ranged from three or four hours to three or four days. Often death would be hastened by breaking the condemned man’s legs below the knees. Since the Jews did not want the bodies to remain on the crosses after sunset, the beginning of the Sabbath, they asked Pontius Pilate to order that the legs of the condemned be broken to hasten the deaths of the three crucified men. The soldiers broke the legs of the two thieves, but when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Rather, one of the soldiers pierced his side, probably with an infantry spear, and produced a sudden flow of blood and water. The Roman guard would not leave the victim until they were sure of his death. Since no one was intended to survive crucifixions the body was not released to the family until the Roman soldiers were sure that the victim was dead. It was custom for one of the Roman guards to pierce the body with a sword or lance, wounding the heart through the right side of the chest. If the victim was not dead before this wound, it most certainly would prove fatal.

Jesus’ death after only three to six hours on the cross surprised even Pontius Pilate. The fact that Jesus cried out in a loud voice and then bowed his head and died suggests the possibility of a catastrophic terminal event. Jesus’ death may have been hastened simply by his state of exhaustion and by the severity of the scourging, with its resultant blood loss and preshock state. The fact that he could not carry his crossbar supports this theory. The actual cause of Jesus’ death, like that of other crucified victims, may have been caused by multiple factors and related primarily to shock, exhaustion asphyxia, and perhaps acute heart failure.

Death by crucifixion was, in every sense of the word, excruciating (Latin, excruciatus, or “out of the cross”).

I deserved this, and yet Christ suffered in my place. The gift of forgiveness brought through the cross is for me – angels can’t experience it; demons can’t repent and gain access back to heaven; no other living creation but man has forgiveness through the cross.

So if I wear a cross, I do so as a reminder of what should have been my punishment. Lately I find that it is harder for me to wear a cross without realizing the responsibility wearing such a symbol means. For me, I pray that I never make the cross just a fashion statement!

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The Christian Bear

The Christian Bear

There was a man who one day didnt feel like going to church so he decided to go hunting instead. He was out in the bush when he was aproched from behind by a bear. He dropped his gun by accident but didn’t bother to pick it up.

That was a huge mistake, the man realized, when he ran into a hungry bear in the woods. He ran for his life. Weaving in and out the trees with the bear on his trail. Curving around a tree he triped over its root. He looked up and the bear looked down. When the bear was about to strike at him, the man put his hands together and prayed:

“Dear lord, Please let this bear be a Christian.”

There was a flash of lightening and a clap of thunder. Suddenly the bear sat down on it’s bum (on the man), reverently folded his hands and bowed his head, closed his eyes and said: “Dear lord, Thank you for the food that I am about to recieve”

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The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

From The Hobbit

“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.”

The hobbit-hole in question belongs to one Bilbo Baggins, an upstanding member of a “little people, about half our height, and smaller than the bearded dwarves.” He is, like most of his kind, well off, well fed, and best pleased when sitting by his own fire with a pipe, a glass of good beer, and a meal to look forward to. Certainly this particular hobbit is the last person one would expect to see set off on a hazardous journey; indeed, when Gandalf the Grey stops by one morning, “looking for someone to share in an adventure,” Baggins fervently wishes the wizard elsewhere. No such luck, however; soon 13 fortune-seeking dwarves have arrived on the hobbit’s doorstep in search of a burglar, and before he can even grab his hat or an umbrella, Bilbo Baggins is swept out his door and into a dangerous adventure.

The dwarves’ goal is to return to their ancestral home in the Lonely Mountains and reclaim a stolen fortune from the dragon Smaug. Along the way, they and their reluctant companion meet giant spiders, hostile elves, ravening wolves–and, most perilous of all, a subterranean creature named Gollum from whom Bilbo wins a magical ring in a riddling contest. It is from this life-or-death game in the dark that J.R.R. Tolkien’s masterwork, The Lord of the Rings, would eventually spring. Though The Hobbit is lighter in tone than the trilogy that follows, it has, like Bilbo Baggins himself, unexpected iron at its core. Don’t be fooled by its fairy-tale demeanor; this is very much a story for adults, though older children will enjoy it, too. By the time Bilbo returns to his comfortable hobbit-hole, he is a different person altogether, well primed for the bigger adventures to come–and so is the reader. Description from

My review:
I decided to read The Hobbit because the movie is coming out soon and it looks like it will be great. Let me just say that if you haven’t read The Hobbit yet it should be on your “must-read” list. While it is true that Tolkien originally created The Hobbit for his children, it is a story that will appeal to all ages. The narrative has a simple and easy to read style. There is a little violence in the story, but not so much that anyone over the age of 7 can’t read the book.

If you are looking for a great book to read as a family, I recommend The Hobbit. Some discussion points for families are: Does Bilbo change and/or develop as a character? How does Bilbo relate to other characters in the book? Do you find the characters likable? Are the characters creatures you would want to meet?” There are so many other things to discuss in the book as Bilbo Baggins continues on his journey and in the process is transformed from a homebody to a great adventurer.

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Broken – Lessons Learned From The Past

Broken – Lessons Learned From The Past

I wrote the following over a year ago, but as I was reading it the other day I realized that these lessons are still a part of me today and worth sharing again.  Thank goodness that God is still building me, shaping me, forming me into a better version of His creation than I ever thought possible.

The most accurate description of brokenness I can come up with is that it is like living on a precipice.  Somehow I’ve had the resilience to climb back up to my perch on the precipice and cautiously stand; afraid to make a move in case I tumble back into one of the valleys that surrounds me on all sides. It’s from this vantage point that I’m writing about a few things I’ve learned.

I have learned that brokenness will either transform or destroy you. What it will never do is leave you the same. I don’t think that experiencing a catastrophic loss, whether self-imposed or from outside forces, will ever entirely leave our soul. If anything it may go deeper in our soul, but as it goes deeper it enlarges the soul so that we become capable of mourning and rejoicing at the same time. We learn what it means to have a sweet sorrow. We never go through this alone. It is in the place of our deepest pain and greatest brokenness that the Lord is mercifully present as we learn to humble ourselves before Him.

I have learned that God works through our brokenness in ways we could never begin to imagine. God partners with broken people. He tells us “I see you, I know you, you are not invisible to me.” He wants to see people reconciled with each other and reconciled with Him. It takes hard work to get to this place. The first thing I have had to be able to face is the truth. Truth about who I am and who I was. Truth about my role in fracturing relationships. I have learned that we can’t be set free from anything in our past unless we are willing to admit it. This doesn’t mean that I have to stand in front of a microphone or produce a detailed recording of confession for everyone. But it does mean that for some relationships I will have to confess before any healing can take place.

I have learned to turn to the Bible. The Bible has become a constant companion. It is my light during moments of darkness. God has spoken words of comfort through it when I desperately needed them. I am learning to spend more time with my Bible than I do with any other human being. It is a love letter to me from God. Jesus Christ has become very real and apparent through the words I read. As more of God’s Word is revealed to me, I am developing a deeper trust for Him. I see God expressing words of intense brokenness, sorrow and grief over me – someone that He loves. I read where He feels the sting of our every wound and weeps with us through every painful moment. The Bible shows me that I am not alone in my sin and that the Christian journey is one of God bringing us out of our sinful, rule-based, self-righteous, self-sufficient, prideful dependence on our own capabilities into dependence on Him. His word is unfolding before me and describing God’s renewing work in the midst of my tears. I understand what Oswald Chambers meant when he wrote, “The Bible was written in tears and to tears it yields its treasures.”

I have learned that the sins we willingly indulge in will become our destruction. When we play with fire, we are going to get burned. God will allow us to suffer the consequences of our sins. Sin can fracture relationships, and it is painful to walk around barefoot among the shards. These broken bonds hurt – they hurt in the deepest places that we never want to talk about. The truth is that sin, unchecked and unrepented of, is devastating. I can no longer walk in my own strength and charm successfully. In fact, charm has flown out the window. I walk in utter failure. I have been emptied of so much of my old self. Admitting I don’t have it all together is hard to do. I can live with that. I will gratefully walk with a spiritual limp from now on.

Repentance follows confession. The Greek word for repentance is “to think in a new direction”. I have offered up both the dry-eyed confession of sin that is more of a decision of will and the sacrifice of gut-wrenching confession that comes from sorrow. Although more painful, I can only hope that all of my confessions from this point on carry the sting of godly sorrow and tears. It was not seeing my sin so glaringly in my face or my world shattered at my feet that brought me to repentance. It was God’s love and kindness, His severe mercy. I could not begin to comprehend all I needed to repent of, because I could not begin to unravel the deceitfulness of my heart. But what I did have was humility in my brokenness. God’s love has accomplished what my legalism never could. It has brought me to a place of brokenness and humility. It is impossible for me to fully understand the disparity between God and myself, but through mercy and love I can begin to see that there is freedom from the chronic, nagging, un-resolved inner pain that drives me away from instead of towards God. Repentance is not punishment. Repentance is what we do because we are forgiven. It is not what we do to earn forgiveness. Repentance is an expression of gratitude and sorrow for sin. We have nothing to fear when we come to God in brokenness and repentance. Through repentance I have found an intimate place of great grace with my Father. From this point of brokenness the possibilities for restoration are boundless.

I have learned much about forgiveness, both my own capacity for extending it and others capacity for giving it. Every morning I have to make a decision to be willing to let go of past hurts or grudges, or I will never be free of them. Forgiveness is about letting go of the right to hold myself or others in judgment about how I feel I have wronged or been wronged by them. Forgiveness is an extension of love and it makes us vulnerable. But one cannot truly love without vulnerability. It was Christ’s love for us that made Him vulnerable and led him to sacrifice himself on a cruel and wonderful cross for those who did not love him.

I have learned that compassion and forgiveness from others are necessary, but once we trust God and His never failing mercy we can continue on even if we never receive compassion or forgiveness from others. Compassion requires us to go to the place where the broken person is. It requires us to go with someone to where they are weak, vulnerable, lonely and broken. To a broken person, the mere flicker of a look of disapproval or pointed silence will cause the shattered soul to shut down. Their hope for understanding seeps deeper into feelings of isolation and despair. They wonder if anyone cares enough to listen. Fear of being rejected or judged or hearing negative messages block our freedom to express grief. The broken person does not need helpful suggestions or scriptures quoted to them. Why is it that the scripture that admonishes us to weep with those who weep is most overlooked? Larry Crabb wrote, “When life kicks us in the stomach, we want someone to be with us as we are, not as he or she wishes us to be. We don’t want someone trying to make us feel better. That effort, no matter how well intended, creates a pressure that adds to our distress.” When the bottom falls out of our world, we need our deacons, elders, ministers, Sunday school teachers, and fellow believers to show up on our doorstep as soon as they can and offer nothing more than prayers and tears. Don’t wait to be asked. Just show up. For someone who is broken, the lack of this immediate reaching out can be the most painful part of the whole process.

Restoration from brokenness is not a quick fix. It is a lifelong process. I will have to make choices to intentionally replace sinful behavior with Godly behavior. There will be days when I must face my past and all the pain and anguish my choice and others choices have caused in my world.

For Christians, brokenness and the healing from brokenness is at the very heart of our faith. Jesus experienced brokenness in the flesh so we can be assured that God knows brokenness not in some abstract, spiritual way but in a very real and physical way. But God didn’t leave Jesus in a broken state. God didn’t give up. God continued a work of restoration in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Why is it that when brokenness comes to us, we bury it somewhere deep inside us where it can simmer and gnaw away at our peace, faith and health until it has turned our hearts to stone, compounding our pride and unbrokenness layer by layer?

Brokenness molds our character closer to the character of God. Defeat, disappointment, loss, all of these things move us closer to God. I write this note from an honest admission of my inability to come to repentance or restoration unless Christ intercedes. I write from brokenness and a stripping of self. I am learning to thank God for the gift of holy moments and healing tears that bring me to His feet in brokenness. These moments make room for grace, forgiveness, comfort, healing, delivering and transformation. My sincerest hope is that through my brokenness Christ can be glorified.

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Tasty Thursday? – Bacon Wrapped Green Beans

Tasty Thursday? – Bacon Wrapped Green Beans

My sister-in-law made these at our Christmas get together and I’ve been craving them ever since. Even though it sounds time intensive to wrap green beans, it really goes fast and the end result is well worth it. Trust me – these little bundles will not stay around long!


1 (12 ounce) package bacon, strips cut in half

3 cans green beans (I used the uncut kind)

2 tablespoons brown sugar

salt and pepper to taste

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a casserole dish.
  • Clean and cut the green beans, blanch for 10 minutes. Drain and place green beans in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process.
  • Set out the bacon, green beans and casserole dish in a little assembly line. Lay out a half strip of bacon. place a small bunch of green beans (6 or 7) onto the strip of bacon and roll up into a bundle. Place the bundle into the casserole dish, seam side down. Repeat with remaining bacon strips and green beans. You can pack these pretty tight in the pan, just know that if the bacon is touching another bundle they take some prying to get apart. Sprinkle with the brown sugar and salt and pepper.
  • Bake in the preheated oven until browned and heated through, about 20 minutes. If the bacon still needs a little more cooking a quick broil will do.
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Julie Collins Series by Lori Armstrong

Julie Collins Series by Lori Armstrong

Book #1 - Blood Ties

Nominated in 2006 for a Shamus Award for Best First Novel by the Private Eye Writers of America.

Julie Collins is stuck in a dead-end secretarial job with the Bear Butte County Sheriff’s office, and still grieving over the unsolved murder of her Lakota half-brother. Lack of public interest in finding his murderer or the killer of several other transient Native American men, has left Julie with a bone-deep cynicism she counters with tequila, cigarettes, and dangerous men. The one bright spot in her mundane life is the time she spends working part-time as a PI with her childhood friend, Kevin Wells.

When the body of a sixteen-year old white girl is discovered in nearby Rapid Creek, Julie believes this victim will receive the attention others were denied. Then she learns Kevin has been hired, mysteriously, to find out where the murdered girl spent her last few days. Julie finds herself drawn into the case against her better judgment, and discovers not only the ugly reality of the young girl’s tragic life and brutal death, but ties to her and Kevin’s past that she is increasingly reluctant to revisit.  (Description from

Book #2 - Hallowed Ground

2007 nomination for a Shamus Award for Best Paperback Original, a Daphne du Maurier Award and won the 2007 WILLA Cather Literary Award for Best Original Softcover Fiction

Grisly murders are rocking the small county of Bear Butte where Julie Collins has spent the last few months learning the PI biz without the guidance of her best friend and business partner, Kevin Wells. Enter dangerous, charismatic entrepreneur Tony Martinez, who convinces Julie to take a case involving a missing five-year-old Native American girl, the innocent pawn in her parents’ child custody dispute. Although skeptical about Martinez’ motives in hiring her and confused by her strange attraction to him, Julie nevertheless sees the opportunity to hone her investigative skills outside her office.

But something about the case doesn’t ring true. The girl’s father is foreman on the controversial new Indian casino under construction at the base of the sacred Mato Paha, and the girl’s mother is secretly working for a rival casino rumored to have ties to an east coast crime family. Local ranchers—including her father—a Lakota Holy group, and casino owners from nearby Deadwood are determined to stop the gaming facility from opening.

With the body count rising, the odds are stacked against Julie to discover the truth behind these hidden agendas before the murderer buries it forever. And when Julie unwittingly attracts the attention of the killer, she realizes no place is safe . . . not even hallowed ground.   (Description from

Book #3 - Shallow Ground

Nominated for a 2008 High Plains Book Award, a Daphne du Maurier Award and was a finalist for the 2008 WILLA Cather Literary Award

Surveillance on an insurance fraud case in Bear Butte County unfolds tragically for PI Julie Collins and her partner, Kevin Wells. The reappearance of a mysterious hole—cause of the fatal accident—brings about the landowner’s unsettling confession; bones were recently uncovered on that remote ridge. Fearing repercussions from their illegal off-season hunting, the hunters reburied the remains and kept quiet.

Now the hole is back, but the bones have vanished.

Were the bones part of an ancient Indian burial ground? Connected to the unsolved disappearance of a Native American woman? The overworked, understaffed sheriff asks for Julie’s help.

But the case opens old wounds, and she finds herself at odds with the Standing Elk family, discovering they withheld information from her in the months before Ben’s death. And Julie’s relationship with Tony Martinez hits a rough spot when she agrees to go undercover in his strip club.

On the wrong side of tribal politics, family disputes, and employee rivalries, Julie continues to dig for answers . . . while the personal stakes climb. In a brutal fight for her life, Julie finally comes face to face with her brother’s killer . . . and realizes not all deceptions run deep.  (Description from

Book #3 - Snow Blind

Won the 2009 Shamus Award, from the Private Eye Writers of America, for Best Paperback
The frigid winter months are mighty slow in the PI biz for Julie Collins and her partner, Kevin Wells — until the duo is hired by a young woman to investigate problems at her grandfather’s assisted living facility, where they encounter lax security, unqualified healthcare personnel and a shady senior volunteer organization.

Julie barely has time to delve deeper into the puzzling case before she reluctantly finds herself in an isolated cattle shelter on the Collins ranch with her father during a raging blizzard and no way to escape him or her bitter memories.

A missing hired ranch hand who is found dead only complicates matters further. In trying to uncover the truth about the man’s death, Julie wrestles with issues that make her question old wounds and her new family loyalties.

Kevin’s reckless involvement with their new client tests the bounds of professionalism, and Julie’s relationship with Tony Martinez is strained, as he deals with power struggles within the Hombres organization, putting them both in danger.

As the bodies and the snow pile up, Julie seems at odds with everyone, leaving her to wonder if she’s being blinded to the cold, hard truths in her life by love…or by hate.  (Description from

My review:
Lori Armstrong is a good writer, and she knows how to build suspense. After reading the first book in this series (which I received as a Free Friday ebook, I had to go out and get the rest of the series. What I liked the best about the series is the very flawed main character, Julie, and her interactions with the people in her life. This girl is really screwed up and she muddles through her relationships with a tough-girl attitude. The author does a good job of maintaining the relationships throughout the series and building on the characters so that I felt like I was getting to know them in great detail. The only negative I have for this series is that there is a lot (I mean a lot) of drinking, smoking, sexual situations and cussing. For me, this detracted from the overall enjoyment of the series. I hate when I read a book that I would hesitate to recommend to others because of the language or situations in the book. While I understand why the author utilized these things in the book (did I mention the main character is one messed up tough girl?) I hated that the tough girl attitude had to be portrayed with so much in-your-face vice. Overall, this series had great suspense and great character development. Any author that can write well enough to make you want to read more about their characters is a great author and I think Lori Armstrong is one worth following.

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