**advance reader copy received via NetGalley**
This was my first Lindsay Cross read, and my first Men of Mercy book. As a southern girl from Mississippi, I was pretty excited about the setting and the personalities involved. A lot of the worldbuilding for this book reminded me of the television series Justified, which I love. Except in Justified the old lady (Mags) who ran the area was ruthless and feared, but not unkempt or repulsive necessarily. There was a lot to dislike about the villains in this tale; personal hygiene was a factor. The first third of the story seemed to focus almost entirely on the male and female lead, but I wanted to know more. I expect a good deal of focus on the lead characters, but I need the world moving around them as well, and detail and depth within the story. Some of that could have been missing because I have not read the first two books in the series. The hero was pushy (which you expect to some degree with alpha males), and the heroine was a little more forgiving than us rural ladies tend to be, but I was happy with the book. I felt that Sparrow was a strong female, and that is one character trait that I can appreciate. There were not very many likeable characters from rural Mississippi, which saddened me…but overall the book was a heated read and stood alone well outside the series. Cross writes passionate lovemaking scenes and toes the line of acceptable roughness in this third book in her Men of Mercy series.