Cover Image: Stroke of Luck

Stroke of Luck

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

Great storyline and character development made this book a hot and enjoyable read! I could not put it down it was that good!
Was this review helpful?
B. J. Daniels’ STROKE OF LUCK is the first book in the STERLING’S MONTANA series, and I’m looking forward to reading more of this series. Although the story is choppy at times, it’s a whodunit with many murders that kept me guessing, even with the small cast of characters.

Will and his brothers inherited the guest ranch and cattle ranch after their father died.  Will has taken on the responsibility for the guest ranch, but nothing is going right so far.  An old family friend wants to have a retreat there for some of his employees for bonding purposes. It’s before the season normally begins (due to the changeable weather), but since it’s for Big Jack, who was a friend of his father’s, Will gives the okay. Things go downhill fast. When Will needs a temporary cook, he hires Poppy, who had a crush on him when they were younger. She moved away, and though twenty years have passed, neither has forgotten the other. 

There are twists and turns to the story along with some major surprises and a lot of descriptions of the ranch and the interactions between the guests. Undercurrents of Poppy and Will’s attractions are throughout the book, but the couple never seems to be on the same page. 

As things come to a head, we’re kept on our toes with all the crimes being committed.  With the major snowstorm that hits, the ranch is cut off from everyone, and the town and suspense grow more dire. There’s a lot of action and danger as we figure out who’s behind everything. As the motives are revealed, things click into place. There is ultimately a happily ever after, and it was nicely tied up in the epilogue. At the end of the book there are some dessert recipes as well as an excerpt from the next book in the series, LUCK OF THE DRAW.  I look forward to reading it.

B. J. Daniels is an author whose books I’ve enjoyed, but I couldn’t connect to STROKE OF LUCKY as well as I’d hoped.

I rated the book 3.5 stars but rounded to 4 on this site and others.
Was this review helpful?
I really struggled with whether or not I should give this book two stars or three. Ultimately I went with three because I genuinely liked the characters.

My biggest issue with this book is that the romance of this romantic suspense novel felt like it was between two side characters. The book didn't really feel like it was about them. It started off good, but as soon as Poppy gets to the ranch, the book becomes about a bunch of other people. On top of that, they were hardly ever together in the book so I had trouble with them falling in love under those circumstances. (Yes, I understand they had previous history when they were pre-teen/teenagers.)
Was this review helpful?
I am a member of the American Library Association Reading List Award Committee. This title was suggested for the 2020 list. It was not nominated for the award. The complete list of winners and shortlisted titles is at 
Was this review helpful?
This was my very first novel by B.J. Daniels. The story was fun and I enjoyed the plot. Really enjoyed the ranch setting and the western feel. Love me a good book about being stranded (blizzard). This book is also an adult romantic suspense novel. All in all, it wasn't a bad read. The "suspense" was interesting. Really enjoyed the story line.

The characters could use just a little more work. The story is told from a few different perspectives. Poppy's character wasn't super defined. Would like to know more of her background, but she was a key player in the novel. Really liked Will's character. Wish I knew just a little bit more about his background.

The romance was lacking just a bit, but it was still overall a good one sit read. Would read something from B.J. again in the future.
Was this review helpful?
Stroke of Luck by B. J. Daniels is the first book in the Sterlings of Montana series. Stroke of Luck is a second chance romance on the Sterling Ranch with some suspense and revenge. I love the story of Will and Poppy. It will keep you entranced. This is a page turner you will not be able to put down.
Was this review helpful?
Stroke of Luck is the first title in B.J. Daniels' new Sterling's Montana series, and since I've enjoyed so many of her novels, I was eager to get in at the start of a new series, but while there were parts of this novel that I really enjoyed, there were also parts that just didn't feel right to me, and for reasons I'll explain, I can only give this novel 3 stars.

Sterling's Montana centers around a remote Montana guest ranch high in the mountains, currently run by Will Sterling and a very small crew, while his brothers live and work in the cattle ranch in the valley below. The guest ranch usually doesn't open for business until May because of the weather, but Will agrees to open it in March because he's had a special request from a long-time customer, Big Jack, who owns a company which makes fly fishing vests. He wants to bring some of his employees to the ranch as a reward from the daily grind, and finally manages to talk Will into opening early for him and his staff for a 4-day retreat. But the staff is currently missing its cook, who is laid up with a broken leg, and Will scrambles to find a replacement cook to feed his guests. There is now a highly regarded catering company in the area, getting rave reviews, and he calls the owner of that business, Poppy, who, at age 12, fell in love with Will, who was 15, and Will didn't appreciate being trailed after by a 12-year-old girl with a major crush on him. On the day her family moved away, Will broke Poppy's heart, although we never learn exactly what he said to her that day, something that should have been explained in greater detail. 

Poppy is surprised to hear from Will, she's been back in town for about 6 months getting her catering business off the ground, but when she accept his job offer to cook for the four day retreat, she does so in order to put her plan in motion--to win Will's heart with her cooking, make him fall in love with her, and then break his heart the way he broke hers, 20 years earlier. I found her revenge plot rather silly, childish, and rather petty for a woman of 32. Carrying a grudge for 20 years because something a 15-year-old boy said to a 12-year-old girl seemed utterly ridiculous to this reader. 

When Big Jack and his employees, including Jack's two sons arrive at the ranch, none of them seem particularly happy to be there. They are rude, unpleasant, disgruntled, and put out by the fact that there is no cell phone service, no wifi, and no television at the ranch. We also don't get enough background on any of them to let us in on why they can't seem to get along with each for more than 5 minutes. Big Jack's sons question his motives and both think he's running the company into bankruptcy. While the guests all love Poppy's cooking, they can't seem to maintain any sort of civility towards one another, and you know that trouble is brewing, especially with words of doom coming from the quirky ranch housekeeper, Dorothea, who's busy casting spells, and smudging with sage, to ward off evil, and it's Dorothea who instinctively knew what Poppy planned to do to Will. It also doesn't help that there are some rather strange interactions among the guests.

What was unexpected in this novel was the murder of Big Jack. Dorothea found his dead body in the barn--and there are certainly more than enough suspects at the ranch. To make matters worse, a sudden blizzard hits the area, stranding the staff and guests, the land line phone at the ranch goes dead, and there is no way to call the sheriff or get help, and things get even worse when there's a second murder. At this point the plot reminded me of Agatha Christie's novel, Murder on the Orient Express, and as murder mysteries go, this was a good one, and it kept me guessing until Ms. Daniels finally gave us the solution to this whodunit.

While I liked Will Sterling a great deal, I never really warmed up to Poppy. I thought her revenge plot was silly, and all Will seemed to care or talk about was her cooking skills and how pretty she was--not much to build a romance around. So, this novel worked far better for me as a mystery/suspense novel than it did as a romance. Most of what romance there is in this novel happens in the epilogue with the expected HEA ending, which was too little, too late, in this reader's opinion.

This isn't a bad read, all in all, it does contain a very puzzling and well written mystery, but having read a number of Ms. Daniels other novels, this is simply not as cohesive or believable as the others I've read by her. I liked it, it kept me entertained, but it certainly wasn't as emotionally satisfying as some of her earlier novels. 

I voluntarily read an advance reader copy of this novel. The opinions expressed are my own.
Was this review helpful?
This was my first book by B.J. Daniels and having read quite a few cowboy romances recently I was looking forward to reading this one - but unfortunately this one did not hit the spot for me, I expected more of a romance but what I got was more of a mystery / who-dun-it plot.

This just wasn't for me unfortunately, I couldn't connect with the characters or undertand what their beef was with each other really. Will and Poppy hadn't seen each other for 20 yrs - 12yr old Poppy had fallen for 15yr old Will, got hurt and moved away. Will hire's Poppy as a stand in cook at his lodge and Poppy plans on excating revenge by making him fall for her via her cooking? Throw in a strange company group on holiday where not everything is at is seems and then there is a murder - sorry just did nothing for me, which hardly ever happens.

Still you should read it for yourself if this is what you like, it just wasn't what I was expecting at all.
Was this review helpful?
Here again is another good book by B. J. Daniels.  The series is good as usual. She is always consistent with the quality of her stories.
Was this review helpful?
In B.J. Daniels's Stroke of Luck, another installment in the Sterling's Montana romantic suspense series, this would have you at the edge of your seat and buckle up for a thrill ride. When Poppy Carmichael received a call from Will Sterling to help  temporary cater and cook at his guest ranch, she accepted and gave up with a plan. As a little girl, she had a big time crush on Will, who later broke her heart. Now years later, she runs a successful catering company and plans to put a spell over him to win his heart with his cooking. As for Will, he runs his late father's ranch and had a group of guests to join this retreat during the winter. And for the next couple of days, it stirred up nothing but trouble. While Poppy caters at Will's ranch some delicious delightful food, she wowed everyone with her meals and put her plan into motion. Will always had feelings for Poppy and thought he had everything under control... except for his own feelings. But during a storm when they're trapped in the ranch, two of the guests were murdered by one of their own people. And it's up to Poppy and Will to figure it out who the culprit or culprits were and stopped them in the tracks while they put their feelings for each other on hold. After the storm calmed down, they can focus on each other and plan a future.
Was this review helpful?
Will Sterling is taking over the ranch from his father and he has agreed to a group of guest early in the season. After he agrees and sends off the contract the cook breaks his leg. Scrambling for a replacement he hears about Poppy Carmichael and her food truck and also catering. After calling she agrees. Will is hoping that Poppy is not mad after these past twenty years about the things he told her when she was 12 and told him that she loved him. He being 15 did not let her down very easy at all. Now she feels she can be able to get back at him after all of these years. Well, it does not go to her plans. First, neither look like they did and second they find out that they are still friends. When a blizzard hits the ranch with all of the guests it puts them into working together, then some of the guests are being killed. So along with a regular romance story, you also get a murder mystery with this story. Overall a good book.
Was this review helpful?
I would honestly hesitate to call this book a romance novel. It was more like a classic “whodunit” mystery with a second chance romance subplot. I like mysteries and some thrillers. But when I pick up a romantic suspense novel, I always expect the romance to come before the suspense, or at least be intertwined in an exciting way. STROKE OF LUCK’s plot revolves around a group of employees going to a remote ranch for a retreat. While there, company mysteries start surfacing and the group realizes there is a murderer in their mix. Also, Poppy, a caterer, is filling in as a cook at at the ranch, which happens to be owned by her old crush.

Part of the reason I had a hard time connecting with the storyline was the lack of correlation between Poppy and Will and the mystery/murder plot. The employees had their own dramas between them and Poppy and Will were on the peripheries thinking about each other at weird times. The two stars were the murder plot, which is the only thing that kept me from DNFing this book. I wanted to know what crazy things were happening with the company employees.

Besides being annoyed about the lack of romance, to be honest, I wasn’t too impressed with what little romance there was. Poppy is holding a 20+ YEAR grudge. Yes. A supposedly mature woman in her thirties is still mad about a crush she had when was 12 and the hero was 15. Please, spare me. I am going to need something more than that to rationalize why a woman would risk her burgeoning catering company for revenge.

The reasons behind the romantic plot were absurd and the actual romance was ridiculous. Poppy thinks about “seducing” Will with her supposed cooking magic all the time, and it got weird. It seemed like Poppy was using her cooking to make up for a lack of personality, and I was not impressed.

Overall, this book had a strong mystery plot which didn’t make up for a shoddy romance.

**I received an ARC of this book in order to provide an honest review**
Was this review helpful?
Stroke of Luck was a delightfully entertaining tale of romantic suspense that will keep you on the edge of your seat.  Will had never planned on seeing Poppy again after how they left things as teenagers and when he is desperate for a cook for his ranch, Poppy agrees to help him out for the four days.  He couldn’t believe that Poppy had grown into a beautiful, strong and fiercely independent woman that he couldn’t keep his eyes off of and Poppy had a plan to finally win Will’s heart after all these years.  The chemistry between these two characters was absolutely amazing and it was fun to watch Will try to fight his feelings for Poppy over the course of the story.

I love Ms. Daniels books because they are filled with romance and spine-tingling suspense and Stroke of Luck was a delicious story to read.  I had fun trying to figure out the mystery with the rest of the characters and I wanted to try Poppy’s recipes because they sounded absolutely scrumptious.  Great story and I can’t wait to read what is next from Ms. Daniels
Was this review helpful?
I have read a few books by this author and loved them. I love me some cowboys and usually that is enough to get my attention. This one however just didn't have it for me like the other books I have read from this author.
While the plot was unique and intriguing and kept me on my toes, I just couldn't find a the connection with the characters that I hope for. 
While this one wasn't my favorite, I will say that the suspense in this one is what kept me turning the pages,
Was this review helpful?
5 star

I was pulled right into this story. The story has laughs, pain, secrets, suspense, and heartbreak. 

This is Poppy and Will’s story. Will is having trouble his ranch is full of guests and there is a blizzard coming. Help needs all the help he can get. He gets it in the form of his childhood friend Poppy. He is happy for her help, but he also is drawn to her in a way he was not before. Just when they are getting the guest together danger lurks in the shadows can they solve the danger and keep the guest calm? Or will one of the gests make sure that does not happen? The closer these two grow together the more danger comes for them. Can they plan a future or will a killer make sure one of them does not have a future? 

I loved these characters and the side characters. I felt I could connect with the characters and the story was a great read. 

I highly recommend this book.
Was this review helpful?
Will Sterling should be worried that things aren't running smoothly on the ranch since it's said that bad luck comes in threes. So, when the ranch cook breaks a leg, Will has to hire someone and that person is Poppy Carmichael; his childhood friend whose heart he broke. However, when things go from bad to dangerous, can Will keep Poppy safe or will he lose her to a killer that will do anything to prevent being arrested?

Although I felt the POV of one of the secondary characters, Lamar, was in the story a tad too much and took away a little of the spotlight off the hero and heroine and their growing relationship, I really enjoyed this story. It was absolutely engaging because of the main characters and the history that is between them; and fast-paced because of the everything that's happening on the ranch when it comes to someone determined to stop anyone that could reveal their crimes. However, it was from the moment the hero and heroine come face-to-face for the first time where this story really gets interesting, as the heroine is determined to shake things up for the hero. Will the plan she has succeed?

As for the dialogue, it was intense and entertaining due to the main characters back stories and the danger the hero, heroine and the secondary characters face. Will the hero be able to keep everyone he cares about safe? Moreover, I really liked both the main characters. They're relatable, likeable and have a wonderful growing relationship that had me hoping that everything would work out for the best for the pair, even though the heroine had plans to do exactly what the hero did to her in the past that left her heartbroken. 

With the heroine, she's sassy and I loved how determined she is in her plan to get back at Will for hurting her years ago, but finds herself falling in love with him all over again. I also liked how resilient and courageous she is when it comes to the danger she faces. Will she and Will be all right if they happen to come face-to-face with a killer determined to stop anyone that could derail everything they've done? While the hero, he's determined to make things on the ranch work but it doesn't seem possible with everything that is happening with first his cook being injured, then hiring Poppy who is getting under his skin, and then with the danger to his, Poppy and the ranch guests lives. Will it be possible for Will to be able to get to the bottom of who is killing the ranch guests?

Overall, BJ Daniels has delivered a really good read in this book where the chemistry between this couple was strong; the romance was well worth the wait; and the ending had me worried for everyone's safety, but finally had me loving how things work out for Poppy and Will. No way can he let her get away this time. I would recommend Stroke of Luck by BJ Daniels, if you enjoy romantic suspense, the second chance romance trope or books by authors Lara Adrian, Laura Griffin, Cristin Harber and Vicki Tharp.
Was this review helpful?
~~Reviewed by Monique~~

Will Sterling was asked by Big Jack Hanson, a friend of Will’s late father’s, to let him use the Sterling Montana Guest Ranch for a retreat in the off-season. Will was reluctant, fearing an unexpected snowstorm, and with his cook sidelined with a broken leg, it was less than ideal. Will’s brother Garrett suggests he ask Poppy Carmichael, who owns a catering business. Given what had happened when they last saw each other, Will is not exactly enthused but he needs a cook. It’s only four days after all. From the moment the guests arrive, the tension that surrounds Big Jack Hanson and his entourage could be cut with a knife. Dorothea, the Ranch’s superstitious housekeeper, has a feeling that something bad is going to happen.

The first chapter gave me the impression of stepping into a cowboy Agatha Christie mystery; unfortunately, it went downhill from there. The slow pace, the repetitions, exposition, and stating the obvious failed to capture my attention. I felt indifferent as to what happened to whom because I didn’t feel invested in what was going on. The suspense part improved somewhat after the 75% mark, for a little while. My biggest issue though was with the romance, which might not bother most readers. Will and Poppy hadn’t seen each other in twenty years. At twelve years old, Poppy was wildly in love with the then fifteen-year-old Will. She had planned to use those four days to exact revenge on Will, for a peccadillo. Why would someone carry a torch for twenty years over a childhood crush? Had Poppy pined after Will for twenty years? I felt the timeline was all wrong: if only ten years had passed, it would have been more believable, particularly since Poppy has no backstory to speak of. So after twenty years, he saw her, he fell in lust with her looks then her cooking. She crushed even more on the thirty-five-year-old Will; for the little that was mentioned, their youthful friendship didn’t come across as anything special. I thought she seemed rather pathetic, and he didn’t fare much better. Dorothea, however, is marvellous, as are Lamar and Mick Hanson – Big Jack’s sons – those are well-defined characters. Because of all the food and the three recipes at the end, STROKE OF LUCK reminded me more of a cozy mystery than what I expect from a B.J. Daniels romantic suspense. I’m not sure what happened with this book.

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced reader copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Was this review helpful?
This is a romantic suspense with a blizzard isolating the guests and staff at the Sterling Ranch with a killer amongst them . . . . and a temporary chef who may be vengeful after being scorned by the ranch owner when she was twelve and he was fifteen! I requested and was given a copy of this book, via NetGalley. This is my honest review of the book after choosing to read it. 

Will Sterling endeavours to ensure his first set of guests have a stay they'll never forget. However, he hadn't anticipated his cook being replaced by Poppy Carmichael, the girl whose heart he'd broken when only a teenager, or that the guests all seem to have problems relating to each other, secrets, antagonisms and more despite all being present on the orders of their mutual boss. When a blizzard traps them all together and someone is murdered, there's no escape, no help and danger all around. Add into all of that the attraction building between Will and Poppy and you've got a great read. Can they survive? Can they discover the motivation for the murder and identify the perpetrator before anyone else is killed? Will Poppy forgive Will and give them both a second chance at romance?

The plot has family drama, red herrings, deception, danger and steamy romance in an action packed thriller, with plenty of twists and turns as well as surprises to keep you guessing. I'm definitely looking forward to reading more in this series in future!
Was this review helpful?
This was my first B.J. Daniels book and let me tell you, I quite enjoyed it.

Stroke of Luck is a story that took me by surprise. I really didn't expect how suspenseful this book was going to be, and I really enjoyed that.

The book starts out with Will trying to come to terms with being in charge of the ranch after his father's death. Will is struggling with what his father wanted for the ranch, but also with what he knows he should change around. I will say that I was amused by how he couldn't figure out in the beginning what Poppy's intentions were. He was kind of freaking out in the beginning, and I thought that was charming in a way.

Poppy was a mystery to me. She was holding on to her young love too hard, and she seemed intent on making Will pay for something that happened 20 years prior, when she was twelve and he was fifteen. I found it hard to connect with her, because of how tightly she held on to that memory and that heartbreak. While I know how important first loves are in someone's life, I felt that Poppy was too intent on keeping that memory fresh in her mind, and also on letting Will know that she remembers it all, even after all those years. I did love that she was a cook. I loved how she speaks of what made her want to become a cook, her memories of Will's mother and cooking with her. I liked that side of her.

I was very intrigued by Big Jack and his employees, the group of guests staying at the ranch. I was curious about their dynamics, who was hiding what, and the author made a good job at playing with that aspect. There were a bunch of surprises along the way that I didn't see coming, and I enjoyed those. The pacing was a little too slow for my liking, but I still enjoyed the book.

All in all, I enjoyed reading this book and I'm going to keep my eye out for when the next book in the series comes out
Was this review helpful?
Will is opening up his families guest ranches a bit early when a series of accidents and a blizzard heads his way. To make things even more complicated his cook broke his leg and ends up getting a childhood friend hired as his temporary cooks, turns out shes grown into a stunner and he might end up with his heart it knots over her. To top things off a death occurs and the blizzard got them trapped with the killer.

Such a great book I really enjoyed it. I enjoyed getting to know the characters and seeing the reasoning behind Poppy was gonna stick around after having her heart broken by Will. While reading its clear the guests of the ranch are a bit iffy and got the Will and the others wondering whats up because clearly there was tension going on with the employees. I loved watching the mystery unfold, and wondering who was going to die and wondering why they are being killed off in the first place. Oh and of course I was curious who was behind everything. I enjoyed getting to see the quirks of one of the characters. Another thing I really loved getting to see was that romance that was unfolding with Will and Poppy.  Overall pretty great book I really enjoyed it.
Was this review helpful?