I cut my reading teeth on mystery novels, so it’s not surprising that when romantic suspense novels don’t work for me, it’s usually because I felt the author dropped the ball in the suspense department. Happily, this is not the case with Kerry Connor’s latest. A compelling suspense thread and a nice romance? Christmas came early this year!
Regina Garrett is a criminal defense attorney looking forward to her upcoming Caribbean vacation. She’s got one final meeting with a client, and then she’s outta there! Jeremy Decker was arrested for burglary, but Regina was able to get the charges dropped, and Jeremy out of jail in time for Christmas. So when he practically begs her for a meeting, she wonders what’s going on. She never finds out. Just as she’s given up on him showing up for the meeting, Regina discovers Jeremy’s lifeless body in the parking lot – with his throat cut.
Marcus Waters is the homicide detective who catches the call. Like a lot of cops, Marcus has little use for defense attorneys, but one look at Regina and sparks fly. He’s attracted to her, and doesn’t want to be. For one thing, she’s got quite a reputation among the department and for another, she’s trying to horn in on his investigation. Figuring it’s better to keep her close, Marcus allows her to help – only to quickly realize that the killer might now be gunning for her.
While I never felt that the author went into overly grisly details, the violent nature of the crime and the opening prologue succeed in hooking the reader. I was invested, and rather quickly, in who would want to harm Jeremy, and the back story of his arrest. The author keeps the suspects plentiful, twisting and turning the plot to an exciting finish that had me letting out an audible gasp.
The romance here is also quite nice. Marcus isn’t wild about defense attorneys and Regina knows that not every cop on the planet is a “good” one. However there’s no needless bickering, no jumping to conclusions, just two adults who act like…well…adults. Their attraction is immediate, mutual, and a little unwelcome, at first. As a couple, they work together nicely – both romantically and professional.
I did, however, have a few procedural bugaboos. First, the reader has to be willing to roll with a cop who allows a criminal defense attorney, one personally tied to the victim, to ride shotgun. Especially when the cop in question has a partner who never seems to do any actual partnering with him. That guy’s sole purpose in this story is to be surly and disapproving. It was like the author included a partner because she “had to” – but then dumped him to the sidelines knowing he would hinder the developing romance. Couldn’t the guy have just been on vacation and never included in the story to begin with?
That aside, the suspense works well, the romance works well, and the whole thing ends on a nicely believable note. There’s a short time frame here for the romance (a week) and the author wisely doesn’t try to shoe-horn in a marriage proposal or a heroine discovering she’s having triplets. If anything, it sells me all the more on this story. Yes, she defends accused criminals for a living and he’s a cop – but you know what? I think these two crazy kids are going to make it work.
All Regina Garrett wanted this holiday season was some R & R. What she got was mixed up in a murder investigation, and the personal protection of a very sexy homicide detective.…
Marcus Waters couldn’t help wondering just what Regina knew about the case that practically landed in her lap. But between her direct connection to the evidence he’d uncovered and the threats against her, Marcus also knew she needed his help if she was going to stay alive. Convincing her it’d be safest if he stayed on her couch, Marcus prepared for a string of sleepless nights.
As a cop, having Regina a few feet away was smart.
As a man, it was pure torture.