There’s no doubt that secrets can be fascinating and tend to make characters fascinating, as well. Nothing tantalizes like someone with something to hide. Whether it’s a heroine concealing the truth about her past, the hero not sharing his real intentions, a group of people keeping quiet about an event they’d like to forget, or even a villain hiding his misdeeds, readers are drawn in and keep the pages turning with the tease of things unknown. Yet whether the awaited “big moment” will be the revelation of the secret itself or the reaction to it from important characters, the anticipation for fans is nail-biting drama, and the results are likely to be equally satisfying. On a slightly different note, writers of linked books have recently been publishing and in some cases republishing collections of shorter works that fill gaps and provide more information (and perhaps reveal secrets?) about their characters. Suzanne Brockmann’s Headed for Troubleand Julia Quinn’s The Bridgertons: Happily Ever After are two examples.
Martin, Kat. Against the Edge. Mira: Harlequin. (Raines of Wind Canyon, Bk. 8). May 2013. c.368p. ISBN 9780778314431. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9781460311875. ROMANTIC SUSPENSE
PI Ben Slocum, a former Navy SEAL, is stunned to learn not only that he has a nine-year-old son, Sam, but that Sam has gone missing from his foster home and may have been kidnapped. It turns out that the boy is in the hands of a vicious, unpredictable child abductor. As Ben and social worker Claire Chastain try to run them to ground, the action, violence, and passion spike to red-hot levels as the tension and danger fly off the charts. VERDICT With strong, well-matched protagonists; a brave, vulnerable little boy; despicable villains; and breathtaking ardor, this suspenseful, emotion-packed page-turner sweeps its characters across the Southwest and into a survivalist camp in the murky Louisiana swamps and doesn’t let up until the end. Although sprinkled with characters from the earlier series titles, this nonstop, high-stakes adventure stands on its own. Martin (Against the Odds) lives in Missoula, MT.
Lowell, Elizabeth. Dangerous Refuge. Morrow. Apr. 2013. c.384p. ISBN 9780062253606. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062132758. ROMANTIC SUSPENSE
Los Angeles homicide detective Tanner Davis returns to rustic Refuge, NV, on the eastern slopes of the Sierras, when his 86-year-old uncle Lorne is found dead on his ranch. Tanner assumes Lorne died of natural causes, but when complications regarding Lorne’s will arise and his bequest to the National Ranch Conservancy is called into question, the situation changes. Soon Tanner and conservancy rep Shaye Townsend are thrown together as they try to sort things out—and Lorne’s suspicious death is foremost on their minds. VERDICT Smart, realistic characters, a beautifully described setting, a cultural/economic issue that deserves to be highlighted, and an intriguing puzzle meld into a riveting mystery that won’t disappoint. Lowell (Death Echo) lives in the Sierra Nevadas.
Roberts, Nora. Whiskey Beach. Putnam. Apr. 2013. 484p. ISBN 9780399159893. $27.95; ebk. ISBN 9781101621219. ROMANTIC SUSPENSE
Having been wrongly suspected of his wife’s violent murder and with his law career in shreds, Eli Landon leaves his Boston life and heads for Whiskey Beach to write, sort things out, and take care of the family home, Bluff House, while his grandmother recovers from a fall. But spirited, intuitive yoga expert and housekeeper Abra Walsh is a totally unexpected flash of light in his gloom, and as they work together to unmask the true killer, they find a loving, healing relationship neither had thought possible. VERDICT With faultless plotting, flawless character development, and a remarkable ability to draw readers into her fictional world, Roberts delivers another dazzler. Sleuthily inclined readers might figure out the real killer’s identity, but it won’t detract from the impact of the story as readers will already have fallen in love with the characters and immersed themselves in the setting. Roberts (The Perfect Hope) lives in Keedysville, MD.
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The following titles are reviewed in the April 15 print issue. Visit Book Verdict for the full reviews.
Something to hide?
Fossen, Delores. The Marshal’s Hostage. Harlequin Intrigue. (Marshals of Maverick County, Bk. 1). May 2013. c.224p. ISBN 9780373696864. pap. $5.50; ebk. ISBN 9781460312575. ROMANTIC SUSPENSE
Goodman, Jo. True to the Law. Berkley Sensation: Penguin Group (USA). May 2013. c.384p. ISBN 9780425264164. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9781101606407. HISTORICAL
Johnson, Janice Kay. Where It May Lead. Harlequin Superromance. May 2013. c.304p. ISBN 9780373718481. pap. $5.75; ekb. ISBN 9781460312711. CONTEMPORARY
McMaster, Bec. Heart of Iron. Sourcebooks Casablanca. (London Steampunk, Bk. 2). May 2013. c.448p. ISBN 9781402270307. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9781460312711. PARANORMAL
Quick, Amanda. The Mystery Lady. Putnam. (Ladies of Lantern Street, Bk. 2). Apr. 2013. c.368p. ISBN 9780399159091. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9781101621172. Historical Paranormal
OUT IN THE OPEN?
Adair, Marina. Summer in Napa. Montlake Romance. (St. Helena Vineyards, Bk. 2). May 2013. c.334p. ISBN 9781611099737. pap. $12.95; ebk. ISBN 9781611092011. CONTEMPORARY
Brockmann, Suzanne. Headed for Trouble. Ballantine. (Troubleshooters). May 2013. c.368p. ISBN 9780345521255. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9780345521262. ROMANTIC SUSPENSE
Carr, Robyn. The Wanderer. Mira: Harlequin. (Thunder Point, Bk. 1). Apr. 2013. c.384p. ISBN 9780778314479. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9781460309674. CONTEMPORARY
Quinn, Julia. The Bridgertons: Happily Ever After. Avon. Apr. 2013. c.384p. ISBN 9780061233005. pap. $12.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062096531. HISTORICAL ANTHOLOGY
Shalvis, Jill. It Had To Be You. Grand Central. (Lucky Harbor, Bk. 7). May 2013. c.368p. ISBN 9781455521128. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9781455521111. CONTEMPORARY
Second Time Around
Balogh, Mary. A Counterfeit Betrothal/The Notorious Rake. Dell: Random. May 2013. c.560p. ISBN 9780440245476. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9780345538697. REGENCY
Blake, Jennifer. Clay. Severn House. (Louisiana Gentleman, Bk. 4). Apr. 2013. c.384p. ISBN 9780727882356. $28.95; ebk. ISBN 9781460305034. CONTEMPORARY
Cameron, Stella. No Stranger. Severn House. May 2013. c.256p. ISBN 9780727882431. $28.95.
Kelly, Carla. Miss Grimsley’s Oxford Career. Sweetwater: Cedar Fort. May 2013. c.352p. ISBN 9781462112104. pap. $8.99; ebk. ISBN 9781462101757. REGENCY