I love romantic suspense, so, naturally, Stacey Abrams, aka Selena Montgomery, has been on my TBR for a long time. I was excited to see she revisited some of her previously released romance novels (2004 in this book’s case), made a few edits, added a lovely author’s note, and republished for a modern audience.
This book is not for the faint of heart. I went into this book relatively blind and was immediately sucked in by a brutally violent prologue and chapter one. The violence is on-page and, in my opinion, occasionally gratuitous. Trigger warnings include – abuse of a minor, SA, and graphic violence.
Let’s start with what worked. Ms. Montgomery can WRITE. Her prose was beautiful. I loved her descriptions of New Orleans – I often felt like I was walking the streets with our hero and heroine. She has a way of creating atmosphere and ambiance without dipping into the maudlin. I flew through this audiobook with ease, which rarely happens to me, and I have to credit the writing and narration.
The suspense plot was terrifying and, as I mentioned, extremely graphic, but the pacing was perfect. The clues slowly came together, and I was never sure when the killer would strike next. I loved that as soon as a question came to my mind about why the killer did x, y, or z, it was answered within the following few chapters. I felt in tune with the author and characters, which is how you want to feel in a romantic thriller.
I think where the book went a little sideways for me was the characters. In many ways, this book is still a product of its time, 2004. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love romances from that era, so the hero’s alpha-hole tendencies actually endeared me to him. But I could see places where the author tried to iron out a few of his overbearing edges and not others, which made his characterization feel uneven. One minute he was the nicest, most laid-back guy around; the next minute, he was a pushy, overbearing reporter – not that he couldn’t be both, but the way his moods changed, especially around the heroine, was jarring.
Our heroine is absolutely the main character in this book, everything is happening to her and because of her. I really enjoyed the rigidly contained enigma of a woman she was at the beginning, but again, it felt like she was a completely different character around the hero. Additionally, she is SO traumatized and was so abused, I just had a hard time believing in the romance all the way around. There was also an extremely healthy dose of insta-love on both sides, and while I usually enjoy that trope, there was literally no reason the hero should have noticed the heroine, nevertheless becoming obsessed with her right off the bat. I wish the hero’s sister had been more of a bridge than the instant connection.
Overall, this book was highly entertaining. It was a wild ride, and although I guessed who the villain was relatively early on, I still enjoyed the story and look forward to reading many more of Montgomery’s books in the future.
**I received a free copy of this audiobook in order to provide an honest review**