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Romantic thriller

Review: Hideaway Cover: A Windfall Island Novel by Anna Sullivan

windfallWhen I was asked by Hachette Book Group to review Anna Sullivan’s Hideaway Cove: A Windfall Island Novel, I wanted to do it for a couple of reasons. First, the whole Hachette v. Amazon thing I find to be incredibly irritating as Amazon puffs itself up and tries to take over control of ideas, attempting to place a stranglehold on e-book distribution. That really ticks me off, and Hachette gets my support for the stand they are taking against the huge gorilla in the room that Amazon has turned into.

The second, of course, is the fact that the concept of the book was interesting, as a young single mother, Jessica Randal, attempts to save her son Benjamin, Benji for short, from the attacks that have occurred against the citizens of Windfall Island which leave her son in grave danger. Of course, as this is mostly a romance, there is the tall, handsome stranger, Holden “Hold” Abbot, who is in town working on a genealogy project that could answer all the questions, as well as putting Benji and his mother in grave danger.

I liked that there was a sharp edge of suspense in the book, which brings it up above the common and garden ‘met the guy, bang the guy, marry the guy’ trope. Both Hold and Jessi have their trust issues, falling over each other in their attempt to protect themselves from any more emotional damage. And of course, Jessi is determined to protect her son – sometimes to a fault. As the book moves further along, the action and aforementioned suspense ratchet up to a razor’s edge, keeping me reading to the end.

The opposite side of the coin is that this is, as I figured out by the end of the first chapter, the second in a new series for Anna Sullivan, which caused me to be lost for, literally, the whole first half of the book. The slanting references to happenings in the past are utilized with no clarification, which was massively confusing and irritating as well. There are a lot of series out there that you can pick up at any point and get a concise update on what is going on, from the view of the previous book(s), in such a manner as to bring you into the ‘loop’ of the story without rehashing the whole series. This book doesn’t give you any guidelines. Instead, we are apparently supposed to have read the first book in order to understand what is going on in this one. That fact, to be honest, would have kept me from finishing the book once I had gotten into the third chapter and still couldn’t figure out what was going on. However, as this was a requested read, I stuck it out, though I admit to skimming through a major portion of the book. It simply couldn’t hold my attention because I was so lost. Who was Eugenie, why was someone trying to kill any great grandchildren she may or may not have still living, or was it grandchildren of this Eugenie or just what the heck was going on anyway? The prolog gave you a happening in 1931 or so that I suppose was supposed to give you all the clues you needed, but the fact that there was no modern day clarification meant the questions were annoying and kept me from enjoying the book as much as I could have.

Overall, if you are willing to purchase the previous book, Temptation Bay, you will be much better equipped to pick up this volume of the series and actually enjoy it from the beginning. The blurb for the book is rather disingenuous as well, as the book is much more about Jessica and her relationship with her son and the lengths she will go to in order to protect him rather than simply about the ‘love interest’ Holden getting what he wants. The HEA is there, of course, and I suppose the blurb will pull in “strictly romance” readers, but if you are fond of a suspense with a strong thread of romance versus the opposite, this may be a series you will want to give a read. From the first book, of course.

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I received this book from the Forever (Grand Central Publishing) arm of Hachette Books. All opinions are my own and are not based on my receipt of the book from the publishers.

Review: Saving Grace (Serve and Protect Series) Book 2 – Norah Wilson

 

 

saving graceSaving Grace was a surprise to me. When I have read other ‘romantic thrillers’ I have usually found them not so much about the thriller as the romance, with sometimes sketchy effect. This little novel was different. It did do the romance, but it was heavy on the thriller, which suits my particular tastes.

What I felt was a great deal of respect for the author. Grace and Ray have been married for nearly five years. But what they don’t know about each other could fill volumes. In the end, while the thriller and romance writing was very good, what really impressed me is how well Norah explored the manner in which people can live together, love one another, and yet know next to nothing about who each person truly is.

While Grace and Ray are on the run, as well described in other reviews, what I found the most interesting about her writing is how she took two people and opened them up to the reader, telling a story of how we can build a shadow life for ourselves, living within a mythical self-portrait – and how that shadow life can nearly destroy both you and the people you love. Another thing I liked very much about the story, in this same vein, is the growth of Grace as a person as she began to walk out of that shadow and find herself as a person. Very cool.

In the long run, Grace saved Ray as much as he saved her. Nice!

The amnesia portion of the book is well researched and realistic, unlike other books that plunge into the murky waters of the far-from-common total amnesia, Norah handles the situation with an extremely deft hand.

Overall, this book was a very nice way to fill a few hours. The characters are highly believable, the story line interesting and not overdone. If you like romances, light thrillers, and books that allow you to see a great deal of personal development in the characters, you can’t go wrong with “Saving Grace.”

Recommended.

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