This one blew my sock off!
Genre: Y/A, Contemporary, Romance
No. of pages: 400
It’s been ten years since Sasha Keaton left her West Virginia hometown . . . since she escaped the twisted serial killer known as the Groom. Returning to help run her family inn means being whole again, except for one missing piece. The piece that falls into place when Sasha’s threatened—and FBI agent Cole Landis vows to protect her the way he couldn’t a decade ago.
First one woman disappears; then another, and all the while, disturbing calling cards are left for the sole survivor of the Groom’s reign of terror. Cole’s never forgiven himself for not being there when Sasha was taken, but he intends to make up for it now . . . because under the quirky sexiness Cole first fell for is a steely strength that only makes him love Sasha more.
But someone is watching. Waiting. And Sasha’s first mistake could be her last.
I wasn’t expecting the book I read. Although I didn’t know anything going into the novel, I expected it to be about some sort of abusive relationship, given the cover art and title… but it was a completely different creature. A psychopathic serial killer stalking our protagonist has re-appeared from her past. I absolutely loved it. It was such a fast read. Compelling.
I think I’ve enjoyed this the most out of all the JLA novels I’ve read to date.
I had developed two theories about who the killer was, and how it was all connected early on in the novel, and don’t mind bragging that one of those theories was spot on. However, I was kept guessing right to the last couple of chapters. Armentrout wrote this so expertly that I had no definitive idea of who it was until the reveal.
Sasha was a cool protagonist to read – she reacted to situations like a human being. It felt realistic. Though there were some moments that I felt she wasn’t being careful or paranoid enough. I like how she was battling with anxiety and PTSD, but it didn’t impact her ability to function or take over the plot. And it wasn’t a story where she was the only one who could discover all the answers, leaving the law enforcement to look like bumbling idiots. It was very organic.
Cole, the love interest from both the past and in the present wasn’t really my cup of tea. Yes he was drop dead gorgeous, patient, and kind. But he was also just a bit pushy for my liking. And horror of all horrors, he kept calling Sasha ‘babe.’ Gag me! That is the one enormous turn off for me. Additionally, he kept calling her that even after she asked him to stop… grrr! The other thing, is that he was almost like a barnacle – latched to her side, never leaving her alone. Again, possessiveness anyone? So he has good and bad points as a character, and while he was perfect for Sasha, there were too many traits that gave me the willies.
I liked the inclusion of Sasha’s mum and friends in the story, and how they were present throughout, and not just superfluous characters so that Sasha didn’t look like some kind of shut-in lonesome nerd. They were equally sassy and caring and helped give Sasha a support system and courage to reclaim her life after running away from a difficult past.
The Bed and Breakfast was a great backdrop for the novel – it was large with sufficient spooky crooks and corners, old creaky floorboard and doors. It really added to the ambience of the book. I was a little keyed up from the suspense of it all.
And speaking of keyed up – there are a few sexy scenes. They are written pretty well, and are on the right side of graphic. Though I wasn’t quite comfortable with them. But that comes down to a matter of what I like personally, and the whole not entirely liking Cole thing.
A very easy read!! The pacing was excellent, I barely put the book down and consumed it in large chunks. I must say I like JLA’s writing here where it’s not overrun by teen angst or damaged adults having wild trysts. It was a solid story, great tension, and a mystery to solve.
Highly recommend this one!
Overall feeling: Bravo!
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