romantic suspense

Shattered Blue

Shattered Blue
Published: March 12, 2013
Shane MacKinnon thought she could escape her dark past by running away, changing her name. She thought the monster of her childhood was dead. She was wrong… Hounded by scandal and haunted by a shameful secret, Shannon Malone fled Manhattan for the mountains of New Mexico, a new name and a new life. Five years later, her new neighbor, wealthy architect Matthew Brennan, is teaching her the meaning of sexual healing. But when her dark past rises from the shadows and threatens to shatter her new life, Shane must find the courage to face her worst fear, or face death.

Reviewed 

4 Stars

Shattered Blue is a classic romantic suspense story, and if you like that combination of genres, then you’ll probably like this because it has all the necessary elements – an attractive woman, a hot guy and a psychopathic would-be rapist killer. Just when said hot guy and attractive woman get together, the psychopath enters and threatens to rip their happiness from beneath them.

The tension builds through memories, dreams, clever foreshadowing and a series of suspicious events that culminate in a life threatening situation for both lovers. The pacing is good, it keeps you reading but still allows time for character development, and the plot, though nothing new, is solid.

The characters are well-drawn and complex. Shane is an artist with a history she is hiding from, and Matt is an architect in the process of selling his business to his hard nosed ex-wife. Despite many reasons not to, they fall in love pretty much instantaneously. It surprises them both, but they’re old enough to know not to fight it. Cynical reviewers may find this a little twee, but it’s perfect for the genre. I got to know Shane very quickly, fell in love with Matt before she did and cared about them both enough to really not want the bad guy to screw it all up, but fiction requires drama and that’s what we got. I won’t tell you what happened in the end, except to say that I thought it well done. Aspects of it were somewhat predictable, but that’s a hallmark of the romance genre, so it’s not a problem as far as I’m concerned.

The book has a couple of underlying themes worth noting: the affect of childhood abuse on adults and the healing power of love. Love as healing is a theme that always leaves you warm and fuzzy, even without the steamy sex, and in this case it balances the evil very nicely.

4 stars.

INCEPTIO

Inceptio
Publisher:
Published: March 1, 2013
Author's Twitter: @alison_morton
York, present day, alternate timeline. Karen Brown, angry and frightened after surviving a kidnap attempt, has a harsh choice – being eliminated by government enforcer Jeffery Renschman or fleeing to mysterious Roma Nova, her dead mother’s homeland in Europe. Founded sixteen centuries ago by Roman exiles and ruled by women, Roma Nova gives Karen safety, at a price, and a ready-made family in a strange culture she often struggles with. Just as she’s finding her feet, a shocking discovery about her new lover, special forces officer Conrad Tellus, isolates her. And the enforcer, Renschman, is stalking her in her new home and nearly kills her. Recovering, she is desperate to find out why this Renschman is hunting her so viciously. Unable to rely on anybody else, she undergoes intensive training, develops fighting skills and becomes an undercover cop. But crazy with bitterness at his past failures, Renschman sets a trap for her, knowing she has no choice but to spring it… “Grips like a vice – a writer to watch out for.” – Adrian Magson author of the Harry Tate spy thrillers. “Breathtaking action, suspense, political intrigue… Inceptio is a tour de force!” – Russell Whitfield, author of Gladiatrix and Roma Victrix

Reviewed 

4 Stars

Inceptio by Alison Morton take place on an alternate earth where the political boundaries are different, and Europe boasts an extra country created by those who escaped the persecution of pagans when the Roman Empire became Christian. It’s a matriarchal society and the people speak Latin, but other than that it could be any small European country.

The story begins in the Eastern United States when Karen Brown finds herself in the sights of a man who wants to kill her. Why? She isn’t exactly sure, but it has something to do with her receiving an inheritance on her next birthday and some political concerns about her taking over the family business. She discovers that the freedom and safety she took for granted in the EUS is a lie and ends up being rescued by her mother’s family, who whisk her away to this little European country where she starts a new life. The killer finds a way to follow her and, despite repeatedly being foiled, like all the best bad guys, he just keeps on coming back.

The story is basically one of a woman who, after a close escape from a traumatic interaction with a killer, vows never to be a victim again, and she does what is required to make that a reality. Karen’s life goes through many different phases so much so that the second half of the book bears little resemblance to the first, but a common thread runs through it all, a tenacious killer and a love interest.

Apart from the killer, the characters are reasonably well-drawn, but Karen’s transformation from a helpless victim into a highly-skilled special ops cop who succeeds at everything she does is too quick to be entirely believable for this reviewer, and the story stretches believability in other ways as well: Why didn’t grandmother contact Karen earlier? Why didn’t the EUS try a more subtle approach with Karen to start with? The questions around the killer’s motives are answered at the end of the book, and had more depth been given to his personality throughout the story, we might have felt some sympathy for him and found his scenes more solid.

It’s an interesting story and reads well, despite the plot issues. If you’re looking for a story of self-empowerment, then you’ll likely enjoy it. I’d be interested to read the sequel.

And I love the cover.

It just scrapes into the 4 star bracket.