I received the ARC copy of this book from Giselle of Xpresso Book Tours. Thank you, Giselle! However, please do note that the review is purely my opinion of the book. This is the first book in the authors’ Steele Shadow Investigations series. This is also my first book by this author.
About the book
The blurb on Goodreads is as below:
Secrets, lies, deceit… A former Navy SEAL turned homicide detective has met his match in this new *standalone* addition to the number #1 Bestselling Steele Shadows Series…
He found her covered in blood.
She promises she’s innocent.
The question is… Can he trust her?
Feared just as much on the streets as at a crime scene, Homicide Detective Max Jagger has dedicated his life to one thing — speaking for the dead. Everyone and everything else be damned, including his own demons. During one of the most oppressive heat waves to hit the small, southern town of Berry Springs, the former Navy SEAL is called to a scene where a real estate heiress is found standing over a dead body, holding the murder weapon. The local cops immediately dub it a slam-dunk case, but if Jagg has learned anything from his days running special ops, it’s that nothing is as it seems… including this suspect.
Despite her name, Sunny Harper is as beguiling as a fallen angel. Clever, cunning, completely unwilling to cooperate, and, perhaps his least favorite quality—mind-numbingly intoxicating. When evidence from the scene suggests an accomplice, Jagg begins to believe that Sunny is both innocent and in danger, despite the towns’ uproar to lock her up. Torn between his growing feelings for his suspect, he takes Sunny to a secluded lake house where he discovers there’s much more behind those enchanting green eyes… including secrets that could take them both under.
With his career on the line and the clock ticking, Jagg must decide if he can trust Sunny… before they both get burned.
Why I picked this book
It’s been a while I read an alpha-male oriented book. That and the very intriguing blurb!
What I liked about this book
The fact that it is well-written and held my attention for a good part despite the things I did not like (coming up in the section after this). There’re some really good lines in here, like the one quoted below:
Because something has to be responsible, right? Something, or someone, has to be blamed and held accountable. Evil gives us something tangible to focus our anger on, and therefore, we accept its place on earth.
What particularly stood out for me is how the author uses one character’s PoV to establish the sketch of another character. I quite liked this use of having chapters dedicated to individual character PoVs. Case in point, the first chapter from Darby’s PoV actually helped me understand the layer’s in Max Jagger’s character far better than the chapters from his own PoV.
This one’s a mystery and the attention stays on that. It is peppered with just the right amount of romance, according to me. If you ask me, I’d say the author has given equal attention to the mystery and the romance. (I’ve never considered erotica to be equivalent to romance; there’s just enough here as much was needed.) All of this considered, I can safely say that the author writes really well.
What I disliked about this book
That it lacks coherence in some places. First, I didn’t understand the need of the whole Wiccan angle in the story. It does nothing to propel the story forward, and works as well as any other back story would have.
Next up, is Max Jagger’s obsession with connecting every crime to the Black Bandit, without an obvious evidence of the same. His reasoning: the crimes happen too close to each other w.r.t the number of days. In my opinion, not a strong enough reason. At times the descriptions, especially the monologues go to a lot of places making focusing and remembering details a little tough. Too much text so sometimes something that should surprise don’t. I think this is also why the big reveal does not feel big enough; it sort of feels flat. I don’t know what was missing, but something definitely was. Basically, there’s so much guesswork going on, that I spent a lot of my time just connecting the dots, but eventually giving up.
Read this if you are looking for some good writing. Try reading this if you are looking for an edge of the seat thriller, because it is that for a good part of the story. Don’t read this if you are looking for more romance-erotica and less thriller (saying this because several people on Goodreads say they expected more romance and were disappointed).