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Is it the perfect escape?
Whitaker Island is more than a getaway. For Tessa Jenkins, the remote strip of land in Washington state is a sanctuary. Fleeing from a shattering scandal, she has a new name, a chance at a new beginning, and a breathtaking new view: Hansen Rye. It’s hard not to crush on Whitaker’s hottest handyman. At six-foot-three and all kinds of fine, he’s also intensely private—and the attraction between them soon simmers dangerously out of control.
…or a private trap for two lovers?
After a devastating family tragedy, Hansen finds the pebbled shores of the faraway island to be an ideal refuge. Letting down his guard for the sexy, impulsive Tessa is an unexpected pleasure. But there’s another newcomer to Whitaker. He’s no stranger to Hansen. And when he’s murdered, the crime casts a threatening shadow. As suspicion falls on Hansen, all his secrets are about to collide with Tessa’s. Now the pasts they were determined to outrun are catching up to them. So is a killer who’s putting their love—and their lives—on the line.
This book has a grumpy hero and a sunshiney heroine. I love that trope! And I was in the mood for a good Romantic Suspense, so I jumped in!
Everyone who lives on Whitaker Island has secrets. That’s the draw. It’s a small community where everyone knows everyone, but their secrets are their own.
Tessa has moved to Whitaker Island as a temporary hiding place, or a fresh start. She hasn’t decided, but since she can work remotely, she isn’t in any hurry to figure it out. So she’s enjoying the slow paced, small town vibe this island has going on. But there’s one thing…she’s curious. I hesitate to use the word nosy, since she’s not gossipy or into everyone’s business, but if something strange happens, she wants to know what’s going on. Like the yacht that’s been parked off the island in a weird spot, with no signs of life, and no lights on for a couple of days. Because she doesn’t know what to do, after all, it isn’t illegal, it’s just weird, she calls in Hanson Rye. He’s the town handyman he’s super hot, and she’s got a crush on him. Half the island does.
Hanson doesn’t really react. He figures it’s a boat anchored near an island and it’s tourist season. What’s there to worry about? Sure it isn’t in a usual spot, but it’s not that weird. And as they’re talking, a man in a suit walks out of the ocean as if it’s the most normal thing in the world and walks into the trees. This cements Tessa’s fears that something weird is going on.
They go to the police officer on the island and have him check it out. While he investigates, Tessa does some digging of her own, which sort of leads into her personality. For someone hiding from something, she sure doesn’t know how to keep quiet or hide. I feel like she couldn’t let the police take over, she had to know, and felt like she would Nancy Drew the investigation.
I felt like the fact that people were gossiping about a fight and blood everywhere was lost during the investigation. They came back to the argument, but never mentioned the blood, nor the fact that someone was banging on her door and turning the doorknob before Hanson came over and it wasn’t him. Then there’s a dead body on her doorstep and they never tell the police about the person trying to get in?
I have mixed feelings on this book. I read after the fact that the author pitched it as “Imagine Jessica Fletcher’s Cabot Cove with more sex, more killing, and a lot of dysfunction.” I wish I’d read that first, because I might have understood Tessa’s desire to investigate better. In most Romantic Suspenses, the ones I prefer anyway, usually the hero and heroine are in constant danger and the hero is super protective and in some form law enforcement, or military. So I usually can suspend belief since I’m not, and I feel like they’d be braver or better suited for that. In this book, they’re both just normal people. So it didn’t make sense for her to investigate. With Jessica Fletcher, she always had some new angle or idea the police didn’t see. Here, I didn’t feel Tessa had that going for her. Don’t get me wrong, I liked her and thought she was great, I just didn’t see the reason she was investigating anything.
Maybe I feel that for a Romantic Suspense, this was very character-driven rather than action-driven. With as many murders as there were, there should have been more action. Instead it felt like it took a really long time to figure things out.
I did enjoy the author’s voice, and I did grab the next book in the series. I hope that now I see how she pitched it, I’m a bit less judgemental over the characters.
***ARC courtesy of Avon