I received this book for free from Advance Reader Copy in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Midnight Dunes by Laura GriffinMidnight Dunes by Laura Griffin
Series: Texas Murder Files #3
Published by berkley on May 24, 2022
Genres: Contemporary RS
Pages: 368
Format: eBook
Source: Advance Reader Copy
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When the shocking discovery of a murdered woman's body disturbs the tranquility of tourist season, the police detective in charge of the puzzling case must work alongside the new filmmaker in town to pursue every lead in the new romantic thriller from New York Times bestselling author Laura Griffin.

After a scandal derails her television reporting career, Macey Burns comes looking for a change of pace in Lost Beach, Texas. She's ready to focus on her first passion--documentary filmmaking--and has a new job working for the island's tourism board, shooting footage of the idyllic beachside community. Her plans for a relaxing rebound are dashed when she realizes the cottage she's renting belonged to the woman whose body was just found in the sand dunes.

Detective Owen Breda is under intense pressure to solve this murder. Violent crimes are rising in his small town, and he can't stand to see anyone else hurt...especially not the beautiful documentarian who keeps showing up at the precinct.

With the clock ticking, cameras rolling, and body count climbing, Macey and Owen must use all their resources to find the killer without getting caught in the crosshairs.

In this third book in Laura Griffin’s Texas Murder Files series, we see our heroine Macey, a former news reporter, making her way to Lost Beach, TX for her new beginning in life. She’s started a production company and she’s been hired by the tourism board of the small town to help create some new branding. There’s been a rise in crime lately and as Macey joins the small beach town, she winds up in the middle of a murder investigation. It turns out, she’s rented the victim’s home.

The next morning, she sees a lot of commotion down the beach at the dunes and jogs over to check it all out. The victim’s body has been found, officially escalating her from missing person to homicide victim. And the super hot detective who wants to know who Macey is and why she’s at his crime scene isn’t going to scare her away. Since Macey used to be a reporter, she still kind of has those reporter instincts and asks about the case a lot. But then gets mad Owen can’t talk about the case. He’s a detective. In an open murder investigation. Of course he can’t talk about the case!

Meanwhile, Owen has fallen hard for Macey from the moment he saw her jogging up to his crime scene, however every time he tries to spend time with her, his case needs him, or a new lead pops up. For her part, Macey has left the world of television reporting in disgrace after a scandal, so she’s all business. While on one hand she definitely wants the sexy detective, on the other, she needs to focus on her new career. But once she starts hearing noises and weird sounds outside of her rental, things escalate. She’s not sure it’s related to the murder case or not until something big happens, and she and Owen both realize she’s very tangled in the threads of his case.

Now this is the biggest thing that bothered me: we know nothing about the hero. Nothing. Anything you know about him comes from previous books. We learned more about Nicole, one of the other police officers, than we did about Owen. Now that doesn’t mean you’ll be confused at all, the book is able to fit as a stand-alone, however it shows how little detail was given to Owen. We don’t hear about his past, about why he feels like he isn’t in the job that’s right for him, his feelings about his older brother…we don’t get answers. I feel that leads into my second thing: the romance. There wasn’t much. I’m all for inst-love, I’m 100% in for love at first sight, but the romance aspect of this book wasn’t very romantic. There was very little getting to know each other. Macey shared more of herself, but Owen was quiet and didn’t really talk about himself. It was kind of unusual for this author.

The mystery kept me gripped, but the romance wasn’t her best. This author has a talent for hooking the reader instantly and keeping the mystery fresh, she leaves you with a vivid image of her location, and you can’t turn pages fast enough! I am greatly looking forward to the next book.

***ARC courtesy of the publisher via Netgalley