Saturday, April 5, 2014

Killing Secrets by K.L. Docter

Note:  I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. 
Release Date:  17APR2014
My Experience:  A-/ B+
Synopsis:    Rachel James’ ex-husband is released from prison determined to reclaim her and her little girl — his key to the James fortune. Frightened, Rachel flees to Denver with the child who hasn’t uttered a word since her daddy went to prison.
Contractor Patrick Thorne wants nothing to do with another of his parents’ charity cases. He failed his own wife so abysmally she took her own life as well as his unborn son’s. After two years, it’s time to concentrate on the bid he’s won and the saboteur trying to destroy his construction firm.
There is no room for trust in either of their hearts. But trust is all that will untangle the secrets that dominate their lives, free a little girl of her silent prison, and save them all from a serial killer who stands too close.

Killing Secrets is intense, K.L. Docter hooked me with a prologue that creeped me out and a first chapter that made me want answers before I had all the questions. Aside from my trip to the coffee pot, she held me captive with her narrative and rapid fire action. The pacing was tight, steady as a heartbeat, even when mine was racing. The glimpses of insanity chilled me so I actually felt the hairs on my body stand up. It was a brutally exciting read that I earnestly recommend for action/ suspense romance readers.

Rachel James and her daughter Amanda find sanctuary house-sitting in Denver but her hopes of security are short lived when her vicious ex-husband finds them. Reluctantly, Patrick Thorne is drawn into the equation. He has troubles of his own. There’s someone sabotaging his business and he’s not sure how much longer he can hang on. Even though his brother is a cop, construction site woes and vicious ex-spouses have to be prioritized against a serial killer that has already murdered three women with another one missing. Patrick has military training and despite his reservations of getting involved with distressed damsels, he’s willing to move back into the family home to protect Rachel and Amanda.

Neither Rachel nor Patrick is in a headspace to find their soul mate. Rachel’s had no time to process or heal, her daughter hasn’t spoken a word in six months and now she’s forced to stay put while her ex is prowling and the cops are trying to find him. Patrick’s dealing with potential financial ruin and emotional wounds that haven’t closed since his wife’s suicide two years ago. Six months after my divorce I was still not sleeping on the sofa with a baseball bat snuggled closer than my pillow. So, you’ll understand it takes a skilled hand to make me want to believe this case of true love is possible. Ms. Docter does achieve this.

I want to believe.

The villains were really, really creepy. Not two-dimensional cut outs but freaking scary with a capital S. They never became mere tools. I appreciated the author’s respect for her readers in this regard. I did not find them more fascinating than the other characters, which can happen. Likewise the secondary characters were fleshed out just enough to give them life, pique my curiosity but not so much they took over the tale. There wasn’t much humor in this romance, but tension was relieved by the parents and siblings of Patrick. They also added to the conflict; secondary characters with dual roles makes me happy!

Rachel wasn’t a cardboard victim. She was entirely believable for me with a viable plan for her future that did not require a man and included help for her daughter. Her instinct to flight was not irrational but she listened, considered and did what was sensible in the situation. I did sigh over the fact she and Patrick were intimate five days after they met; it did cause more problems in an already insane situation, and was totally realistic, well, almost.

Patrick was more difficult for me. I liked him at first but as the story progressed I had trouble believing Patrick had an overactive rescue the damsel gene as his family relentlessly claimed and he feared. Maybe it was more a matter of what he did with it that I didn’t fully connect with. Since personalities under stress are not consistent, I accounted for his back and forth reactions in this way.

I didn’t feel the resolve of the conflict that the mistakes Patrick made with his late wife, Karly were the same mistakes he was repeating with Rachel. It seemed to me most of Patrick’s guilt over failing Karly was actually anger with her for failing to be stronger, even after big revelations. I never got the feeling Patrick saw Karly’s inner strength or comprehended what she coped with. It made me question his future understanding for Rachel’s bad days. This facet of Patrick’s character prevented him from being a hero for me, personally.

Those feelings might have changed if there had been time for Rachel and Patrick to develop communication beyond the physical attraction conflict. They spent several chapters at odds, not talking and avoiding each other. With a four week, two day time line, that’s tough to take. Perhaps as the series progresses I’ll like Patrick again, I really want to. Rushing the HEA is all that prevented this from being a firm A book for me. It was totally worth the time and roller coaster ride. I eagerly await the rest of the series.

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