>> Friday, April 27, 2012
Daughter of a controlling mother, Elizabeth finally let loose one night, drinking at a nightclub and allowing a strange man’s seductive Russian accent lure her to a house on Lake Shore Drive. The events that followed changed her life forever.16-year-old Elizabeth Fitch has been under her mother's thumb all her life. Her mother, a successful surgeon, had her by artificial insemination, carefully choosing the donor characteristics, and then spent the following 16 years molding Elizabeth into the perfect carbon-copy of herself. Elizabeth eats what her mother says, wears the clothes she deems appropriate and takes the classes selected for her. She's scarily clever, and has skipped grades so she is already in Harvard, taking pre-med.
Twelve years later, the woman known as Abigail Lowery lives on the outskirts of a small town in the Ozarks. A freelance programmer, she designs sophisticated security systems—and supplements her own security with a fierce dog and an assortment of firearms. She keeps to herself, saying little, revealing nothing. But Abigail’s reserve only intrigues police chief Brooks Gleason. Her logical mind, her secretive nature, and her unromantic viewpoints leave him fascinated but frustrated. He suspects that Abigail needs protection from something—and that her elaborate defenses hide a story that must be revealed.
Elizabeth has never rebelled against her mother. When she does, though, she goes to town with it. Literally. She ends up drinking Cosmos in a nightclub owned by the Russian mafia. Judgment slighly impaired and wanting to really live life, she ends up witnessing something awful. Before she can blink, she's a star witness under police protection, with the entire Russian mafia after her.
12 years later, Abigail Lowery moves into a property right outside a pretty little tourist town in the Ozarks. Abigail is reclusive and secretive, not making friends with anyone in town. She attracts the attention of the police chief Brooks Gleason, a man who can't resist a secret and who won't let himself be pushed away.
I LOVED this. It was my favourite Nora single title in a while. First, I opened it and loved the sections with Elizabeth as a teenager. It takes a while to get to the present-day section, but I didn't care, because it was so, so good. She's a brilliant character as a teen, and I loved her awakening to life. It all goes wrong, of course, and that just killed me.
But then we get to the present-day, and that was great as well. Abigail takes a while to warm up to. She's very socially awkward, bordering on rude, mostly because she doesn't really interact with people other than in the most superficial of ways. And she is extremely resistant to doing anything more, for very good reasons.
But Brooks is persistent. At first, it's only curiosity and doing his duty as police chief. A woman who's got industrial-grade security in her house, a trained attack dog and a veritable arsenal is clearly afraid of something, and if trouble is coming, the police chief needs to know. But it soon changes into something else, much, much more. In a strict sense, I guess this is a guy who does not listen when a woman tells him no, because he can tell she really means yes. I should have a problem with this. I didn't. It was so obvious to anyone with a pair of eyes that Abigail needed a bit of warmth and caring and family, that I just let that go completely.
I loved his fascination with Abigail, the way he found her awkwardness adorable and funny, and the way he was just exactly what she needed and deserved. Their initial attraction develops into intimacy right before our eyes, and when Abigail thinks no one has ever know her as Brooks does, that was obvious to me as the reader as well. He also gives her the sense of family and connection she needs, as he's very much a part of his community.
I loved the suspense as much as I did the romance. I don't want to say too much, because the joy of this book was about seeing things develop in a way that was completely unexpected to me. I was thinking it would be more like other Nora RS books, but it wasn't. Plenty of excitement, though, and a fantastic conclusion.
Oh, and the secondary characters! Bert the dog has more personality than characters who're supposed to be the protagonists in other books. This is one of Nora's main strengths, in my opinion, secondary characters who feel real and well-rounded. I've said it before, but whenever I read one of her JD Robb books, every time they go to interview someone new, I get excited about meeting a new character, because I know they're going to be individual and unique in some way, and interesting. Just read this book and when you get to the section when a guy called Roland Babbet shows up, you'll see what I mean.
MY GRADE: An A-.