I’m a fan of the author and when I got this chance to try one of her books in audio format, I jumped on it. I loved the blend of Anytown USA charm, average joe characters, sensual romance and intense suspense. The book got a bit long at times, but overall, I was into it.
The story opens with a horrific murder discovered at the back of J&J’s bar. Detective Alexander ‘Colt’ Colton is called in to investigate and it is soon obvious that the killer was making a statement to February Owens co-owner of the bar. The butchered body of long-time bar patron and slutty woman is the killer’s valentine to Feb. Unfortunately, this is just the beginning. Everyone who has ever wronged Feb is now on the killer’s list. The case is brutal, but the close contact with his one-time childhood sweetheart that he was ready to marry until she inexplicably broke it off, went wild, married a loser, divorced, and then ran off for a couple of decades before coming home and treating him to more distance, makes it even harder. He was hurt so badly by her actions and now she acts like he’s got the plague or the rare times when she acts like he did something to break them up. But, he was adopted into her family and against his own better judgment, he still loves Feb Owens.
Feb lost herself in the years since she broke things off with Colt, but she finally found her way home to run the family bar with her brother, Morrie. It’s a small town and its tough knowing that everyone thought she would end up with Colt just like she did and then she earned that wild reputation before stupidly marrying a guy who mistreated her with Colt being her rescuer. She couldn’t stand the whispers and looks so she ran. But now, someone watches from the shadows and has a sick fascination with her causing her to have to rely on Colt and his ability to both protect her and figure out who is doing all this. Her stupid heart still wants Colt even after what he did all those years ago. She’s held in a lot of hurt and thoughts for so long. Maybe its time to let it all go and start fresh? That is if a cunning killer will let her.
Alright, so this one has a lot going on. It leaps out the gates at the start with the intro of a murder. But then once that story line gets going, it takes a breather to establish the setting, the characters and the connections in the present and the past. Right away it is obvious that there is a BIG (with all caps) misunderstanding between Colt and Feb. She seems to think he did something awful enough back in the day that warranted breaking off their relationship and basically losing herself for a few decades staying silent about it even with her family while on the other hand, Colt never did know what caused her to break things off and start treating him the way she did. The story spends a long time going back and forth progressing both the suspense line and slowly bringing things steadily toward a head with this romance barrier.
This was a tough one for me to have patience because as the reader I was well aware that the way the author described the hero meant the heroine had it all wrong and she broke them both and hurt her family when she pulled the cord and bailed. I really don’t like it when someone has a problem and their solution is to cut the lines of communication. In this instance, she holds her grudge for over twenty years. It was utterly ridiculous and I really wanted to smack her good. The author realizes this so when the big reveal happens and the truth comes out, Feb gets to feel it all- the remorse, the guilt, and the pain of what she did to her own relationship, to Colt, to her family, and all the years that were lost. And Colt isn’t instantly forgiving and understanding when he realizes her part in his pain when she ditched him without checking things out better.
If that wasn’t enough, there was what I thought were unnecessary scenes when Feb’s past friends with benefits while she was out playing wanderer were thrown up in Colt’s face. One, Ham Reese, is actually the hero in one of the Colorado Mountain series books. This really didn’t have to be in the book to make it work so I would have been good to have missed it since it really didn’t do anything for my already iffy respect for the heroine. The book kept telling me that she’s special and I suppose she did have some good qualities, but all this stuff left me not really in the Feb Owens fan club.
So, that being said, this was still a really good romance and I loved these two together once they ironed out the issues. They were playful and hot and really worked.
The circle of friends and family was a big plus. I loved several of the secondary characters particularly Feb’s brother. These folks are so down to earth.
The suspense portion was horrific, but also pretty sad and pitiful. I shouldn’t feel that way about a villain who does what he does, but this person is sick of mind and not just in his actions. Lots of twists and exciting moments so that knowing who and why was only half the battle.
The narration was decent and I was pretty impressed considering this was a long one with lots of characters. Her voice is on the raspy side, but I thought she did well conveying emotion and personality for each character. Hearing a KA story in audio really brings out her writing style which as those familiar know can get choppy and not full sentences.
In the end, I enjoyed this one and enjoyed my time in The Burb world. I would definitely listen to more from the series and other books by this narrator. I would recommend the story for Romantic Suspense fans who don’t mind a long-developing story.
My thanks to Audible.com for the opportunity to listen to this story in exchange for an honest review.
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