I had such a good time with the breakout book for this series that I was ready to dive right back in with the second book. This book took up the story of one of the primary characters from the first book, Dev Jones, and another of the psychically ‘crifted’ Scott sisters. Another engaging installment to this delectable series.
I suppose the reader could get away with reading this one out of order in a pinch, but I would recommend reading it in order for optimal enjoyment since the hero and other characters were introduced in the first book.
The story opens when Shelley Morgan has yet another series of mishaps to confirm that Wednesdays are evil for her. She works as vet in a practice with the owner who has grown absent minded of late and an intern that acts as the dog groomer. It is the perfect situation in a small town where she can start over after the break-up with her fiance, earn good money and be groomed to take over the practice when the older doctor retires.
Shelly has a gift that enables her to receive mental images from animals and make herself understood. It is her gift that allows her to figure out that something is wrong at the local privately owned zoo. Animals are disappearing. This is what gives her the impetus to reconnect with an old college friend, Dev Jones, who was going into a career in law enforcement. Dev knows about and accepts her gift so he won’t question that she is getting her information from the other animals at the zoo. It doesn’t hurt that Dev still causes her a few steamy daydreams and that he isn’t indifferent to her either. Dev is willing to help, but cautious. Shelley’s attention is also divided by the pitiful situation of a local foster boy being abused and members of the community disappearing and turning up dead with one being found in her trunk.
Dev can’t believe that Shelley looked him up when she did and its perfect timing that she needs his help. He has a reason to connect with her too- okay other than his desire to see her again particularly since she obviously never married his jerk of an old roommate. He would love to get that story and also needs to set her straight about several lies Cam told, but first, he has a reunion between long lost birth siblings to arrange as Shelley and Jules were separated in the foster care system and adopted into separate families. Jules has hunted a long time for Shelley and Dev remembered Shelley talking about finding her sisters. He is confused when Shelley is more focused on the animal disappearance and is oddly reticent about meeting up with the sister she claimed to have wanted to find. Dev can’t figure her out, but the old spark is still definitely there and he will do whatever he can for Shelley even while needing to respond to a new case involving murder.
The plot was twisty and offered up several story threads to keep the reader busy guessing what was relevant particularly to solving the murders/missing animal case along with a tentative romance and family reunion. The plot can feel pretty loose as a result of all that is going on in the story as it flips between the animal situation, the foster child, the murders, the sister reunion and the romance. It was almost too much going on and affected some plot threads staying under-developed particularly the romance. The suspense element was the strongest and best represented. It took some time to build like an old-style cozy mystery with the clues building one on one until the impressive big reveal takes place during a tension-filled grand finale climax near the end.
As to the other side of the plot, the romance, it was given short shift much of the time. I liked the idea of the two characters together, but other than a few interrupted discussions about stuff other than the case and a day or so of passion there wasn’t much and needed more time to develop something solid. They didn’t clear up the past involving Cam and much of the present was spent with Shelley adamantly refusing to engage in anything beyond the physical because she was terrified to get close and always had one foot out the door because she lost so many significant people in her life early on. I needed more relationship building to be sold on their romance. I will point out that they had some history together as college friends to make the romance plausible at least when Dev could get the slippery Shelley cornered long enough to try for something with her. And physical chemistry? Yeah, they definitely had that in spades.
This leads me to discuss a bit about the characters.
Shelley was a heroine that I was amused by while at the same time she got me irritated not just a few times. I found her Dr. Dolittlesque personality amusing the way she was so into her animals and almost oblivious to much else. Poor Dev was pulled back and forth trying to fulfill his promise to Shelley that she reminded him of often to help her find the zoo animals even as he tried to make her see that others were on the case and he had murder to investigate at his own job. She got on so much better with animals and struggled to even function with her fellow people. In her rush to protect her own heart because of her abandonment fears, she inadvertently managed to crush Jules and Dev who both really love her. With Dev, she shut him down and turned her back on him with not a word and with Jules she verbalized needing to get away from her distrusting that Jules needed her and wanted to be family again. I couldn’t love that even when she seemed remorseful afterward. She was wrong, but when she did work through it all, she sat there stewing and waiting for Dev and Jules to make the first moves. I was also not impressed with her brains when she kept rushing into danger insisting that she could handle it when it was patently clear that she couldn’t. But hey, I guess that’s what made things get pretty exciting there in the end. She had a lot to work through and she did stop running so in the end I didn’t hate her and just wanted her to be happy.
Now Dev? He was a sweetheart. He crushed on Shelley in college and still felt that way toward her when they met up again. He was protective of her and only wanted to see her happy. I loved that he was so sangfroid about her psychic gift. He was so patient with Shelley and her hang-ups. Even after she hurt him more than once when she pushed him away, he stuck with her. He had a huge heart and it definitely was a plus that he was sizzling hot.
The main story arc of the three sisters progressed to two of them now found, to more of their past revealed and to more about their gifts surfacing. I really look forward to what comes next. Oh and I won’t be offended if Dev’s two yummy cousins get stories too.
So to wrap it up, I found this second book an overall enjoyable read with its cunning blend of several elements like spicy romance, engaging suspense and the pinch of paranormal that add up to good storytelling.
My thanks to Penguin Group and Net Galley for the opportunity to read the book in exchange for an honest review.
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