This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Genres: Mystery Romance, Romantic Suspense
Published by Berkley
Released on August 11, 2020
Karen Rose can grab you by the throat of your emotions, give you thrills and chills as you go into some gritty, dangerous places with the investigation teams, and invite you to fall in love with her complex characters with each new installment. I was excited to discover this was Gideon’s story and a little wary about it also being Mercy’s, and rightly so, but well worth it.
Say No More is the twenty-fourth of the overall Romantic Suspense series, but second in the books focused in Sacramento. It probably could be read standalone in a pinch, but definitely works best read after Say You’re Sorry, at least.
Say No More opens with a fragile Mercy returning to Sacramento after fleeing the city six weeks before in the aftermath of a serial killer being caught and that kiss from Rafe. Running with no word to her brother, Gideon, and Rafe, was a cowardly and wrong thing to do and it didn’t even help. Her work in the forensic lab is distracted to the point of making significant errors and she’s put on leave so she determines to make things right with the brother she held hate and blame for all these years and the man who stirred her up with scary emotions particularly since he took a bullet for her. She needs to help Gideon find Eden and end what goes on there and find the strength to face it all including growing feelings for Rafe.
Unfortunately, her name came up in a TV interview that gets seen by the wrong person. Brother Ephraim from the Eden Cult spots Mercy and knows that dragging her back to Eden will kill two birds with one stone. She can help the cops identify him and she is his big chance in the power struggle for leadership of the cult after the Pastor passes on. DJ, the other main contender swore he killed Mercy and Ephraim can catch him in his lie by producing Mercy. While the FBI hunts him, he is hunting her and he doesn’t care how many necks he needs to snap or bullets he needs to fire to get what he wants.
Other narrative threads weave through these and all eventually intersect for a big ending that leaves room for more work from the group of law enforcement people in Sacramento.
Generally, I am not one for darker stories, but there has always been something about Karen Rose’s writing that pulled me in and keeps me there- willing to walk the dingy alleys, shadowy streets, and dark places with those who are real heroes both the ones who survive terrible odds and those who serve and protect because yes, these stories offer both of those viewpoints.
Mercy is both a survivor and a member of the law enforcement community. My heart ached through her story and those of others who were abused in the Eden cult. Her panic attacks and withdrawals inside herself left me feeling helpless and scared for her though I was glad her best friend came along with her for support. Eden was a heinous place run by evil people and it fired me up to see the group led by Gideon and Mercy going after the place. It isn’t just a cult and the leaders aren’t benign religious types as they slowly discover. I was stressing out and getting pretty emotional at times as things came out or happened. I’ll offer a trigger warning to those who struggle to read about abuse or violence associated with it.
As usual, the author did her due diligence with the backdrop of the story whether it was cult practices, abuse victim/survivor behavior, police procedures, and even the local setting. It all makes for a well-layered story.
The action-suspense plot offers several points of view including the villains which adds tension. I had to set the book aside a few times when it got intense (I’m not a tough, hard-core thriller reader, keep in mind), but it was still an amazing read with a few breath-taking aha moments.
I enjoy the level of romance that is in each book that balances with the suspense. I felt this one had a little more focus on Rafe and Mercy’s slowly-progressing relationship than past books. And, it got a little spicier. I thought it made sense because their romance was also an indicator of healing taking place when Mercy could get to a place where they could be in bed together without sending her into a panic. Rafe was so patient and gentle with her and supported her as she worked and struggled with the demons inside. Mercy was good for Rafe, too. He wanted to get back to work at the police department and be a part of things instead of on leave and an invalid. She was smart and loyal, had her own skills that she could bring to the table besides her past experience with the cult. They were a great match.
Rafe’s large, supportive Russian family and the larger circle of friends including Tom from Chicago (hopefully he gets his book next) were so wonderful. I loved them from the moment they appeared in Gideon and Daisy’s book.
All in all, it was another absorbing, gut-wrenching, and abso-fabulous romantic suspense that I can breeze through the hefty amount of pages without noticing for the most part. If you like your romantic suspense girtty and action-packed while still getting sensational character and romance development give these a go.
My thanks to Berkley for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
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