A debut novel mixes elements of mystery and romance to tell the story of a detective who must stay focused on her work in the heat of a passionate and unexpected encounter.
Isabelle “Isa” Carte is an ambitious and steel-nerved career woman, as the reader learns from the very beginning when she reacts with indifference to her long-term boyfriend leaving her for another woman. She is too preoccupied with her job as a detective to have time for romance. But when the body of her ex-boyfriend’s new lover is found in the river in Winnipeg, with Isabelle’s name written in lipstick on her forehead, she cannot deny that she is deeply disturbed. Encouraged by her work partner, Hank Curtis, she decides to hide out with her German shepherd, Jack, in her family’s lakeside cabin in rural Ontario for one week. Frustrated that she cannot play an active part in the investigation, her attention is soon diverted when she meets a rugged mountain man named Alec Reed. She’s initially suspicious of the handsome stranger (“She should try to figure out who Alec Reed was and what he was all about, if nothing else, to rule him out as a suspect....For her own safety, she should probably learn more about who he was and why he was here”). When a passionate relationship between them unfolds as quickly as her stalker continues to kill, Isa is torn between her work and her newfound love. The fiery combination of zealous romance and thrilling crime mystery makes the novel an absorbing and fast-paced read. Told in the third-person omniscient, the story flits among the perspectives of Isa, her new lover, and the killer. But as gripping as the murder mystery plotline is, so is the tragic family history of Alec, which is revealed to the reader long before he tells Isa. The author often uses the appropriate analogy of a storm to describe her protagonist’s unrelenting tumult: “nature seemed to be cleansed after yesterday’s storm…so much peace and beauty around Isa, but so much turmoil going on within her.” In addition to the rounded character development, there are moments of pure, uncensored sensuality that should give fans of romance and erotica welcome goose bumps. But the subsequent conclusion to the investigation will likely leave readers disappointed.
A solid, sexy thriller that should appeal to romance and crime-drama fans alike.