A mysterious cop sweeps a single mother off her feet, but is this Romeo too good to be true?
Unlucky-in-love Teresa Lansing isn’t looking for romance when she meets Frank McAllister, a “disturbingly good-looking” cop who’s just taken a new job in the small town of Cougar. But sparks fly immediately between the two, and before long the persistent Frank has won over Teresa. Yet the dream guy is not quite what he seems in this cautionary romance from Griffin (Seventeen Days, 2018). Sure, he’s charming and attentive, and more than willing to open his wallet to pay for nice dinners. But his intensity is off-putting. After only two dates, he convinces Teresa to join him for a romantic weekend on the coast, where he starts talking about marriage and his plans to pay for her deaf son Aiden’s cochlear implant. The skittish Teresa, still reeling from her ex-boyfriend’s recent infidelity, is rightfully troubled, thinking that her new beau “had skipped several steps in their relationship without her permission.” But Frank doesn’t take no for an answer and Teresa, eager for security, is gradually persuaded that he can be trusted, even as the red flags are waving. Frank’s gaslighting is disturbing—the author clearly has a handle on the warning signs of emotional abuse—and Teresa is sympathetically drawn. Even as it’s obvious to readers that Frank’s intentions are suspect, she never comes across as a fool for succumbing to his manipulations or ignoring her best friend’s warning that “rushing things is one of the signs of an abuser.” But as the story progresses, the plot begins to strain credulity. Frank, it turns out, is no garden-variety abuser. Griffin tosses in a lurid backstory involving his ex-wife, who died via autoerotic asphyxiation, and throws in a serial killer who’s been murdering young women in the Cougar area. Still, the final confrontation between Teresa and Frank is legitimately frightening, as she discovers to what lengths he’ll go to make her his.
A love story that skillfully shows that abusers don’t need to use physical violence to control their victims.