Series or Stand Alone: Stand Alone
Release Date: December 2004 (hardcover)
Publisher: Five Star Trade
Author Site: http://awhittier.blogspot.com/
My Rating: 4/5
Source: Received for review from author
High-spirited horse trainer Jessica Stanson stumbles into the perfect job on one of the most elite ranches in Montana. Or at least it would be if her boss, ex-detective Michael Carven, stopped acting like he didn't want her there. Jessica has to prove herself to him on the ranch, and also try to penetrate his armor to get to the man inside.
Michael Carven is a man who has left a difficult past behind him, and now works at his dream job raising horses under the Montana sky. But he knows that the past has a way of coming back to him, and soon enough, it does. A wave of violence hits the nearby small town of Riverside, nestled deep in the mountains, as a cunning serial killer preys on the population. Against his will, Michael finds himself both drawn into the case and coming to care for his independent new trainer. And if having a killer on the loose wasn't enough, his two worlds collide when Jessica becomes the only material witness in the case. Before it is over, Michael and Jessica will put everything they know and hold dear on the line to catch a vicious, cunning killer - and to protect each other as well.
I always enjoy a good romantic suspense novel. I’m a sucker for romance and I happen to really enjoy suspenseful moments… so put them together and you have a nice little party via words. Fatal Embrace was a well-written, nicely-paced, enjoyable romantic suspense novel. It can easily be read in one sitting although it took me much longer because of little girls not letting me get my reading time in…
Jessica and Michael were very likable. Although their relationship was somewhat shoved together at times I thought they went well together. Michael has a very painful past that he’s still working on getting over. His ranch is what keeps him grounded and brings him peace in a world full of chaos. Jess enters his life as a new horse trainer and brings about a whole string of emotions that threatens to unravel the carefully constructed world Michael has created for himself. Michael does his best to keep Jess away from his heart but she pretty much wonderful in every sense of the word. Her personality, beauty, and strength make it impossible for Michael not to fall in love with her.
Even though Michael owns a very successful ranch and is no longer a detective he still likes to help out his ex-partner on cases. There is a string of murders in a nearby town and a serial killer seems to be on the loose. Michael seems to be making it his personal mission to find out who the killer is and put an end to the murders. And things really hit home when Jess becomes a key witness in the case and just may be the killer’s next victim.
I was a little troubled with the mixture of the mystery aspect and the contemporary romance on the ranch. Sometimes the transitions were a little jumbled and I had a hard time switching between mystery-suspense mode and contemporary-romance mode. There were times when they flowed nicely into each other but others…not so much. I also had love-hate feelings towards Michael and Jess’ relationship. Michael is very tough and he’s got a hard exterior. He’s obviously trying to push Jess away despite her persistence. Jess is very sweet. She’s intelligent, funny, and caring. So they actually go together nicely but there were moments when I felt things were a little forced together…like two puzzle pieces that don’t quite match. I get that Michael had a complicated and hurtful past but his mood swings were a little out there… Despite that I still really loved Michael and Jess. They are very passionate people and like I said they do go well together.
I loved how realistic things were in Fatal Embrace. It was so easy to envision things happening and I really like that about a novel. I like to be able to see things in my mind. I know a lot of people who haven’t had a chance to pick it up yet or those who haven’t heard of Fatal Embrace will like it!
P.S. (cover talk)
Although it has a suspense-like feel to it I’m not a huge fan. It’s too woodsy for me. I would have liked to see something more open and ranch-like. I think this one would be really tough to design a cover for. So I’m actually okay with it.