More Than a Lawman
Hands down, More than a Lawman has the most unusual opening for a romance I’ve read this year: the book opens with the heroine hanging like a slab of meat in a locked freezer. When she looks around the freezer she discovers eight – now dead – individuals hanging there along with her. This unusual and rather terrifying opening scene is the start of an intriguing mystery. The plot held my interest throughout, surprising me at several points. However, while I understood the heroine’s motivations, I found her unlikable for much of the book, and wondered what the hero saw in her. The mystery definitely overshadows the romance, leading to a somewhat lukewarm recommendation.
We learn a lot about investigative reporter Eden St. Claire as she attempts to rescue herself from the freezer. Through skill and determination she gets herself down from the hook at about the same time as her friend Detective Cole Delaney and a squad of police burst in. Eden has been investigating the serial killer known as the Iceman, and recently ranted about him on her blog. Everyone – including Cole and Eden’s boss – suspect her rant is what led to her being drugged and hung up in the freezer with the Iceman’s other victims.
Cole and Eden have known each other from childhood when Cole was Eden’s brother’s best friend. When Eden’s brother was killed in Afghanistan, Cole promised him he would keep an eye on Eden, and Eden thinks that’s the extent of Cole’s feelings for her – other than being furious with her for putting her life at risk time and time again. In Eden’s mind, Cole is a “by the book” detective and she’s a “not by the book” reporter. However, it was obvious to me from the early going that Cole cares deeply about Eden and wants her as far more than a friend.
Eden’s life has been scarred by loss, beginning with the murder of her childhood friend Chloe when they were nine. Eden blames herself for Chloe’s death, a burden she’s kept hidden from everyone else. Her brother devoted his life to Eden after the car crash that killed their parents and nearly killed Eden, and his death in Afghanistan has left her with no family. All of these losses have left her reluctant to become seriously involved with anyone. But after the incident in the freezer, Cole insists that Eden have a 24-hour a day bodyguard until the Iceman is arrested, and that bodyguard turns out to be Cole. This enforced closeness removes his restraint where Eden is concerned, and they quickly become more than friends.
While I understand Eden’s issues, I found her difficult to warm to for much of the book. Cole is a much more likable character, although I wondered initially why he cares so much for Eden, as she often treats him poorly. I love how Cole dissects Eden at several points in the story when she’s being particularly disagreeable and headstrong. He tells her that her promises mean nothing, her word is nothing. She’s solely focused on her objective of taking down the Iceman and nothing else matters. And she acts recklessly and stupidly to do so. Eden acknowledges she’s not a nice person. She’s selfish. She’s rude. She’s not romantic. When Eden finally decides she wants to have sex with Cole it’s to scratch an itch; Cole has genuine feelings for her and doesn’t go along with it at first.
I found the mystery fascinating, once it really got going, but it overshadows the romance. In addition to the Iceman murders, Eden and her two best friends begin to get messages that appear to be from Chloe’s killer. This is the first in the author’s Honor Bound trilogy and I assume Eden’s two friends will be featured in the remaining books. I will definitely pick up the next in the series, as I found both of Eden’s friends to be more likable than she, and also consider the underlying mystery of Chloe’s murder intriguing.