Desert Isle Keeper
I don’t do romantic suspense. Something about the short time period and traumatic events that lead to the hero and heroine declaring their love is too much for me. I’m an epic kind of gal. But then Marianne Stillings waltzes on to the scene with a wonderful mix of humor, suspense, and sexiness that makes for a great read – even to someone who is not a real fan of the genre.
Tabitha March is a psychic dream interpreter. She uses her book smarts about what dreams mean along with her gift to see another person’s dreams by touching them to do a little dream therapy. When one of her clients dreams of a murder that fits the details of an actual murder, Tabitha contacts the police. Inspector Nate Darling is assigned to her case and he thinks she’s loony, but since it’s the only lead in the murders he takes the bait. He also thinks she’s gorgeous, but that’s another matter.
More murders abound and Tabitha is uncertain if her client is really as bad as he seems. Yes, he attacks her, acts a bit touched, and all evidence is pointing to him, but something is just not right with the situation. What started out as a doing her civic duty by going to the police, starts to get personal and Tabitha is in danger. Meanwhile she’s falling in love with a man who doubts her gift and that is just not kosher with her. Nate is equally entranced by Tabitha. He doesn’t have any conflict with them getting together; he’s just not sure he can accept her psychic abilities.
There is a nice balance between the romance and mystery here. With the romantic suspense titles I have tried, one side of the story usually gets shortchanged. Nate and Tabitha have ample time to get to know one another without the killer breathing down the backs of their necks. The mystery itself is very nicely done and I had no clue what was coming next. Very “edge of your seat” stuff.
Nate and Tabitha are a great couple. More importantly they are fabulous individuals, too. Nate, who made a brief but memorable appearance in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evie, is quite a card and had me laughing out loud during many parts of the book. For example, he keeps personalized ring tones in his cell phone for his friends and family and the ring tone for his older brother, with whom he doesn’t see eye to eye, is “Can You Feel the Love Tonight?” And there is also a memorable scene that mirrors a Jerry Maguire moment, though slightly more profane, that had me crying I was laughing so hard.
Tabitha is much more than she first appears. When Nate first meets her she is everything feminine and soft. He thinks she looks like the proverbial farmer’s daughter, but soon learns that looks can be deceiving. Tabitha has a smart mouth and a sharp mind. Her background with men makes her wary of relationships – and rightly so. Her father and her ex-husband are both bad seeds. Outside of her appearance, Tabitha would never fit into a sweet and frilly mold and Nate loves her even more for it.
Ms. Stillings styled the love scenes perfectly with a blend of sexiness and emotion. As hot, and somewhat frank, as the sex scenes are, they are filled with the love the characters are feeling. They also move the story along instead of halting it dead in its tracks.
As I say, I’m not usually a fan of romantic suspense, but on a whim, picked up Marianne Stillings’ first book, A Damsel in This Dress, at the library some time ago and loved it. Arousing Suspicions is by far her best yet and I eagerly look forward to the next in the series, about Nate’s older, grumpier brother Ethan. Ms. Stillings is now firmly planted on my auto-buy list – the first and only romantic suspense author there.