Beachcomber is the most genuinely suspenseful romantic suspense novel that I’ve read in quite a while. A smart and genuine heroine balances a not-as-likable hero – add a downright creepy villain and you have a good read. That said, after finishing Robards’ latest, I’ve officially overdosed on romantic suspense.
Attorney Christy Petrino is terrified. She just found out that her ex-fiancée is a member of the mob and that the law firm where she works fronts for the mob. Christy is no stranger to organized crime; her family has always had mob ties. Her father and brother-in-law were mob flunkies, and her mother’s boyfriend, Vince, is a mob boss – but Christy never took that route. Vince compels Christy to do “a favor” for him and promises once she does this favor, she will be free and her family will be safe. Christy ends up in a beach house in North Carolina where she is to deliver a briefcase to an unknown person. Already terrified, she finds herself in a worse situation when she stumbles across a body on the beach. Going from bad to worse, Christy ends up caught in a serial killer’s sights. Fortunately, FBI Special Agent Luke Rand is staying next door to keep an eye on her. Unfortunately, it’s because he thinks Christy is involved in the mob, and that she can lead him to her missing ex-fiancée. Luke lies to Christy to gain her confidence. Complicating all this is his attraction to her.
Robards kicks the suspense off the minute the book opens as the villain chooses his next victim and sets the tone for the rest of the book. Readers will feel Christy’s terror from the start.
Christy appeals because she’s a strong heroine, even though she is easily scared. But in her situation her fear is understandable. Christy’s resiliency in the face of her fear is impressive. Unlike some silly heroines in romantic suspence, Christy has brains and doesn’t blindly run into danger. She sensibly thinks of doing little things like barricading her bedroom door because she’s scared, and they end up helping to save her life. Christy is suspicious of the men around her and trusts her instincts. That too, helps save her life.
Because Luke has to lie to Christy, he’s a hard character to warm up to. Luke lies because he doesn’t have any other option at first, and when he realizes that Christy isn’t willingly involved, it’s too late for him to stop lying. Luke seems to be a smart and competent agent. He knows what he’s doing and doesn’t experience any moments of doubt. He also saves Christy several times, proving to be a true hero.
While the story has a highly suspenseful feel to it, it’s not all grim. Robards adds some moments of levity involving Luke’s partner, Gary, and a cat he’s forced to adopt. But most of the focus is on Luke and Christy. There are few characters to serve as suspects, and the villain was a total surprise, and not necessarily in a good way. The times we are allowed into his thoughts, he comes across as a very creepy guy, as I suppose, most serial killers would be. I will admit though, that his reason for going after Christy didn’t make a lot of sense.
Despite the tight focus on Luke and Christy, their romance was more lust-driven than motivated by love. Their intimate encounters are hot, and they are definitely a good match in bed. I have my doubts about their happily ever after, but since this is more suspense than romance, that’s okay.
Beachcomber is a good end-of-summer beach read. It will hold your interest but it won’t tax your brain too much.