After a somewhat rough start, the Family Secrets series is shaping up to be surprisingly decent. It doesn’t have the uniformity and solid storyline progression from one book to another that the best of these series, or ones written by a single author, do. But there have been a number of good reads that work on their own – more than I’m used to seeing. The eighth entry in the series, Fever, is a good one, an exciting medical thriller from author Linda Winstead Jones.
Renowned epidemiologist Dr Faith Martin responds when a deadly epidemic hits a small Montana town. Local doctor Luke Winston, in charge from the start, is at a loss to do anything as his friends and neighbors take ill. The two doctors initially butt heads, until Luke sees that Faith knows what she’s doing and she recognizes just how deeply he feels for his patients.
Traveling the world from one hot zone to another keeps Faith from forming any serious relationships. As she works side by side with Luke, the closeness between them deepens and she finds herself responding to the single father in a way she hasn’t with any other man. But they can’t afford to let their feelings interfere with their work, especially when it becomes clear that the epidemic was no accident and wasn’t caused by natural means. When the town is quarantined, they have to find out who is responsible for unleashing an illness that might just be a test run for an attack on a larger scale.
Although Fever is a fast and compelling read for the most part, ite begins slowly. Like many writers in a series like this, Jones takes the easy way by starting with a prologue that lays out the backstory from the previous books in one fell swoop. This serves the purpose of catching the reader up, but it also makes for an awkward beginning. The story only really heats up when Faith arrives in Montana and goes toe to toe with Luke. From there it races along through twists and turns, moving into darker and more chilling scenes, as it becomes clearer what diabolical plan the villains have in mind and what part Faith will play in it.
Faith is an intriguing character, one who comes to learn of a secret past that won’t surprise those who have been following the series but is still news to her. Jones shows what a cool, calm and skilled doctor Faith is as she goes about investigating the epidemic and treating her patients. It’s always nice to see a heroine in an interesting profession doing it and doing it well. The brisk pace doesn’t allow for a huge amount of character development, but Faith is still a strong heroine. Her method for foiling the plot in the end and telling off the bad guys was great.
Luke isn’t given as much depth. His past seems a little typical and comes out in a perfunctory fashion. But he does make a good foil for Faith and even with the brief time they have to fall in love, their romance was a good one. It’s very sweet and the chemistry between them is strong. I was surprised at just how pleased I was at their happy ending. Knowing they would be together was very satisfying in a way many romances aren’t for me. Fever may not be the deepest read, and not exactly Tess Gerritsen-level when it comes to romantic medical thrillers, but it is quick and solidly entertaining. With this book, four of the eight Family Secrets books released so far have been good reads for me, with four left to go. Hopefully the streak will continue as the series makes it way into the homestretch.