What would you do if you had to hide? What steps would you be willing to take to stay safe? Could you abandon one life to have a shot at another? What if there were kids involved? These are questions Laurel Hodges has had to ask herself more than once. She has never been pleased with the answer.
For two years her neighbors have known her as Vivian Stewart, mother and entrepreneur. She might not be super close to anyone, but she at least has friends, a good school for her kids, and a place in her community that isn’t on the bottom of the ladder. Then it happens: A single, violent act brings all the danger back into her life and she is once more Laurel Hodges, fugitive from a major gang. Her enemies have likely found her and she will have to choose to run or fight. As she looks around her at all she has built, she is fairly certain she knows what that decision will be. She’s just not sure if she – and those she loves – will survive that choice.
Since his wife died, all Sheriff Myles King has done is protect and serve. Only one woman has tempted him to look toward a future with a bit more, and she has made it clear she is off limits. As the two are forced to spend more time together while they face the growing danger to their community, Myles can’t help but think of what a great team they make. Will he be able to convince Laurel that that arrangement should be more permanent?
About sixty pages into this novel I set it down and bought the first book in the series. I just couldn’t figure out what on earth was going on and felt like I was missing a whole lot of the back story. After reading Inside, I was able to pick this back up and have a clear idea of who everyone was and why they were doing what they were doing. (Just thought I should mention that to readers before they get too far along in this review, since this book contains some spoilers for what happened in that one and this review will as well.)
Laurel was a touch difficult for me to understand. She seems determined to protect her little ones, but she also does things which are risky to their safety. I didn’t like the way she handled things with Myles, especially her mega blunder at the start of the novel. I couldn’t understand the relationship she had with her mother given all that had happened in her past. A lot of my confusion with the novel at first stemmed from being confused by her.
Myles, however, is a great character. In many ways he is a typical small town sheriff, but the author developed his character far beyond his law enforcement persona. He had half the women in town chasing him and had a sense of humor about it. He was a good friend to Jake, Laurel’s nine year old, even when he wasn’t likely to get anything from Laurel out of it. He’s a good dad to his teenage daughter. He loved his first wife but didn’t idolize her; his love felt very real and natural.
I liked that the romance didn’t overshadow Myles’ previous relationship and that where we leave it shows natural progression. However, this portion of the book was not strong. They didn’t have a lot of time to build given everything that was going on.
The suspense is fairly well handled. Portions of it, especially some regarding what the police could actually do, seemed very authentic. While there were some convenient Hail Mary passes towards the end, I could accept them as needed for the HEA.
The secondary characters were a bit weak. I was really disappointed with what had happened with Pretty Boy between the last novel and this one. I had expected this romance to be between him and Laurel. It was great, however, to see Virgil and Peyton again and to learn all that has gone on in their relationship and to watch Virgil and Pretty Boy in action once more.
While lacking the intense hero and heroine relationship of the first novel of the series, this is still a solid romantic suspense and a good “middle book.” But I strongly suggest reading the first book before picking up this volume.