I read a fair amount of romantic suspense, but kidnapped heroine plots tend not to work for me. There’s often way too much TSTL craziness involved for me to get sucked into the tension of the story. It’s also hard for an author to convince me that the kidnapper and the kidnappee have a healthy relationship together. Not so with Lethal Lies. I’ll admit that I rolled my eyes when I read the back blurb, but Lara Lacombe does a nice job both of creating tension and of making readers like her characters.
Dr. Jillian Mahoney leaves her shift at the ER but the toughest part of her day is just beginning. A mysterious man snatches her out of the parking lot and throws her into the back of a car, telling her that she’s there to help a friend with a gunshot wound. And from there it just gets stranger and stranger.
We learn early on that undercover FBI agent Alex Malcom had infiltrated one of DC’s dangerous gangs, and that a mole on the inside had sold him out in such a way that not only did his cover get blown to the gang, but his colleagues were left thinking he’d betrayed them in an operation gone bad. And the injured “friend?” None other than a gang contact who happens to know the truth. Alex may despise him, but he needs to keep him alive to clear his name. And that’s where Jillian comes in.
It’s an improbable setup, but in an odd way, it works. Part of that comes from the author handling the romance with a very subtle touch. Jillian starts off scared for her life, not fantasizing about how Mr. Kidnapper might be in bed. At the beginning, there’s plenty of action and even if the setup is totally over the top, the writing conveys enough urgency to draw one in and then as the plot develops, it’s not hard to feel sympathetic toward both lead characters. I wasn’t sure for a while that I could see them together, but I could like both of them as individuals. Given the circumstances, much of the romantic portion of the story takes places in the second half of the book and in this case, that worked. It would have felt a bit off to have these two getting together too quickly.
A major strength of the book came from how Alex and Jillian handled the obstacles thrown their way. By book’s end, they have truly become a team. At one point, the two find themselves in jeopardy. Jillian is able to get the drop on the villain, while Alex completes the task of getting them to safety. In that scene, each character puts their talents to use and they would not have been able to save the day without each other’s efforts. I appreciated seeing a couple function as equals in that way. Each needed the other, and they were there for one another. Maybe not hearts and flowers, but it’s very romantic. It’s also one of the few times I’ve seen the suspense action help to bolster the romance.
The villain and the conspiracy behind Alex’s predicament felt a little far-fetched and there’s some extra drama at the end that just felt unnecessary, or at least not well enough developed. However, these were fairly minor letdowns, and overall I enjoyed reading Lethal Lies. I first discovered Lara Lacombe when I read her debut, Deadly Contact, for review and I enjoy her science-tinged thrillers. After reading this one, I’ll definitely be coming back for more.