Fans of Sandra Brown will quickly recognize the basic plot of this novel. Rich, perfect wife with a great heart marries a cold, calculating man. She’s at a point in her marriage where she’s starting to wonder if she made the right decision. Events conspire to prove she didn’t. The formula is familiar but Brown is always able to breathe enough fresh life into it to keep you reading – and guessing – to the very end.
Emory Charbonneau is an heiress, a pediatrician and a marathon runner. It is that last thing which has her on an isolated mountain top training for a coming event. Emory plans to let the jog do her some spiritual and emotional good. Although not a recent event, the death of her parents is still a somewhat raw wound for her. The argument she had with her husband just before leaving hasn’t put her in a good mental place, either. Hopefully, a run will help her work the kinks out.
Then there is a sense of movement behind her, a terrible pain and a blackout. When she awakens she finds herself in a remote cabin with a large, brooding – but attractive – man. She can barely sit up without hurling, has to lean on him to walk to the bathroom. She knows her current condition is not good – anything he plans to do to her he can because she is in no position to put up a fight. He takes care of her that night, though he refuses to give her any information about who he is or why he is on the mountain. The next morning, when she finds he has sabotaged her cell phone, she attacks him. Her general weakness and his superior size, strength and training make for a relatively short battle. But Emory doesn’t give up. She tries seduction, wheedling, pleading and bribery. Nothing has an effect. Just what kind of trouble has she landed in?
Inclement weather seems to bring the two to an impasse. Emory can’t escape and he doesn’t seem interested in doing anything to help or hurt her. Then their adventure takes an unexpected turn when a girl in distress crashes on their doorstep. Emory’s Hippocratic Oath and healer’s heart have her aiding the young woman and seeing her captor in a new light. But this most recent complication has brought yet more trouble with it. The girl has two brothers, both of whom seem to have danger written all over them.
In the world of romantic suspense when you’re the prisoner of a good looking, brooding, dangerous man who makes your lady parts sizzle you are probably in the company of your true love. That is certainly true of this novel where the heroine, after a bit of initial resistance, finds herself mesmerized by an exasperating, enigmatic hero. If you are looking for a realistic love story, drop the book. You aren’t going to find it here.
What you will find is a heroine with questionable judgment (but without, apparently, any other flaws) and a hero who keeps secrets for reasons that will make sense to few people. You will find a relationship which brings the words Stockholm Syndrome to mind. And a mystery which has you vacillating between the thoughts , “Pfft, this is so obvious” and “Wait, am I missing something?” It is the latter that keeps you reading.
Brown isn’t a bestselling author for nothing. The characters, while sometimes resembling something other than humans, are well drawn. We come to understand that Emory doesn’t feel perfect, even if she comes across that way. The hero has reasons for his weirdness, even if they don’t make sense to anyone else. The secondary characters come across much better because they are people you could recognize acting the way they do for reasons you can understand if not always sympathize with. One group comes across as uber villains but for the most part even they come across as typical even if they are a touch of a stereo type.
With a mystery that is engaging if not enthralling and a writing style which has mastered the arts of pacing, characterization and plotting Brown delivers a fairly good romantic suspense. Her fans will not be disappointed. Newcomers to her work will find enough to like here to search out her backlist. This isn’t Brown at her best but even when Brown is average she writes a darn good mystery.