One Last Breath
There is a new romantic suspense author in town. Laura Griffin’s debut novel, One Last Breath, is a strong blend of suspense and romance. The intelligent writing is full of promise. If this first book is any indication, we should see some good things from this author.
Feenie Malone meets Officer Marco Juarez the day she learns that her husband is cheating on her. The reason for their introduction is that she is causing something of a disturbance and her neighbors have called the cops. When Marco shows up, he finds a pretty blonde woman in a tennis outfit wielding a .22 rifle, taking out golf trophies that are lined up on the fence. This later becomes a momentous day for Marco as well, because his sister, another cop, disappears under suspicious circumstances.
Two years later, Marco is a private investigator and has spent the majority of his time trying to solve his sister’s case. He is convinced that an affluent lawyer, Josh Garland, played an integral role in his sister’s death; he just needs to get hard evidence together. When he bumps into Feenie again, he realizes that she just might be the connection he’s been waiting for, because Garland happens to be none other than the cheating husband from two years ago. Feenie lost everything but her house in her divorce and has been struggling to make ends meet writing fluff pieces at a newspaper. One night she stumbles across a possible story involving her ex that could finally win her a salaried position on the paper. What she doesn’t realize is that the Garlands are willing to do anything to make sure that story is never told.
Marco was attracted to Feenie from the moment he saw her blowing apart trophies. Feenie is into Marco, but she has a feeling, and rightly so, that he has an ulterior motive for helping her out. This causes Feenie some unease as she’s been played too often in the past, but on the other hand, she hasn’t been with anyone in a long time. As their relationship grows, the two slowly uncover pieces of the Garlands’ dirty dealings. While this is good for Marco’s case, people become more aggressive trying to silence Feenie.
For a debut novel, this book was quite well done and shows many promising qualities. The writing is intelligent, with emotions and characters vividly portrayed. The story pulls you in right away and has a satisfying balance of romance and suspense. Characters actually get to know each other through casual chats, which is a rare treat in suspense thrillers. In fact, I was ready to like this story more had it not been for a few quibbles.
There are several holes and loose ends in the story. It’s odd that Marco has investigated the Garlands for two years but the moment Feenie digs up some dirt, she becomes a target. There is also no clear path to indicate why the Garlands know that Feenie has discovered anything. Some issues were left unresolved at the end. Then, there is Feenie. I love the cover art and expected a heroine who was cool and stealthy. If the woman on the cover is Feenie, the shot must have been taken in one of her very rare moments of level-headed, on-the-job thinking. While she is smart and likable about half the time, the other half she verges on TSTL territory. I couldn’t believe some of the decisions and blunders that she made, seriously endangering both herself and others. And the truly annoying part of all these mistakes is that if she had just listened to someone’s more knowledgeable advice – instead of thinking she knew everything – they could have been avoided. Marco, on the other hand, is a great character. I loved his persistence and determination. No matter how ridiculously Feenie acts, he continued to be patient and show up in her life.
While I had some problems with One Last Breath, I enjoyed this book overall. The romance was believable and well-developed; the suspense was fun and interesting. More importantly, the writing was smart and I’m excited to see what this author will come up with next.