Pride of a Hunter
Pride of a Hunter is the fourth book in Sylvie Kurtz’s miniseries The Seekers, about a group of former U.S. Marshals now working together on private cases. My grade for the first book was a C-, a C for the second, and a C+ for the third. The books are getting better and I’ve finally found one I can recommend.
As a sniper with the U.S. Marshals Service, Lucinda Taylor finally found the acceptance she never had in her own family. Then, in one terrible moment, she lost everything. A hostage situation went horribly wrong, and Cole, Luci’s husband and colleague on the assault team, was killed. Luci returned to her New Hampshire hometown to raise her son by herself, wanting to leave all reminders of her former life behind. That included Dominic Skyralov, another member of the assault team and one of her and Cole’s closest friends.
Eight years later, Dominic reenters her life, bringing back the memories of everything she wanted to forget. Dom is on the trail of a con artist who marries wealthy women, then disappears with all their money shortly after the wedding. He’s left a trail of victims across the country, and his most recent bride turned up dead. Dom thinks he’s tracked down the man, who’s already found his next victim: Luci’s sister, Jill. In order to save her sister, Luci reluctantly lets Dom back into her life and is forced to confront the past.
What I liked most about this story was the suspense plot with the con artist. It’s not a particularly fast-paced or suspenseful storyline. It’s more of a slow-burn kind of tale, unfolding at an even pace as the tension builds over the course of the book. We know who the villain is from the start, although there are still things for the hero and heroine to uncover about him. The story is more about the characters trying to stop him. It’s an interesting and well-constructed plot that I got caught up in, more so than the relationship at times. It’s more detailed and better conceived than many series suspense books I’ve read lately. The characters’ investigation is intriguing to follow, as they methodically examine the villain’s past victims and try to figure out his motives and why he chose the women he did. Meanwhile, the author offers scenes from the villain’s point of view as he matches every move they make with one of his own, constantly trying to thwart their efforts to stop him. These scenes give some good insight into the character without giving away the whole story and nicely add to the tension of the plot.
The characters are sympathetic and I liked them all. At the same time, Luci’s torment is never as affecting as it should be, and the resolution felt too fast and easy for something that had been torturing her for so many years. The romance takes a while to build, but is still sweet. It’s an unrequited love type of story, as Dom always had feelings for her and they finally discover each other here.
Like many books that are part of a series, this one begins and ends with a flood of characters from previous books or sure to appear in future ones. It has that “roll call” feeling, where these people show up just long enough to remind the reader of their existence before shuffling off stage. It’s as annoying as usual, and the first chapter (after a good prologue) is somewhat slow and hard to get into as a result. Fortunately, once that business is taken care of, these characters and their story are allowed to take center stage and it focuses solely on them. The book ends on a cliffhanger involving one of the other characters in the series to set up another book. It may stoke reader interest in the next book, but adds nothing to this one.
While some aspects could have been stronger, Pride of a Hunter is a good balance of character-driven romance and suspense. The suspense aspect is intriguing and atypical, the characters are warm, and the relationships are sweet. This is one of the better series romances I’ve read in a while, an engaging and ultimately satisfying read.