I had some reservations about this book, largely because of the fact that the heroine is an ex-convict recently released from prison for killing someone. To my pleasant surprise, Senseless took this and made it work.
Of course, Eva Rayburn isn’t actually a cold-blooded murderer. Ten years ago, she was raped and was convicted for killing her rapist — even though she doesn’t remember anything after her attack, until both she and her (now dead) attacker are pulled from a burning building. She spent ten years in prison for manslaughter (in what is probably the worst trial outcome ever), and has emerged looking to start a new life. But just six months after her release, someone starts murdering the sorority sisters who testified against her — and burning the same mark that Eva was burned with during her attack, a four-pointed star, into their skin.
Detective Deacon Garrison is in charge of the case, and while he quickly dismisses Eva as a suspect, he knows that the current murders are connected to the famous “Sorority House Murder” of ten years ago. As he investigates, more details about that night emerge and cast doubt on everything that had been “revealed” during Eva’s trial.
This book is more suspense than romance, but there was enough of a connection between Garrison and Eva to sustain its Romantic Suspense categorization. Both are interesting characters, believable and well developed. I was very glad that Garrison didn’t drag out his suspicion of Eva, but neither did he dismiss her just because he was attracted to her. They took things slow; Eva had to warm up to him (she’s understandably wary of cops), and they came to trust each other at a natural pace. Eva was a particularly strong character; she’s no damsel in distress, she’s independent and maybe a bit too stubborn; but I had a lot of respect for her.
The murder mystery isn’t particularly unusual or unique. It’s fairly standard RS fare: a crazy serial killer going after some group of people for some insane obsession, leaving our heroine for last, to be saved by a cop hero. That said, it was one of the better-done versions of this plot that I’ve read. Some of the more unbelievable aspects were explained fairly well, like why she was convicted or why there were so many coincidences of relationships.
One of my few disappointments was that Eva’s relationship with her sister was left undeveloped, and important issues were left untouched. However, it appears there will be a sequel featuring her sister, and Garrison’s partner. As Senseless was a really good suspenseful story with just enough romance, I’ll be sure to look for Mary Burton’s next novel.