I’m an aficionado of creepy house stories, so that was the very first thing I thought of when I saw “Location Location Location” as a prompt. I tried a couple of gothics that didn’t quite do it for me, and then as I combed through my books, I saw Shattered Haven. The mention of a house containing a code inside caught my eye. Perhaps I had a good old house story after all.
After the double whammy of being widowed young and learning that her husband had a criminal history she never knew, Allison Winchester set out for Cedar Key, Florida. She had happy memories of an old family house and she was able to recover the battered old property at a tax sale. Cedar Key held happy childhood memories for her and it seemed like a good place to start over.
I liked that Allison seemed to have more backbone than the average put-upon heroine. She’s been through something terrible, but she also had the courage to sail her boat down the East Coast to Florida and set up shop as a charter captain. Romance has gotten broader and more diverse over the years, but that still isn’t the usual romance heroine occupation.
In keeping with her life as a boat captain, Allison is fairly down to earth and no-frills, and I liked seeing how she had created a life that seemed to suit who she is. Throughout the story, Allison goes through some harrowing adventures, but she also seems to be a person learning how to trust others again and growing ever more comfortable in her own skin. I liked that about her.
In terms of suspense plotting, this one is basically a relentless stalker story. The action in this book kicks into high gear when Allison wakes up one night to discover an intruder in her home who gets away. Shortly thereafter, Allison’s home is ransacked. The thief is clearly looking for something specific, but it’s unclear what that might be. Fairly early on in the book, Allison finds what appears to be a coded message hidden in the home. It becomes obvious that if Allison wants to get to the bottom of what is happening, she will need to figure out that message, why it’s in her home and what about it might be important to someone.
Luckily for Allison, she isn’t alone in her quest. Not only has she clearly made friends in town, but an injured ex-detective named Blake Townsend can’t help getting involved. He’s relaxing in the Keys while recovering from injuries, but he also has the ability to puzzle through some of what is going on – and naturally, he can’t help feeling protective of Allison.
Blake and Allison work well together and their easy companionship turns into friendship and attraction as is the case in many a story. While the path to love may be a bit easy to predict in this book, that doesn’t mean it isn’t a joy to read. I enjoyed the mystery plot in this book and while there is a cloud of danger hanging over Allison, the plot doesn’t move so quickly that there is no room for feelings to develop.
This one is a Love Inspired Suspense novel, so be aware that there is some talk of church and faith sprinkled throughout the book. This may resonate with some readers, but I know it’s a touchy subject for others. With the Love Inspired category lines, the inspirational content can be all over the map. For Shattered Haven, I’d say that Allison’s love for her church gets mentioned and her faith is clearly important to her. However, when the topic of Allison’s Christian beliefs comes up in conversations, it’s not of the judgmental variety, but more an expression of how her faith has helped her get through tough times.
This book balanced romance and suspense well and, aside from the fact that the villain was a little on the obvious side, it was a pretty solid read. If you enjoy romantic suspense, you may want to try this one out. The author has clearly spent time in the beach towns of Florida and I liked seeing it through her eyes in this novel since it’s a place I dream of seeing.
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I enjoy spending as much time as I can between the covers of a book, traveling through time and around the world. When I'm not having adventures with fictional characters, I'm an attorney in Virginia and I love just hanging out with my husband, little man, and the cat who rules our house.