Silver Falls
Grade : B-

When I think dark, angsty heroes, Anne Stuart's name comes to mind first. She's created some of the darkest alpha heroes I've ever come across and, while I probably wouldn't like some of them in real life, I lap them up in fiction. In Silver Falls, she tells a very eerie tale about a serial killer and, even as the reader thinks she has identified the hero, the author has the ability to make you question your certainty at least once or twice. Were it not for the unbelievably doormat-y qualities of the heroine, I would recommend this book unreservedly.

After years of wandering the world as a somewhat bohemian single mother, Rachel Middleton has finally married and moved to her husband David's hometown of Silver Falls, Washington. After years of being on her own, she finds herself adjusting to married life and the expectation that she transform herself into a conventional, demure faculty wife. Though I don't particularly think "conservative" when I think of the Pacific Northwest, it appears that the 1950s good little wife model is alive and well at Silver Falls College.

Even as Rachel is having difficulty fitting into her new role, strengthening her marriage, and helping her daughter adjust to having a new stepfather, two new stresses find their way into her life. First, she learns that her sedate, orderly husband has a much less conventional brother - and that brother has returned to Silver Falls after a long absence. Rachel meets Caleb Middleton in rather dramatic fashion at her father-in-law's home and, even as he disturbs her, he also intrigues her. The tension between David and Caleb, as well as the horrible stories Rachel hears about Caleb, worry her and, as killings start taking place in the area, Rachel feels as though she is in danger.

It becomes clear from the beginning that the Middletons are somehow tied to the killings in Silver Falls and, though readers will get an idea of what is happening relatively quickly, the revelations aren't immediate, so I won't spoil them here. Suffice it to say that two Middleton men are very interested in Rachel, and only one of them has her best interests at heart. I will also add that the author shows her skill by throwing little twists into the story that make one question one's judgment just a bit and wonder whether she is backing the right hero.

Though serial killer tales can often seem stale, this one manages to rise above the rest. The glimpses into the killer's head are not cursory and the reader gets a sometimes creepy understanding of what drives this seemingly charming but remorseless villain. Likewise, the author also builds her thriller by using clues that really do move the story along.

However, Rachel herself is quite the weak link in this tale. Though presented as a daring, unconventional woman, she seems to have transformed herself way too quickly. She apparently made a sudden decision to marry David based upon a desire for stability for her daughter, but her reasons for making this decision never seem to ring true. In addition, Rachel seems so thoroughly to have become a conventional, retro wife that her past feels unbelievable. I could not look at her as she exists within the story and actually see her as the person she supposedly was before coming to Silver Falls. If she really had so much spirit, she certainly hid it well and this lack of personality grated on my nerves. I could see why a killer in Silver Falls might pick Rachel as a target, but I couldn't for the life of me see why David or Caleb would find her remotely interesting.

Still, even with my annoyance over the heroine, I did find Silver Falls to be a cut above the usual serial killer tale. As always, Anne Stuart does a brilliant job of creating an atmosphere and the brooding deep grey feeling of Silver Falls fit the mood of the story quite well. Though not my favorite of her books, it is still worth reading.

Reviewed by Lynn Spencer
Grade : B-

Sensuality: Warm

Review Date : April 29, 2009

Publication Date: 2009/05

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Lynn Spencer

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.
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