Keeping You In Suspense

I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately — many of the books aren’t ones I’ve chosen to read, but had to read because I’ve been judging 3 separate contests. I’ve found some real gems that have made me look for more by that author and I’ve read some books that…well, weren’t as engaging. (Remember reading is SUBJECTIVE–what I like, you may not, and vice versa.)

**EDITED** The contest is now closed. Thank you to everyone who took the time to comment or help promote it via Facebook and Twitter.

So when I do get to read a book I chose to pick up on my own, and I find myself sucked into the world, I’m doubly pleased. There are several that have landed on my keeper shelf so far this year:  Shiloh Walker’s Ash Trilogy (three books!), Julie James’ About That Night, and Anne Calhoun’s Liberating Lacey.  And my favorite of them all, Patricia Brigg’s Fair Game. Hmm, I want to do them all justice so I think I’ll give them each their own special day in the coming weeks. Starting with…

Shiloh Walker's Ash Trilogy

Shiloh Walker’s trilogy If You Hear Her, If You See Her, If You Know Her.  Sexy   romance with chilling suspense.  Shiloh’s stories had to juggle the romance between her hero and heroine while maintaining the suspense of the local serial killer and his victims. One of the differences in her trilogy from most other romantic suspenses I’ve read, is that the killer is not arrested at the end of book one. Their identity isn’t revealed until two thirds of the way through book three. From what I’ve read, she caught a little flack from readers who wanted an ending at the first book, and while it surprised me, I didn’t mind.  I’ve read other thrillers where the killer remains at large or unknown throughout the series — heck, Moriarty in the Sherlock Holmes books, anyone?  But if you’re expecting the killer to be arrested and tied up in a bow for the prosecutor at the end of book one, be warned. You have to read all three books for that to happen.

I really enjoyed how Shiloh’s heroine Lena in If You Hear Her is blind but capable and independent.  I loved Ezra (the hero) and I want a dog just like Puck. (though not for the reason Lena has to have him.)  I was a little worried about the heroine in If You See Her — Hope Carson was a battered wife who has finally managed to escape her abusive cop husband.  Since I used to work with a lot of battered women, I know how strong they can be, but how it takes time to find their strength again after being convinced they’re useless.  So I worried that Hope would be portrayed as the stereotypical dishrag. Shiloh “got it” and Hope, like the women I used to teach, is finding her independence and demanding she be treated with respect.  I wanted to like Remy more than I did — at the very start he falls for the ex-husband’s lies about Hope’s sanity, which given that the husband is a cop, is understandable but I wanted to box his ears on occasion. Groveling does occur, which redeems him.

Shiloh put twists and turns into the suspense — while in the first book there was one character that she obviously pointed to as the killer and I knew that it was too obvious, she did indeed twist the story and sent it off in a different direction.  So then I had a couple other suspects in mind. And yeah, they had to be discarded as suspects as we moved through the series. Sometimes I like knowing who the killer is and wondering how they’re going to get caught (like in the old television show Colombo) and others I like not knowing and trying to figure it out as I read along. (There’s a certain smug satisfaction to being able to say “I knew it!” at the end. Especially if others haven’t guessed.)  By the time I got to the end of If You Know Her, I’d pretty much eliminated all the other suspects I had and there wasn’t much of a surprise (to me) about who the killer is (but remember it took 2 2/3rds books before I got there!) Plus there’s a really interesting twist at the end about their motivation that sticks with me even now. I love when a book can do that to me.

I think I need to reread the entire series now so I can pick up the clues and hints I missed the first time around.

So I’m going to give away the entire trilogy to one lucky commenter (in paperback, courtesy of Tell me whether you’re the type of romantic suspense reader who likes to know the killer straight off or if you prefer to guess who it is.

The contest is open internationally to wherever delivers.  Oh, and I’ll leave the contest open until Sunday night, for those who do their blog reading on the weekends. I’ll announce the winner next Monday.