The other day, I stepped out of my comfort zone with a romantic suspense novel written by an author I’ve never heard of before. If you read my post about why I usually just read historical romance novels, then you know why I don’t usually do that. I’ve just gotten a little to cynical when it comes to reading romantic suspense. I’m honestly not sure if it was worth it. While I did enjoy Ms. Burton’s writing style, there was a big twist at the end of the book that I just did not like and don’t think it made sense.
Leah Carson nearly died four years ago when her ex husband stabbed her multiple times and left her for dead. Now, she’s finally starting to let people in and get her life back. Then, she discovers a dead body of a friend, who was killed in the exact same manner her ex tried to kill her, and she starts to believe that her ex isn’t as dead as everyone thinks. Alex Morgan is an agent of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and he thinks that Leah might be right, setting out to prove it.
First, I want to say that this really isn’t romantic suspense–it is a thriller with romantic elements and those elements were so few and far between that I didn’t feel as if they were at all necessary to the plot. The sex scene sure as hell felt gratuitous, as if someone told Ms. Burton that she needed to put it in just to check off some box. Leah and Alex didn’t know each other very well and they’d only kissed twice before they ended up in bed together (at about 80% through the book). I would have preferred it if they hadn’t gone so far and only had Leah open to having a relationship for the first time since her attack.
As a thriller, this worked really well. Ms. Burton is very good at ratcheting up the readers’ anxiety level from page one. I was very nervous for Leah, despite knowing that everything would work out in the end (because how couldn’t it?). All the little things that the killer did to make Leah feel as if she was going crazy–missing car keys, a flat tire, bugs in her home–were the exact things that a stalker would do. I also liked the way Ms. Burton didn’t make it appear as if it is easy to prove stalking and abuse because it isn’t. For those that don’t know, I have a MS in Criminal Justice (that’s just sitting around while I work meaningless jobs) and one of my favorite classes was on Victimology. It was taught by the head of the Massachusetts Office for Victim Assistance (MOVA) and we talked a lot about how hard it is for stalking victims to even get a Restraining Order (until 2010, you could only get a TRO against a spouse). In one class, we listened to a 911 recording made by the 12 year old daughter of a woman whose husband had violated the TRO and gotten into the house with a gun. It was one of the most unnerving things I ever heard–while this poor kid was sobbing to the 911 operator, you could hear the gun shots as her mother was being murdered by her father. In that case, it took years for the woman to get the restraining order. If I remember correctly, it wasn’t until her ex husband showed up at her daughters’ school to pick them up that any help from the police was given to her.
With Leah, she did seem to have an easier time proving the stalking because she wrote everything down, documenting anything that could possibly have been done by her ex husband. However, she always had trouble convince people outside of the law enforcement community that she wasn’t nuts. There were several scenes in which people brushed her off because they thought she’d lost her mind. Alex was the only person who didn’t think she was off the deep end because his instincts told him that she was right–that Philip was alive and back to finish what he started just in time for their anniversary.
Up until about 90% through with the book, I was really enjoying it, but that’s when the twist showed up and I didn’t think it made much sense. There is no way for me to explain why I feel this way without completely spoiling the ending. I tried coming up with ways to be vague about it, but it just isn’t possible. Just know that this twist is most likely going to change how you saw the rest of the book. It will literally color everything you read from the killer’s POV and make you wonder how much of the ending Ms. Burton knew before she wrote the book because it actually felt as if she was flying by the seat of her pants. Unfortunately, I have to downgrade my rating because of this, although it doesn’t stop me from wanting to find her backlist, so I can check out her other books, starting with the other two books in this series (this is the 3rd book in the Morgans of Nashville Series).
3.5 Stars (4 Before the Twist)
I’ll Never Let You Go is available for Pre-Order and will be released on October 27th.