A seamless read and as close to a keeper as I’ve got with romantic suspense in the last few years.
This review is part of the Australian Women Writers Challenge. Click here for a list of books I’ve read so far.
Allegra Greenwood’s career as a top-notch defence lawyer is threatened when she receives an anonymous letter threatening to reveal naked photos taken of her while she was at uni. She enlists the help of ex-SAS Commander Luke Nielson to recover the photographs and, when the threats escalate, to protect her life.
Romantic suspense isn’t my favourite subgenre, but Lee Christine’s launch title for Escape Publishing hits all the right buttons. The weakest plot point for me—Allegra’s moment of indiscretion in her early 20s—turns out to be fairly plausible, and the suspense plot relies more on the anticipation that bad things are about to happen than actual graphic violence.
Luke is a lovely hero. He has alpha traits—physically demanding job, best in his field, somewhat aggressive when insisting that Allegra is in more danger than she thinks—but he also respects Allegra’s decisions and trusts her to see reason, rather than bulldozing her into submission. If anything, Luke has a bit of a martyr complex, but he never gets too irritating or boring.
I’ll be annoying and admit that I picked the villain as soon as they appeared in the story and, for the most, part, I didn’t doubt that I was correct. This is a minor quibble, though, because once you’ve read enough books in the genre it’s fairly easy to spot the clues. To Christine’s credit, there is enough misdirection to make things interesting, and when the culprit is eventually revealed, my reaction was more I was right! rather than Duh.
Yay or nay?
In Safe Hands is about as close to a keeper as I’ve got with romantic suspense in the last few years. It fits solidly within romance genre conventions, unlike most other local romantic suspense books, which are usually more crime/suspense books with some romantic elements. It’s a seamless read—the prose is well crafted, the pacing is spot on and Christine calibrates the romance and suspense plots so that neither overshadows the other.
Who might enjoy it: Romance readers who don’t normally enjoy romantic suspense
Who might not enjoy it: Crime readers expecting a high body count
A free copy of this book was generously provided by Escape Publishing at their launch event.