I'm in a serious reviewing slump. One of my New Year's reading promises to myself was to track my books in 2007. So... I've read 14 books this month and by my count, I've reviewed.. well, ok... 2 ½. I just haven't felt like writing anything up. So, you get the short version once again. And, once again, you get my apologies for a job half done.
But, thanks to Lori H. for sending me these 4 books by Karen Rose. As you all know, I adore romantic suspense. Lovelovelove it! So, I was thrilled to get these books about which I'd heard so many wonderful things. I was not disappointed. And the best part about these books is that even though they are all inter-related in some small way, they are truly stand-alones in that each one is its own story. You can read each one and never really know that there were books before or after it. I'm listing them in order for all you series sluts out there who won't take my word for it...
Caroline is an abused wife who runs away and creates a new life for herself and her son. I absolutely loved Tom, the son. Here's an example of how the child is not an extraneous part of the story, existing to be "cute." And trust me - no 14 year old boy with a chip on his shoulder is "cute." He is a main character, truly integrated into the story in a major and important way, yet not detracting from the love story. I loved how Caroline stood up to Max. It showed her growth. The supporting characters were all strong. I enjoyed the SBI Agent Thatcher and Lieutenant Ross. I liked the supportive but completely professional relationship they had. This book was amazingly suspenseful, intense, sad, and scary, even though we knew from page 1 who the antagonist was. Terrific read.
Have You Seen Her?
This is Thatcher's book. His terrifying experience from the first book is really the only relevant piece of information necessary here, but it is retold in this book, so even if you don't read book 1, you are safe. But you should read book 1, just because it's so dang good. Anyway... Someone is abducting and killing teenage girls. Thatcher is assigned to the case. This book actually had some more humor in it than the 1st one (which y'all know I love) - Steven's middle son is quite the con artist, and the relationship between him and Steven's aunt gave me some well deserved chuckles. Jenna was kickass in her own way, in the way that she stood up to Steven. She had her own heartache to contend with as well. The funny/sweet moments between the two of them made the book tender and poignant, and I absolutely loved it.
I'm Watching You
I'm Watching You is totally unrelated to the first 2 books. Feel good about reading this one without having read the first two, ok? Abe Reagan is a widower cop whose wife took a bullet meant for him. Kristen is a former rape victim who now prosecutes rapists. Someone is killing offenders who got away "just for Kristen". Very creepy. It's a great story. Kristen and Abe each have their past hurts to get over, and they rediscover love while they are on the hunt for the killer. I really enjoyed the big, extended, accepting Reagan family. I guessed this whodunnit, but that didn't detract from the story for me one iota. I'm loving Karen Rose.
Nothing to Fear
Nothing to Fear brings together characters from Books 1 & 3 as supporting characters and one of the supporting characters from book 1 as the heroine. Dana Dupinsky runs a shelter for abused women and is the best friend of the heroine from book 1. Love the hero's name. Ethan Buchanan. I don't know why it strikes me so; it just does. Interestingly, the antagonist here is a woman, and as in book 1, you know who she is from the beginning. However, unlike in Don't Tell, her motives are revealed slowly, and each revelation is a bit more horrifying than the last. Two characters, one known from book 1 and one Ethan's 12 year old godson, are kidnapped and although we see them periodically throughout the book, we don't know their ultimate fate. We see the killer murder so many without a conscience that the reader is never sure what fate will befall these two characters. As in Don't Tell, knowing the identity of the killer doesn't detract from the intensity and suspense at all.
What did I like? I like that although these books are all connected, they all stand alone. You do NOT need to read one before the other or read any of them at all to understand what is going on in any of the others. Yes, it helps in the "background" arena, such as in book 2, knowing what happened to Thatcher's son in book 1, but it's totally unnecessary.
What else do I like about Rose's books? The characterization is excellent. Each and every one is detailed and appropriate for the character's involvement in the story. Not too much for the supporting characters, but not too little for their importance. I love that her heroes are flawed, as are her heroines. It's not all about healing one character while the other does all the supporting. Let's face it - nobody gets to be our age without bringing along their baggage. Rose's characters just seem to have a tad more carry-ons than the flight allows.
I really liked her voice. Nothing superfluous here. You get multiple perspectives - that of the killer, and that of each of the protagonists, including supporting characters, but the book is not overwhelmed by the multiple POVs. They serve to clarify the story and give direction.
Overall, these are wonderfully written, tight, intense, romantic suspense books. Heavy on the romantic and heavy, if not on the suspense for the reader, certainly on the intensity of the emotions that the suspense brings for the characters. I do believe I've found me another autobuy.
There is one more book already released - You Can't Hide - about Abe Reagan's brother. Then Rose has a February release about Abe's partner Mia called Count to Ten. Plus, she has a novella in an antho with Annie Solomon and Carla Cassidy. Her web site is www.karenrosebooks.com.