Author: Kylie Brant
Read copy: eBook
Published: September 1, 2009
FIRST HE LEARNS YOUR DARKEST FEARS...
THEN HE MAKES YOU LIVE THEM.
With a serial rapist loose on the streets of Savannah, hotshot detective Ryne Robel needs all the help he can get for his task force. And he needs it now, before another woman falls victim. But Abbie Phillips isn't what he bargained for. Sent from an exclusive group of the best criminologists in the country, she's smart, fierce...and distracting. She may be a brilliant forensic profiler, but Ryne needs answers, not psychobabble and head games.
However, Abbie convinces him that head games are exactly what this elusive suspect is all about. The seemingly random acts of torture are actually calculated to match each victim's darkest fears. And the stakes are rising. While they study the devious psychopath, he's watching them—the next objects of his horrifying obsession.
Savannah is plagued by a sadistic serial rapist, later dubbed Nightmare Rapist, and the police task force assigned to the case is chasing ghosts around town. The guy is methodical, doesn’t leave any clues, and there appears not to be any link connecting his victims. Ryne Robel, ex-Boston homicide detective and head of the task force has finally gotten his wish – another investigator assigned to the case, but his hope quickly dwindles when Abbie Phillips enters the conference room. She doesn’t look like an investigator, she’s tiny and dainty. She actually isn’t an investigator, but an "outside consultant", a profiler Ryne’s boss hopes will be able to figure what makes the rapist tick and help put him away for good.
Despite his initial resistance at working with her, Ryne quickly develops a deep respect for Abbie and her "psychobabble BS" regarding the rapist and his methods. And something more. Their attraction is surprising and explosive in its intensity, even more so with their mutual painful pasts and dark secrets. And that same attraction could also prove a fatal distraction as the rapist is getting a little too close for comfort.
This intense, gripping, chilling, and fast-paced page-turner had (almost) all.
The cast of characters was great. I loved the leading pair in all their contrasting glory. Where she was small and dainty, he was tough and gruff, but both had quite a similar core of steel underneath...And secrets that shaped their lives, past and present. I liked their individual characters, how they worked together, and how they complimented each other. I also liked how their relationship progressed from initial animosity (on both parts) through respect for each other’s abilities and professionalism, explosive attraction to something steadier and stronger. I wouldn’t categorize it as love, since the pace the story (and the two of them) went through was quite grueling, but I guess they were on a good way there once it all ended. But most of all, I liked how they were equal to each other throughout the story; they might not have had the same skill set, but they acknowledged each other’s strengths, and worked very well together once that initial dislike passed. They were able to have actual conversation about serious topics (beside the investigation) without one of them treating the other as inferior or simpleminded. How refreshing.
If this story didn’t have the strong romantic (or whatever you want to call it) subplot smack in the middle of it, it could’ve easily be classified as a straightforward thriller with its hefty dose of police procedural, lab talk, different investigative angles and trajectories, and the chilling insights into the villain.
Romance or not, it would’ve worked either way, but with its romantic angle I can say, it was a more “rounded” story, covering every angle.
The pacing was spot-on, the speed slowly building as the story progressed and the villain started to unravel. I loved the voice and narrative style, giving the story a slight “edge”, keeping things gripping and intense throughout, the characterization was great (even with the supporting cast who didn’t appear there only to serve as backdrop to the main story). The suspense was gripping and nail-bite worthy with so many twists and turns to make your head spin.
The only thing that bothered me was the heroine’s sister driven subplot, that worked mostly to create additional conflict between h/H and to provide the big climax scene, and the slightly unsatisfying ending. After more than 300 pages everything was resolved and explained in a matter of paragraphs. After page upon page of plot twists and red herrings, the measly few pages and a rather deus ex machina resolution left a slightly bitter aftertaste.