Fen Dexter’s quiet life on the idyllic California coast is interrupted one stormy night when a blood-covered man shows up on her doorstep, claiming to have had a car accident. He tells her that he is on his way to San Francisco to help the police solve the murder of his fiancé. Unable to make it to the hospital because of the storm, he stays the night at Fen’s, and the attraction between them is obvious. The next morning he heads to the hospital where Fen’s niece, Vivi, is an ER doctor. Vivi is treating the most recent target of a serial killer whose signature move is to leave a note saying “Please Don’t Tell” taped across his victims’ mouths. When Fen’s mysterious stranger comes to Vivi to have his wounds stitched she agrees to set him up to talk with the police about his fiancé. Who is this man, really? What does he want with Fen and her family? And will they live long enough to uncover the truth?
I just finished the book and realized why I don’t really read mystery novels. This isn’t really a mystery, it’s a suspense romance, but there’s a murder and some of the focused on characters are cops. It has elements from what I expect in cop-related mystery novels that turn me off of it. It was a little hard for me to get through until near the end when the plot rises suddenly with the official unveiling of who-dun-it. Though who the murderer is wasn’t a huge surprise to me, it got the ball rolling in a way that is more familiar for me. I need that in the beginning to get me into a book – perhaps that’s why horror tends to be more my genre.
Ignoring all my personal genre issues, the novel itself is fabulous. It is a bit slow to start, that’s not just my genre preference, but when Alex is finally on his way it picks up a bit. It follows a dynamic female cast, has a strong single parent (though not biological, Fen does raise JC and Vivi herself), and shows women supporting women. The romance between the female leads and their love interests doesn’t lead the story. It comes naturally and each develops differently. And to some, not at all. There is self love and character growth. And the love between the women, the family dynamic, is beautiful. I don’t relate to the characters strongly, but they’re well developed. Even the side female characters were awesome. I’m a tad in love with the barkeep. She can be my book girlfriend for this novel and I would love to have a spin off of her story.
Anyhow, he smelled good, sort of like lemonade.