GUARDING SUZANNAH is relatively simple story. Suzannah Phelps is a high powered defense attorney who practically never loses a case. It opens with Detective John Quigley (Quigg) watching her tear to shreds the latest police officer’s case on the stand. He isn’t sure why he’s there except that he has been totally mesmerized by the Ice Princess since seeing her a couple of years prior. He knew she was completely out of his league, highly intelligent, daughter of a judge, and wealthy beyond anything a simple detective’s salary could provide. For some reason Quigg followed her and when he came up behind her after retrieving her dropped bag he couldn’t help but notice the stark terror in her eyes. After a few testy words she left, and Quigg decided to follow her and watched as she threw something in a dumpster. Fishing it out he discovered a dead bouquet of flowers. It was enough to rattle his cage and he couldn’t let it go. Later he discovered she was being stalked but would not involve the police as she knew that the brotherhood (of cops) would not be sympathetic to her plight, in fact they might even be the culprit.
*** Did I say relatively simple? Holy cow - this was an AMAZING read! The twists and turns of this romantic suspense novel had me tied up in knots and hating to put this book aside to sleep! The ending was a super sized TWIST I did not see coming as Ms. Wilson threw in a plethora of red herrings that had me saying ‘aha’ only to later have me shaking my head wondering again - ‘okay we’ve eliminated this one now who could our villain possibly be?’
One of the things I also found unique was the setting of New Brunswick and the detailed picture of their court system (robes, etc.) and of how the daily life in New Brunswick differed from the USA. Very interesting. Naturally, Suzannah and John do fall in love, but even that relationship had more bumps and grinds then a Six Flags roller coaster ride! Although I have to say that the inclusion of John’s dog, Bandy added a lot of humor and zip to the explosive sensual chemistry between the leads which was extremely well done and not crass or sexist.
As to the Suspense portion - and I admit to loving Romantic Suspense - I would have to give this author an A+ for both ingenuity, pacing, and overall excitement. I have long been a fan of the work of award winning author Linda Howard and the other great suspense authors, and I have to say that Norah Wilson’s GUARDING SUZANNAH sits right up there with the best of them. For me I must recommend this book highly and urge all lovers of well-written Romantic Suspense to definitely give this author a look - see. I am sure you won’t be disappointed.
Marilyn Rondeau, for www.ck2skwipsandkritiques.com
Grace Stevens is desperate to track down her ex-husband Mark who absconded with their son. In delving into her ex’s background Grace discovered she never really knew the man who apparently led a dual life as a high-ranking special forces agent. One thing Grace discovered was that Mark had worked closely with a man she hoped never to see again - Keith King. Keith was a childhood tormentor who had ruined her family’s life. Grace was going to have to swallow her hatred for the man and plead for Keith’s assistance in helping to find her son.
*** Author Cynthia Justlin has debuted with a fast-paced action suspense thriller that will have readers on the edge of their seat from beginning to end. In my review process I always think on a book a day or two after reading before writing and thought I’d found a major flaw in the plotting. I re-read the beginning and found to my delight that I was wrong - Ms. Justlin’s plotting was flawless!
The author created the male protagonist, Keith King to be almost as desperate as Grace in helping to find her ex-husband - yes, he would promise to help her rescue her son but selfishly he also needed to clear himself of a frame-up to save his own career. Ms Justlin also left Keith vulnerable and unaware of who Grace really was and of their long ago connection. Keith and Grace chased down every nibble of a lead and clues to find her son. Always keeping each other at arms length, even as they became more and more physically attracted to one another, Grace had to constantly remind herself of why she could never trust this man, that a leopard could never change his spots.
Justlin wrote with an exquisite amount of emotion a mother endured, as well as keeping the suspense at a fever pitch level throughout the story. The fear and emotion a mother has in finding her child, not to mention that said child was asthmatic without medication, created a heart stopping emotional pull as each clue in locating him would bring them so close only to be too late.
Justlin defined a complex man like Keith extremely well as the un-loved bad-boy teenager whose entrance into the military had been a defining moment in his life, giving him back his honor and self-respect. She also gave great depth to Grace in allowing her to let go of the past and the guilt she’d carried around most of her life with regard to her sister Becca’s frailties.
The romance was sensual, the suspense thrilling, and HER OWN BEST ENEMY is a book I can highly recommend for those who like to indulge in roller coaster, romantic suspense thrillers.
Marilyn Rondeau for www.ck2skwipsandkritiques.com