by Linda Winfree, contemporary (2007)
Samhain Publishing, $6.50, ISBN 1-59998-705-8
We are back in the South - right into the heart of Chandler County in Georgia this time around - in Linda Winfree's third installment in her Hearts Of The South series. Hold On To Me has women getting killed all over the place, giving investigator Lamar "Tick" Calvert a headache of all headaches. Life is just getting interesting for the poor fellow however. When one of the women murdered turned out to be the daughter of a Senator, the FBI's Child Abduction and Serial Killer Unit are finally galvanized to send someone down to investigate the case. Moral of the day to serial killers everywhere: don't kill Republicans - they own the law. Everyone else is fair game. Anyway, as this stories tend to be, the agent in question is Caitlin Falconetti, Tick's ex-girlfriend.
Hold On To Me isn't anything that I haven't read before, but it's a solidly written and pretty entertaining read. The pacing is good and there is a nicely maintained balance between the suspense and the romantic aspects of the story without one overshadowing the other. The main characters are pretty good too. I like Tick. He isn't all sunshine and cheer, but he is not some self-absorbed angst-ridden fellow. Instead, he is just a man trying his best to be Captain America when it comes to his job and I have to adore him for that. He also isn't dumb or stubborn when it comes to Caitlin.
However, Caitlin's Big Secret that caused her to break up with Tick all those while ago is not my favorite part of the story. I can understand how her secret can affect a relationship, but what I don't like is how she, like every contrived creature in a romance novel who thinks being a martyr is the best job ever, decides to break off the relationship without telling Tick the reason why for his own good. It's such a tired plot device. Still, Tick being around her makes her a somewhat decent heroine although the way she keeps trying to become a martyr really gets on my nerves.
Hold On To Me is a most readable with the romance and suspense coexisting very well in the story. There are many aspects of it that follow a typical romantic suspense formula, but Ms Winfree has put together a solidly enjoyable tale out of the whole thing. That's pretty good enough for me in this case.
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