Review: The Dead Girl by Debra Webb

the dead girlTitle: The Dead Girl

Author: Debra Webb

Year of publication: Out today! The author kindly gave me a copy to read and review

The blurb: Former L.A. homicide detective Laney Holt walked away from big city crime after a shooting she couldn’t put behind her. With L.A. in her rear view mirror, she accepted the position of deputy chief of police in a small picturesque paradise called Shutter Lake. Nestled in a peaceful valley surrounded by the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Shutter Lake is the perfect small town filled with pleasant, charming folks. The crime rate in Shutter Lake is zero…at least until the dead girl is found. The shocking murder shakes the town to it’s very foundation.

Laney’s past comes back to haunt her as she delves into the investigation of who murdered beautiful, young Sylvia Cole. But Laney’s secrets aren’t the only ones revealed as one by one the cracks in this perfect town start to show and the facade of perfection slowly begins to breakdown.

Standalone or series: This is the first book in a four book mini-series, each one written by a different author. You will need to read all four in order, as together they form one big book.

The review: This is not a romance book, but a thriller/suspense book. However, the author is also a romance writer, which is how I came to be reading it. The Dead Girl is the first in a four book mini-series, one of which will be released weekly, and this series is off to a crackingly good start with this book.

Shutter Lake Deputy Laney Holt is a former LAPD homicide detective who moved there two years previously, after an incident she can’t move past. She’s never needed to use her skills in homicide before, until one day Shutter Lake resident Sylvia Cole is found murdered in her home. Sylvia was twenty-six and well known to everyone in the community, having started her own cleaning company at the age of eighteen. It seems impossible that anyone would want her dead, but as Laney and Chief of Police Griff McCabe start to examine the evidence and dig into Sylvia’s life, they learn that she had secrets. And she was in the business of learning other people’s secrets. Is this what got her killed?

Sylvia was hiding a large sum of cash in her home safe. She was seeing a man for sex on a regular basis, a man who denies all knowledge of it. She was having an affair with someone else. A senior high schooler had a crush on her. She was possibly involved in helping someone out of a very dangerous situation. The author sets the scene well; there are so many possible suspects that it’s hard to know who the guilty party is. It looks like each book is written from the POV of one of the town’s well-known women, so I’m interested to read the next three and find out who the killer is and why Sylvia’s life was ended.

If you like mystery and suspense books, then you should give this series a read. My little romance heart? Well, let’s just say I wouldn’t be unhappy if Laney hooks up with Griff 😉

Reluctant Hero by Debra Webb & Regan Black

reluctant hero

Title: Reluctant Hero

Authors: Debra Webb and Regan Black

Mills & Boon imprint: Intrigue

Year of publication: 2017

The heroine: Producer Rebecca Wallace

The hero: Former Army soldier/security expert Parker Lawton

The blurb: For security expert Parker Lawton, the anonymous threat is explosive. Return the gold stolen during his intelligence unit’s last mission – or they’ll each be hunted down. And when one of his men is killed just before meeting investigative reporter Rebecca Wallace, he must take her under his protection. But her persistence in getting the real story is even more dangerous – and irresistible.

For a dashing war hero, Parker is the most guilty-acting innocent man Becca has ever seen. But as her instincts and Parker’s skills home in on the truth, trusting the desire simmering between them could be their only chance – or the last move they’ll ever make.

Standalone or series: Part of the Gray Box series, but can be read as a standalone.

The review: I hate to say this, but… I really didn’t enjoy this book. So, someone is threatening the six men of an elite unit who supposedly stole gold in Iraq (they didn’t). Parker is one of the six men, and a list of their names is sent to Becca’s station. His man killed on his way to talk to someone wasn’t going to see Becca, because she’s not a reporter but a producer of a successful news show known for getting their facts straight before showing any reports. With one of his team dead and the next on the list seriously injured, it’s understandable that Parker is grieving and desperate to find out who is threatening them before someone else is hurt.

Parker rescues Becca from being kidnapped from some gala they’re both at, but what happens next is what ruined the book for me… he holds her against her will. He takes her to his place and locks her in a safe room he has because he wants her source. She doesn’t know who’s holding her (although she suspects it’s Parker from the get go). She has no idea of how long she’s there because there’s no window or clock, and he’s confiscated her laptop and phone. She doesn’t know if she’s going to be attacked or killed, and at one stage suspects the latter. She’s terrified. He knows all this because he’s watching her. He breaks into her apartment and packs a case for her, so she knows he’s been in her place. He’s answering her work emails, pretending to be her, so nobody will suspect something is wrong (he’s using a family emergency as a cover story).

He continues to tell himself that he can’t keep her hostage, and yet he does. He knows she can help him, but convinces himself she’s safer locked in a small room with no clue as to what’s going on. While it’s true that she is safe there, she doesn’t know that. She doesn’t know what her captor wants or what he’s going to do, although she has her suspicions. Yet pretty much as soon as he lets her out of the room, she stays glued to his side. In fact, while she’s in the room, he ties her hands together and holds them, and she feels… desire. Uh, what? Even if she felt the slightest bit of attraction to him (they’d met several times previously), surely being held hostage by this guy, regardless of his motives, would have been enough to dampen her ardour. Apparently not.

So they’re now both trying to outrun an assassin and work out who’s trying to frame the soldiers. They get there in the end, but she ends up spending a week in hospital. He whisks her away after she’s released and proposes. So they’ve known each other less than a week and spent one night together, but he’s proposing.

I also noticed an error: Parker’s friend Sam interrupts them trying to get it on the first time and tells them to come upstairs, and they immediately go down to the lab… where everyone’s waiting for them. Not upstairs, as they were instructed!

I love the cover, but it doesn’t depict the characters of the book. Parker is described as having short hair and Becca is a redhead. Nope, not a winner for me, sadly.