Behind Closed Doors / Shannon McKenna. 2002
I've been reading alot of romantic suspense lately. And here I used to think I was such a die-hard historicals junkie. But since I've loved suspense novels since I was a teen, it really is a natural fit to move into romantic suspense. All the tension with a guaranteed HEA. Really, it doesn't get any better than that. Anyhow, I'm not sure where I saw the recommendation for this one, but I'm glad I was able to find it at the library. I'll be going back for the rest in the series for sure.
Raine Cameron is a shy, timid woman who suffers recurring nightmares that center on the suspicious death of her father. The nightmares plague her to the extent that she decides to go after her father's brother, Victor (whom she hasn't seen in 17 years), to see if she can uncover the truth. Unwittingly, she stumbles into the middle of a secret investigation by Seth Mackey who holds Victor partially responsible for the death of Seth's brother. Seth and Raine meet and there is an instant attraction between them.
As I said, Raine is timid and shy. Seth is domineering and crude. On the surface it sounds like a wallbanger waiting to happen. Instead we're treated to a journey of discovery as each of them grow and change as a result of meeting the other. Raine becomes strong and expressive; Seth reveals his tender side. There's this fabulous scene midway through the book where Raine is describing her pirate queen fantasy to Seth (and making him act it out) and the whole scene becomes a metaphor describing how they feel about one another and what they really want out of their relationship. I considered this book a rare treat in seeing 2 people with serious trust issues open up to one another. Naturally there are the inevitable bumps in the road (trust doesn't come that easily after all) and we do have that nasty Victor to worry about. Perhaps the only real flaw is that the entire book takes place in an extremely short span of time. Granted this is fiction, but I still find it hard to see all of this stuff happen so darn quickly. Shoot, if it makes me exhausted, how must our lead characters feel? But that's just a minor quibble. Basically it took me no time at all to become enthralled by the book and I found it hard to put down. It definitely rates an A for me.