Rating: 4 Stars
Length: 528 Pages, 8129 Locations
Formats: Mass Market Paperback, Kindle
Chilling Madness and Sizzling Heat
Psychiatrist Tess Ciccotelli isn't well liked by the cops after testimony she once provided sent a child killer to a psych ward instead of under a needle. Maybe that's why Aidan Reagan gives her such a cold shoulder and shows such disdain for her when she shows up at the scene of a suicide of one of her patients. Tess, stricken by the loss of her patient, diligently ignores him, understanding his hostility and having too hard a time coping with the tragedy of her patient's death to worry about Reagan.
When evidence in the victim's apartment suggests a systematic and malignant psychological war waged against a fragile psyche and the instruments of that war all point right to Tess, she can no longer ignore Reagan or his hostile questions and suspicion. Especially when he's interrogating her. But a killer isn't done stirring the pot and another of Tess' patients takes his own life. Suddenly Tess is listening to voice recordings that sound enough like her to fool her own mother...from phone calls she didn't make, and her fingerprints are showing up in places she's never been. The body count rises quickly, brutally, and it becomes painfully clear to Aidan that Tess isn't a sick, manipulative killer. She's the true target of a vicious predator and no one around her is safe - least of all Tess.
The road is long and winding, treacherous and hazardous, but Karen Rose always manages to make it truly captivating as she blends crime and passion, twists characters' minds and hearts, creates villains and heroes, tragedy and love. You Can't Hide was both difficult to read and hard to put down, as any solid romantic suspense should be. Grimly entertaining, passionate and heated, it kept me up way past my bedtime. And I enjoyed almost every exhaustion-inducing moment of it (the effects of a full pot of coffee the morning after notwithstanding).
The plot was well developed and paced, full of twists and turns that kept me on my toes. I enjoyed the tension Rose so adroitly created - and appreciated that I didn't have a clue until the end how all the pieces fit together. This one wasn't easy to suss out as I was reading, and I prefer books that can keep me guessing until the evidence stacks up nice and high. I also enjoyed Tess' character, though I have to admit, it was Aidan that most impressed me. Rose manages to offer up protagonists who are inherently good at their core, but with realistic flaws and peccadilloes that make them easy to relate to, and just a few personal scars or demons to add some depth and angst. Aidan resonated with me in that manner. I admire the attention to detail put into his character and how that played out in the story.
There were a couple of things that I wasn't quite as enamored with. Most of them are related to my personal reading preferences. I prefer romances that develop over more than just a few frantic and stressful days. I have a hard time sustaining belief in one that slams solidly into place in that short a time frame. The Tess and Aidan pendulum swung quite the relationship distance after a very short acquaintance and I wish it had developed differently. It's not that I have any complaints with how it was written technically - it was actually a very potent plot thread filled with depth and emotion. I just wish it had been spread out over a longer time frame.
I also had an issue or two with some of the ancillary plot threads that are quintessential Karen Rose, but in this book did less for me in adding depth to the characters and plot and more for distracting and weighing down the story. I didn't like the abrupt resolution to Tess' family estrangement and had some real issues with her mother's choices and behavior. I didn't think there was enough buildup to that family thread, nor do I think it was woven into the overall story arc all that well. So too the storyline with Joanna, who I found to be mostly despicable and unsympathetic, and reading about her actions was tedious.
On the plus side, the sense of continuity and connection in Rose's books is one of the strongest draws for me as a reader. While each are stand-alone novels, the books are connected through the characters created to inhabit them, adding an almost comforting relationship between each book that gives the reader a sense of a series without limiting the stories to an overall arc. I find the stand-alone plots combined with the familiarity of characters to be exceptionally appealing, particularly for this genre, and Rose masters it with aplomb. I haven't been reading her books in order, so I can assure with authority that it's not necessary. Not doing so hasn't hampered my enjoyment of any of them so far. I have to admit, though, my next Rose book is going to be her earliest, Don't Tell, and I'll probably read sequentially from then on, but that's more personal preference than necessity.
In each book Karen Rose provides a twisted psychological thriller and a strong, sizzling romance, blending them together nearly flawlessly and maintaining a good, healthy balance between the two aspects. I haven't come across another author in quite a while that so consistently manages such a feat. I'm looking forward to reading more.