A steamy Southern summer. A beautiful ex-con. A burned-out cop.

And a killer on the loose.

Wrongly convicted of her husband’s brutal murder, Kathryn McAllister has spent the last four years in a North Carolina prison for a crime she didn’t commit. When new evidence leads to the overturn of her conviction, Kathryn returns to the sleepy little town of Elba, North Carolina, determined to clear her name and find Michael McAllister’s killer.

Police chief Nick DiSalvo has come to Elba to bury himself someplace where he can forget his past and pretend he was born the day he drove into town. His plan is working until Kathryn McAllister walks through the door of his office, hell-bent on justice.

Drawn to each other by an irresistible heat, Nick and Kat are at cross-purposes. He wants her out of his hair; she wants to bag a killer. When the sizzling attraction between them explodes into full-blown passion, they discover that in this picturesque Southern town of many secrets, nothing is as it appears. As they draw nearer to discovering the identity of Michael McAllister’s killer, they unearth a secret so terrible that one individual would stop at nothing—including killing again—to keep them from uncovering it.

3.5 stars!

As a huge fan of this author’s Jackson Falls series, I was really curious to see how much I’d like her latest romantic suspense book. While I ended up enjoying it overall, I can’t help but be a little bit disappointed. I’ve come to know this author who takes the time and book space to give her stories depth, evoke emotion, and develop character relationships. Sadly, all three were missing in this book. Nevertheless, I did like the suspense aspect of the story; it’s just the romance part that completely fell flat for me.****************************The book starts off with a harrowing prologue that leads up to Michael McAllister’s murder and how his wife (the heroine) is accused of killing him. Fast forward 4 years and a hardened Kathryn McAllister walks free from prison after new evidence is presented that overturns her conviction. She heads back to town with one goal: nab Michael’s real killer and clear her name once and for all despite her lawyer encouraging her not to.

New police chief Nick DiSalvo is at a crossroads in both his personal and work life. Only a few days on the job and he runs into Kathryn who is intent on dragging out the old murder case for reinvestigation. It’s pretty much hate at first sight when they meet as Kathryn is cold and bitter from her years in prison while Nick recognizes her as the talked-about murderess. But after multiple break-ins and an attempt on her life, Kathryn starts to warm up to Nick as he seems to be one of the few people who genuinely wants to help her.****************************Let’s start with the positive – I adored the setting for this book. It’s contemporary but this small southern town still has the mores of people in the time of the Civil War where racial discrimination was blatant. I loved that this book explored this little blast from the past and it added a nice quality to the story. I also thought the suspense part was great. There were a few twists I didn’t see coming at all and I liked how the author tied in history with the final reveal.And now for the bad part – to be blunt, the romance sucked. A few rolls in the hay does not constitute as ‘romance’ in my book. Kathryn was such a tough, unbreakable, yet deeply hurt woman so it’s hard for me to accept that she’s spill all her secrets and details about her personal life to Nick, a guy she barely knows in such a short time frame. On the other side, Nick is divorced and has a teenage daughter and is practically married to his job. There was no relationship development whatsoever. I get that in romantic suspense books a lot of the romance is dropped to focus on the suspense but the ‘I-love-yous’ were too unbelievable in this book. An epilogue would’ve helped but sadly there wasn’t one. This book has one of the most rushed endings I’ve ever read.Despite my gripes with the romance part, this book was unputdownable. It was gripping and I finished it in 2 hours. If you’re okay with more suspense than romance and want a super fast-paced read, this book is a good choice.