Twenty-three years ago, Misty Banner was brutally slashed to death in her home in Virtue Falls, Washington. Her husband was convicted of the murder. Their four year old daughter Elizabeth witnessed the crime, but has no memory of the killing. Now, two decades later, Elizabeth is back in Virtue Falls. She soon discovers her father is innocent. The real killer is still out there. And her investigation has stirred dark and deadly resentments that could provoke in another bloody murder—her own—in this riveting novel from bestselling author Christina Dodd.

4.5 stars!!

I’m a big fan of this author’s historical romances so I thought to try out one of her contemporary works, especially since this one was a romantic suspense/mystery and I’m a huge sucker for those. Aside from her writing style, I wasn’t too sure what to expect from this book in particular, but let me just say that you won’t be worrying about your expectations once you start reading – the story will grab your attention from the start and though there may be a few times where there are too many details, the engaging plot quickly grabs your attention again. Overall, I liked the suspenseful storyline, the heartwarming second chance romance, and how fast-paced the book was – it kept things interesting.*********************Twenty three years ago, a 4 year old Elizabeth Banner witnessed her mother’s brutal murder and her father was convicted of the crime. Fast forward two decades and Elizabeth has become one of the most accomplished geologists of her time and an expert in studying rocks and natural disasters. Returning home to Virtue Falls to study earthquakes and tsunamis, Elizabeth encounters a series of events that eventually lead to buried secrets, secrets that expose a hole in her mother’s murder case and leave her in danger. With no one but an ex-husband and mother-in-law who actually cares about her, Elizabeth experiences de-ja-vu all over again as she struggles to reconcile her horrid past with her uncertain future.

Dedicated FBI agent and ex-husband to Elizabeth, Garik Jacobsen finds out that she’s in danger and hurries to Virtue Falls to protect her. Though consenting to their divorce, Garik still harbors strong feelings for Elizabeth and would sacrifice anything just to make sure she’s safe. He’s deeply tortured and troubled by his past and the fact that he doesn’t let Elizabeth in to that part of his life creates a wedge between them, leading to their divorce. All grudges and complaints, however, are pushed aside as this couple work to uncover the mystery and truth behind the murder case and find the real killer.*********************I honestly expected to loathe Elizabeth’s character. She was unfeeling, only passionate about her profession and it was hard in the beginning to see her brush aside Garik so easily and effortlessly. As I read, however, I think I started to understand and connect to her character on a much deeper level. You see, I LOVE smart heroines. Heroines that don’t think with their libido and aren’t simpering ninnies around the hero. I actually think it was the author’s purpose to introduce this aloof, unfeeling woman and through her experiences in the book and her deep love for her husband (though she tries to hide it), show how an emotionally scarred Elizabeth could trust and have a second chance at her marriage. Her family was shattered since her mother’s murder and her father’s conviction and she had no one left. No one except Garik, who knew and loved her for the way she was and accepted her, flaws and all. Speaking of Garik, I adore this man! He scores a 10 out of 10 for my hero rating – sexy, attentive, protective, witty. I could use so many adjectives to describe him. My heart broke when I read about the guilt he harbored because of his past actions. Together, he and Elizabeth make such a great couple. They complement each other perfectly: fire and ice, passionate and logical. They had many issues to work through, but when they tackled their fears and fully opened up to one another, I was mentally cheering them on, ecstatic that they’d be able to work out all their problems and hopeful about a more permanent future for them.

I do have to stress that the romance part is secondary to the mystery and suspense. I would estimate a good 30% of the book is solely dedicated to their relationship development: that’s pretty decent considering this plot was elaborate and detailed. There’s not a whole lot of steam but then again, emotional intensity will always trump steam for me 

 The only thing that kept me from giving this book 5 stars was Kateri’s character. I simply just didn’t see the point of having her take up a couple of chapters. Elizabeth knew her but other than that she didn’t have a substantial part in the plot so I skimmed the parts with her in it.Aside from that one complaint and a few times where there were too many details that tempted me to skim, this book was pretty perfect for me. I finished it in one sitting (about 4 hours) and closed the book feeling pretty satisfied – definitely a great book to pick up if you love the romantic suspense genre!ARC provided by St. Martin’s Press via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.