Town manager Savannah Castillo is very much in control and it’s just the way she likes it. She runs a tight ship where she cares for her daughter Eliana and doesn’t take any lip. Especially from the Deputy Chief MacKenzie “Micki” Blake. Both women have rubbed each other the wrong ever since Micki set foot into town, and there doesn’t seem to be any give by either woman.
When Savannah starts to receive unsolicited gifts and messages from a stranger, her life turns to chaos. She needs help to protect herself and Eliana. Against her better judgment, Savannah accepts Micki’s help in the investigation. Protecting Savannah and Eliana becomes Micki’s sole priority. She doesn’t care how much she annoys Savannah in the process, especially when Micki suggests herself as a part-time, live-in bodyguard.
It’s a situation that is just waiting for a chance to blow up in both women’s faces. But as Savannah’s stalker becomes bolder in his actions, Micki makes it her mission is to find the person harassing them before they cause real harm. There’s no time for distractions, no matter how enticing Savannah might be.
Will Micki be able to stay focused and catch the person terrorizing Savannah? Or will she give in to passion and possibly lose more than she bargained for when the predator strikes?
They say the line between love and hate is very thin, and never has it been more apparent than with these two women.
Savannah is a very strait-laced, by-the-book type of woman. She has to be as the town manager because she must assess what actions make the down better. It’s because of her position, and her past experience with politics, that she has built up and almost impenetrable wall around her heart. The only person who really has the ability to gain access is her daughter, Eliana. Everyone else, though, it takes a lot for Savannah to even allow them a glimpse. It makes her appear cold and unfeeling, and no one knows this side of her better than Micki.
Micki is the complete opposite from Savannah in the sense that she has no problems showing her emotions. She’s very charismatic, caring, and exudes a real respect and appreciation for her position as Deputy Chief. Like Savannah, she wants the best the town. Unfortunately, neither is willing to give an inch on what they each believe is best in their minds.
Savannah and Micki have locked horns since day one, and there seems to be no reprieve to their animosity towards each other. But when a stalker becomes more daring in his advances, Micki and Savannah just might be able to flip the switch and turn their passion of loathing each other into a fiery romance that could lead to more positive interactions.
The Writing Style
I always have to commend writers who tackle mysteries because there always has to be a sense of balance to keep the reader intrigued without making it totally obvious until the big reveal. Stiling is able to that by introducing misdirection that will have you looking at one way intently and never see the true stalker coming until she wants us to see it. In addition, she makes the chemistry between Savannah and Micki so potent you are more than satisfied with the moments in between the investigation scenes and continue reading about their developing relationship.
I cannot say enough on how much I love Eliana. She is such a sweet and smart kid. And Stiling makes a smart choice by having her be friendly with Micki from the beginning. It makes her more than a character to give Savannah some emotional depth. She is also a bridge between Savannah and Micki, and their love for this little girl will help them move beyond their animosity and see each other’s compassion and heart.
There are a couple of instances where Savannah does hit Micki, but when you read the context within the story, I personally feel she is justified for such an extreme reaction. However, some people may not be okay with physical violence no matter how minor or the justification behind it. If you’re still on the fence, check out the excerpt below and gauge for yourself.
This was a good story. The mystery of who the stalker was along with the developing relationship between Savannah and Micki had me reading that I didn’t realize the end was upon me until I saw “Epilogue.” If you’re looking for a good mystery with a heavy dose of sexual tension, then this one will definitely keep you on the edge of your seats in more ways than one.
Excerpt from Secrets In A Small Town by Nicole Stiling
Micki’s eyes widened, and her mouth dropped as she opened the car door. She stepped out furtively, holding both of her hands up in an act of submission.
“Savannah, I –”
She was interrupted by the crack of Savannah’s palm slamming into the side of her face, causing her to stumble backward. Her hand went to her lip, which was now covered with red.
“You think this is funny?” Savannah screamed at her, hysterical with rage. “How could you do this? I’ll have you removed from the force before that blood on your mouth dries! Why are you doing this to me?” she yelled, bringing her hand up again for a second blow.
Micki regains herself quickly, stilling Savannah’s hand with a firm grip. “Hey, whoa! It’s not me, Savannah! I’m only trying to –”
“Okay, you win, you fucking psychopath! You scared the hell out of me! You reduced me to –”
“Savannah!” Micki yelled and looked around as if she was wondering if the neighbors were going to start streaming out of their houses to investigate the commotion. “Chloe told me.”
Savannah stopped short. She stared at Micki for a moment. She closed her eyes, trying to regain control.
“I didn’t want to involve you.”
The anger began to filter away slowly as Savannah let out a long-held breath. “I knew I shouldn’t have trusted her.”
“Don’t be mad at Chloe. She was just worried about you. Really worried.” Micki swiped at her lip again, smearing the fresh droplets of blood. “And I think she’s right to be. This could be serious.”
Micki placed a hand on Savannah’s arm until Savannah looked pointedly at it. Micki snatched it away.
“Okay, now that you know I am involved, I really need to talk to you. I know it’s the middle of the night, but I’d like to see the note, and I’d like to ask you some questions while the answers are still fresh in your mind.” Micki shifted her weight at Savannah’s non-response. “Um, please?”
A reluctant wave of relief swept through Savannah. She hadn’t asked for help because she hadn’t wanted it. Or so she told herself. But now, with Micki following behind her, maybe there was a small part of her that didn’t want to go through this alone. For the first time since all of this had started, Savannah felt a shred of that suffocating isolation begin to dissipate.
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Bits and Bobs
- ISBN number: 9781635554366
- Publisher: Bold Strokes Books
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