Kill Me if You Can

Nicole Young
2008, Inspirational Romance
Revell, $13.99, 384 pages, Amazon ASIN 0800731581
Part of a series

Grade: B
Sensuality: Kisses

As Kill Me if You Can opens, we learn that home renovator Tish Amble has returned to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan for her newest job - the cabin where she spent part of her childhood. The narrator takes the reader on a fascinating journey in which the mysteries of Tish's past start creeping into her present. Though this book is part of a series following Love Me If You Must, it stands well on its own.

When she was a child, Tish's father left the family and her mother died young, leaving her with only vague memories of happy times with her mother at the cabin on the peninsula. She does not have clear recollections of other people there, but when she returns after having bought the cabin, it is clear that someone remembers her. She arrives at her new home to find a torn picture of her mother, with the words "Don't Ask Why" scrawled across it.

Following the death of her mother, Tish was raised by her grandparents. Since she has always believed her mother committed suicide and discussion of her brought much pain, Tish knows very little about her. Now that she has purchased the cabin, the picture she finds raises suspicions in her mind and she finds herself determined to get to the bottom of secrets that seem to involve mysterious half-remembered relatives, old town scandals, and the past of the mother she barely knew.

In addition to the mystery, Tish also must deal with her lingering feelings for Brad, a man she came to know in Detroit before moving north. Though she believes it would be best to have a clean break with her old life, she cannot stop thinking about him. Even though they now live far from one another, he seems determined not to let her go. When his sister comes north to visit Tish, this creates another tie between Tish and Brad, forcing her to deal with the man she thought she left behind.

For the most part the author does a fantastic job of balancing the romance and suspense in this book. The conflict between Tish and Brad feels real and I could understand her actions for acting as she did even as I did sometimes feel exasperated with her. Things also develop at a believable pace in this story, and after reading a string of "we meet, we hook up, and now after less than a week I know you're my soulmate" stories, I found that refreshing.

The atmosphere created in this book was a winner for me as well. The book has an almost gothic feel to it, and the descriptions of isolated Upper Peninsula towns and the sometimes forbidding characters who populate the novel made the mysteries of Tish's past feel ever more sinister. Somehow the author manages to take fairly modern problems and give them an almost old-fashioned spookiness.

While things move a little too quickly and even coincidentally at the end, the book is still enjoyable. With Kill Me If You Can, the author tells a good story while sending her inspirational message subtly through the actions of her characters. Tish and the others around her are all flawed, real people trying - some with more success than others - to believe and to live their faith. Though the story has a few rough moments, it is primarily a very engaging suspense novel with a cliffhanger ending that makes me anxiously await its sequel due in February 2009.

-- Lynn Spencer

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