No Escape

Shannon K. Butcher
October 2008, Romantic Suspense
Forever, $6.99, 452 pages, Amazon ASIN 0446510289

Grade: B
Sensuality: Hot

I havenít read that many great romantic suspense books lately, but this story certainly met my craving for a romantic, compelling suspense tale.

Grant Kent is on his way to a new security job after leaving the army when he gets a strange call from a former foster sibling, Isabelle Carson. Heís always cared for her, so he makes a detour and stops by her house. She then tells him some startling news: Three of their former siblings, all foster children to a treacherous child molester, are dead due to apparent suicide. Isabelle is convinced itís murder.

Together, the two try to warn the others in line to die and also convince the police that thereís actually a crime occurring Ė while protecting Isabelleís foster son from an abusive, possessive father. In the meantime, the two fight attraction and affection for each other. Both had troubled childhoods, and cope with it in different ways. Isabelle wants to start her own foster family and simply doesnít trust nor expect any man to put up with these dreams, while Grant knows he can never be the father she wants for her children.

I admit, when I read the prologue to this book, I wasnít impressed. However, things quickly turned around. I really liked Isabelle and Grant, and thought they were a wonderful couple (Grantís occasional hard-headedness aside). Their romance didnít feel forced, like some suspense romances are, nor was it a case where I couldnít help but doubt their HEA since their love was based more on protectiveness on the part of an alpha hero. Grant genuinely cared for Isabelle, just as she genuinely cared for him. I could very easily picture a romance forming between the two in normal circumstances, which canít be said for all romance novels.

The suspense in this book isnít exactly a mystery - we know who the murderer is about halfway through the book - but rather how it all ties together. In this, Butcher excels. I was very much impressed by how well all of the complex pieces of the story fit together. In the beginning I worried that too many things were going on, but this proved to be a pointless concern as Butcher mapped out the story and its elements very well.

The identity of the murderer was also very interesting, as were his motivations. Though we did know his identity fairly early, it was fascinating to see parts of the story from his perspective. It isnít easy to create a sympathetic serial killer, but I think Butcher managed it. Crazy, yes. But evil? No, not exactly. It was an interesting choice, and one that I enjoyed.

Iím not entirely sure why, but I picked up No Escape with fairly low expectations. I put it down more than satisfied. This one is a solid, quality romantic suspense thatís well worth reading.

-- Jane Granville

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