Former Army Ranger Marcus O'Bannion is a fierce champion of victims’ rights. His secret past gives him good reason. He believes he’s seen the depths of human depravity, but then his investigation into the murder of a young girl who once asked for his help lures him and Scarlett down a dark, dark road—and straight into the crosshairs of a dangerous, powerful underground ring that deals in human trade. To stop them, Scarlett and Marcus have to be just as cunning and just as ruthless. But first they have to make it out alive.
Comment: This is most recent book by author Karen Rose. She writes romantic suspense and this is a book that can fit into two series...there's a lengthy series only titled romantic suspense series, in which this book #17, but in a smaller scale it's book #2 on her Cincinnati set stories.
All the books follow one another sequentially and often characters from previous books are mentioned or show up, so it's positive to have read them all, although the amount of time between readings can make us forget many details...
The books go from one city to another and this is the second one set in Cincinnati, but the action has been in Baltimore, Chicago and other places.
In this story we follow special agent Scarlett Bishop, one of the characters familiar to us, and Marcus O'Bannion, someone with an important role in the previous story. It's not necessary to have read that other book to understand this one but many references and names will make more sense if the readers have read the other first.
The villains in this novel have, as we all can guess, secrets to keep and they will do anything to avoid authorities to uncover them. But they didn't expect O'Bannion to be such a key character, especially after all the trouble he caused them in the past because of his work as a journalist.
But Marcus and Scarlett are concerned about the victims, in particular the young woman assassinated that also had an ankle tracer on her, suggesting a dire situation and that could be the tip of a bigger iceberg. But nothing is easy, clues aren't always obvious and people are in danger. Can the police and our heroes do something before it's too late? And what could be at the bottom of all this?
Well, this story is a lengthy development of a situation that happens in only a two day span. It's incredible the amount of detail the author presents and all the little things we see happen.
But my biggest issue with this novel (and with some of the more recent books by her as well) is how long it takes for something to happen and the ridiculous amount of pages spent showing us all the plans, all the actions, all the ideas the villains have.
I understand it gives us a very good idea about their mindset, their motives, the rotten side of their human lives, but it gets too distracting and repetitive: the amount of pages we read from the villain's POV is not being used as protagonists' development and often it's the same sort of information. Sure, we are always up to what they're doing and we can have an idea about how far ahead or not they are compared to the heroes, but I thing it's unnecessary to have so much air time focused on them.
Sure, knowing what they're up to is one thing, but every little detail, along with all details from the good guys as well... no wonder this has 700 pages.
I'm not complaining about the page count, but one third of it spent on bad guys, their bad actions and deeds...it's annoying to me, to be honest.
Of course this means the romance development lacks in some believability... sure we know they knew each other before, she visited him at the hospital (he was hurt in the previous book), they are very attracted to one another, but it takes them virtually 2 days to go from sexually attracted but just wondering to being in love. Stressful situations can give a more adrenaline-infused momentum to these things, but it's not that realistic, I think! Maybe if the action took longer than 2 days and more of the 700 pages had been focused on their relationship...
As for the plot, what can I say, it makes sense, it's explained, in fact ALL steps are detailed to us, some more obvious than others, but in the end everything makes sense and the only loose ends that can exist are there on purpose, probably to set up the next book (for instance, we already know who the next protagonist couple will be).
The author clearly does a lot of research, knows a lot about the police procedures and so on and inserts enough information about the themes presented, like human trafficking and immigration in this book. It's not a thesis on these things but enough to give a good structure to the book.
I've been a fan of the author since the first book I've read by her. I've noticed the books are getting longer, the themes more complex, romances less developed and villains are getting more and more air time. I feel rather sad over this, because I preferred how things were years ago. I understand, but it's hard not to think about it.
Still, this is a good enough novel, there's a HEA and justice is done. Well, sort of, because in my opinion too many people die instead of having a day in court and being sentenced...