Friday, January 31, 2014

CONCEALED (Hidden #1) by Victoria Michaels

CONCEALED (Hidden #1)
by Victoria Michaels
ARC Review
Published: December 10, 2013, Crazy-Bee Press

My rating: 4 of 5 ⭐️

Sydney has had to transition from teen into adult at a moment's notice, and has managed pretty well, considering she has had no one to turn to or lean on. But she is living in a constant state of fear, always poised to run at the slightest sign of danger. That's why she is slow to make connections, it's a miracle she has lasted as long as she has in Elton. But she loves it there, loves working at the diner for the couple that has taken her in without too many questions. She also has no objection to the almost daily visits from the town's favorite eye-candy - Sheriff Wade Jenkins - even though he turns her into a rambling fool. No, she really doesn't want to have to pack up and go again this wouldn't just break her heart, but her daughter's as well.

Wade has been observing Sydney's movements around the diner for quite a while now and it isn't just her looks that draw him in. She seems open and happy, easily socializing with the customers while carrying out her job, making everyone feel welcome. He can tell she has a story though, she is jumpy at times and is obsessively protective of her daughter. After having been burned some years back, Wade has made it a point to keep any dating to a minimum, and even then to take it outside the reach of the town's grapevine. The insistent matchmaking of a mutual friend finally disolve Wade's hesitance to approach Sydney, but just as he is making some headway getting to know her a little better, his full attention is needed on his job.

The small town of Elton is reeling with the news of the violent murder that took place, but no one is as terrified as Sydney. When the investigation turns up some evidence that may well link back to her, she is convinced that somehow her past has caught up with her and she is primed to run once again. But Wade catches on and before she has a chance to take off, he needs her to come clean about her past. It is the only way he can keep her safe and bring the killer to justice. It is up to Sydney to either put her faith in Wade for whom she has developed feelings, or whether to spend the rest of her life on the run......


I'm excited!! A new romantic suspense series with some steamy heat?? Hell yeah...I'm all in!

Not necessarily Victoria Michaels' regular fare, she does a fabulous job on this genre. The Prologue immediately sucks you completely in... It's quite a jump from there to Chapter one, about five years, but an understandable leap when you take in the entire story. From the rather shocking prologue, we move into a much slower pace, slowly getting to know the two main characters and their supporting 'cast' while also getting a feel for some underlying unease that is slowly bubbling to the surface. The story builds toward an action-filled climax with an interesting and unexpected twist at the end.

Paranoia rules Sydney's life and although understandable, it is also not something she can keep up forever. Still, it is a little frustrating to see how difficult it is for her to open up to people who have done nothing but show their support without asking her for any explanations, trusting HER at face value. For someone so young, she has been very resilient, dealing with what she has been through all these years. A strong character.

Sadness clings to Wade, and he has allowed it to become a bit of a wall for him. His feelings for Sydney seem to be the one thing that has prompted him to stand up for himself a bit in terms of his past. A rather private man who doesn't seem to share much of himself, stays primarily in his professional role. Sydney seems to be able to bring him out of his shell. 

The entire middle 'courtship' phase of the story could have moved a little more. It seemed to drag a bit in comparison to the beginning and the end of the story, and it felt a bit like shifting from high to low, straight back into high gear, skipping middle all the way through. 

Nonetheless, a book I would recommend as a good, solid and compelling read, with suspense, action, romance and some steamy moments, later in the story.

A stirring, clever and sultry tale with a chilling twist.

**ARC provided in return for an honest review.**  Kobo Createspace Barnes&Noble


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