Series: Scarlet Falls

Seconds to Live by Melinda Leigh

Seconds to Live by Melinda LeighSeconds to Live by Melinda Leigh
Series: Scarlet Falls #3
Published by Montlake Romance on June 28th 2016
Pages: 335
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four-stars

Wildlife biologist Mac Barrett avoided his hometown of Scarlet Falls for years—too many bad memories. But when he receives the news that his father is dying, he rushes home only to discover he’s too late. Shaken, Mac retreats to his remote cabin seeking peace and solace. Instead, he crashes his jeep to narrowly avoid running over the naked body of a woman lying in the road. Even more disturbing, when he regains consciousness, the body is gone.
Police detective Stella Dane wants to believe Mac, even if his story about the vanishing body seems far-fetched. But when Mac’s description matches the missing woman she’s been searching for, it raises a disturbing question: How does a dead body disappear?
Mac and Stella will have to work together to find the answer and catch a psychotic kidnapper—and quickly. The killer has a deadly message to send, and the case is about to become personal.…

It seems fitting that the wildest and youngest of the lot ended up as a wildlife biologist – and out in the wild as much as he could. But Mac Barrett finally returns home when his borderline-psychotic ex-military father dies and in doing so, is forced to make peace with a past that he can’t seem to outrun. Exhausted and injured, the last thing he expects however, is the flash of a naked body across the road and a reconnection with police detective Stella Dane as she ploughs through what appears to be the marks of a serial killer tramping through town.

I loved Brody’s and Hannah’s story, which upped my excitement for Mac’s own tale the moment ‘Seconds to Live’ went live on Netgalley. ‘Seconds to Live’ is richly and tautly written, albeit somewhat predictable even as the relentless action and suspense seemed to short-change the depth and crises of Mac’s difficult youth and perhaps even in Stella’s own backstory – all of which are merely glossed over in secondary sub-plots that don’t seem satisfactorily resolved. Nonetheless, I appreciated Ms. Leigh’s efforts not to make her characters veer anywhere near the TSTL boundary. While I was skeptical of their very quick mutual declarations of love by the end, both Stella’s and Mac’s paths down the road to romance are rather straight and thankfully unhindered by useless games, particularly when criminals at large take narrative priority.

There are some twists of course, to keep me hooked, and though not so much filled with revelatory moments to leave my jaw hanging , ‘Seconds to Live’ is thoroughly entertaining and good for at least a day to get lost in.

four-stars

Minutes to Kill by Melinda Leigh

Minutes to Kill by Melinda LeighMinutes to Kill by Melinda Leigh
Series: Scarlet Falls, #2
Published by Montlake Romance on June 30th 2015
Pages: 324
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five-stars

After corporate attorney Hannah Barrett tries—and fails—to stop a kidnapping in Vegas, she can’t shake the haunting image of the terrified young girl she couldn’t save. She tells herself that a visit to her hometown in Scarlet Falls could be a welcome distraction. But soon, Hannah realizes the kidnappers have all the info they need to track her every move. And when chilling e-mails about the victim appear in her inbox, it’s frighteningly clear what happened in Vegas has followed her home.
Eight months after a terrible family tragedy, Hannah turns to Detective Brody McNamara once again. Brody is eager to help, though he’s embroiled in the investigation of a brutal murder. But the closer they work together, the stronger their feelings grow…and the more they stand to lose when two seemingly unrelated, but equally deadly, cases collide.

Hannah Barrett and Brody McNamara meet again after 8 months: I’m not privy to the events of the first book because I didn’t read it but there are sufficient hints about what has gone down before and this time, they get to know each other a lot more when Hannah’s own messiah complex puts her in the crosshairs of 2 very unpleasant men. Human trafficking is the nasty issue here and Melinda Leigh doesn’t skirt around it at all through the eyes of the antagonist, which was a little distasteful (but perhaps necessary) for the narrative.

But as a character-driven reader, I thought Ms. Leigh’s characters came through here, having created very mature and very likeable characters in both Brody and Hannah: their stances towards relationships, the degree of perception and willingness to reassess what has been driving them thus far and the kind of understanding about each other that had me down with this particular ‘ship from the start. Hannah in particular, surprised me with her actions and that all-round badassery made me like her even more.

Slowly but surely the threads of Barrett family seem to be coming together once again, with Mac (the wild and estranged one) being set-up for the book in the series. And if I think who I think it is who will eventually force him to face his home once more, then the next book would be very interesting indeed.

five-stars