Author: Leslie Tentler

In Dark Water by Leslie Tentler

In Dark Water by Leslie TentlerIn Dark Water by Leslie Tentler
Series: Rarity Cove #3
Published by Left Field Press on February 5th 2019
Pages: 236
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One year after the tragic loss of her husband, Mercer Leighton returns home to Rarity Cove to be near family and resume her former job at the St. Clair resort. Feeling adrift in life, what she doesn’t count on is being witness to a double murder in nearby Charleston’s French Quarter.

Charleston Homicide Detective Noah Ford is no stranger to the dark, violent side of humanity. Nor is he happy about the lone eyewitness in his investigation being part of one of the South Carolina Lowcountry’s most prominent families. However, when an attempt is made on the beautiful widow’s life, Noah vows to protect her.

As it becomes increasingly clear that the killer will stop at nothing to eliminate the witness, Noah also begins to suspect the presence of a traitor in his own department. After a stunning betrayal, he is forced to take Mercer into hiding to keep her alive. As the two fight for survival, they also fight the simmering attraction between them.

But the killer is out there, and he refuses to give up.

A return to Leslie Tentler’s Rarity Cove after so long took a bit of re-orienting, a bit of catching up, but the slow build-up of ‘In Dark Water’ makes it very easy to jump into Mercer Leighton’s and Noah Ford’s story after Mercer unwittingly witnesses a murder and eventually finds herself at the hands of law enforcement as they scramble to take her into protection when it becomes evident that she’s next on the hit list.

There isn’t much unpredictable about the plot however: the homicide detective and widowed witness fall for each other, the leak in the law enforcement ranks, a criminal out for revenge, but I thought the execution of it was quite well done and that alone made the story worth savouring. Mercer and Noah were not just believable together, but Tentler’s measured pacing, the explosive action in the last quarter and the sensitive way she writes of their progressing relationship—adulting is done pretty well here, so no complaints from me—probably made ‘In Dark Water’ my favourite in this series.

My preference for more explicit, lusty smut between them and higher-octane action—essentially higher highs and more breathtaking swoops of passion I guess—that most likely stems from B-grade movie leftovers is probably a petty one, considering how much I liked this.

By and large, this latest offering from Tentler reminded me why I do wish her new books could some somewhat faster. I do like her law enforcement heroes and Noah’s one whom I immediately grouped into this odd, cop-sized shape compartment that I have for them. And while it might be a story that’s probably done in some variation or other, ‘In Dark Water’ is one I’ll remember for some time.


Low Tide by Leslie Tentler

Low Tide by Leslie TentlerLow Tide by Leslie Tentler
Series: Rarity Cove #2
Published by Left Field Press on June 12th 2017
Pages: 321
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Hollywood leading man Carter St. Clair had it all—until a brutal stalker attack nearly takes his life. Seriously injured, he returns to his hometown of Rarity Cove, South Carolina, to recover in private, his outlook on fame forever changed by someone claiming to be his “number-one fan.”

Physical therapist Quinn Reese fled San Francisco to be free of her soon-to-be ex-husband, professional football player Jake Medero. Staying at her mother’s house in Rarity Cove seems like her only option until she can get back on her feet financially. When the St. Clair family makes her a lucrative offer of employment, Quinn sees the potential for starting over, even if it means working with Carter, who broke her heart years ago.

As Carter heals under Quinn’s care, a fragile bond forms between them. Carter also recognizes a parallel between his own stalker and the possessive pro baller who considers Quinn his property. But even as Carter steps into the role of Quinn’s protector, another dangerous storm is brewing…one for which neither of them is prepared.

I barely remember the characters in Rarity Cove’s first book, but ‘Low Tide’ sounded like an enticing read. Coupled with the fact that I generally like Leslie Tentler’s storytelling and characters, Carter St. Clair’s and Quinn Reese’s book sounded like a good fit.

And mostly, it was, objectively speaking. The St. Clair family’s drama slowly came back as I got into the plot; the pages turned, the story flowed (albeit slowly at times), and I pretty much was glued to the plot as the twist came at the very end.

My reservations slid in however, when it came to the characters, whom I didn’t think I actually liked and were invested in as much as Tentler’s other couples.

A man at the height of his career and the world at his feet and having it suddenly taken away, only to meet a woman way back from his past, whom he’d treated badly sounded like poetic justice. But this also dropped a big hint that Carter was enough of a prick to stay that way until his entire life was upended in an attack that had to have him reevaluating his priorities. Consequently, I didn’t exactly like Carter enough to root for him and Quinn, not when he only questioned his womanising, jet-setting and superficial lifestyle in the wake of this tragedy. That it had to take her rehabilitation and that time spent together for him to ‘develop’ real feelings for her couldn’t make me shake off the idea that he somehow needed to be brought down more than a notch when he returned to Hollywood, expecting that Quinn would be in tow with some concessions that he’d be making. Maybe I’d expected a bigger form of sacrifice on his part, or that he’d look somewhere else, away from the vitriol of that shallow life and was disappointed when that didn’t happen.

Quinn, on the other hand, was easier to relate to, as she did all she could to flee an abusive marriage yet finding herself trapped where she was. I liked how she could put aside her issues more than Carter could, but she was a bit too much of a damsel in distress for my liking and her easy acquiescence to Carter’s magnetic charm made me wish that she’d given him a harder time with it.

Frankly, I’m simply going to call ‘Low Tide’ a bit of a glitch. Tentler has always been an author I watch out for and it’s not going to stop me from what she comes up with next.


Before the Storm by Leslie Tentler

Before the Storm by Leslie TentlerBefore the Storm by Leslie Tentler
Published by Left Field Press on October 16th 2015
Pages: 334
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Six years earlier, Trina Grissom disappeared, on the run for her life. Now living under an assumed identity-as Samantha Marsh-she still struggles with the dark secret she harbors and the fear she might one day be found. When she moves to the coastal town of Rarity Cove, South Carolina, to open a cafe, a handsome widower begins to chip away at the walls she's built to protect herself. Mark St. Clair lost his wife two years ago in a tragic accident. Head of the grand St. Clair resort, he distracts himself from his lingering grief by running the family business and caring for his troubled young daughter...until a beautiful restaurateur sets up shop in town. Before meeting Samantha, Mark was convinced he could never be drawn to another woman. But as his attraction to Samantha grows, the mystery surrounding her deepens. As the two begin a hesitant courtship, double perils emerge. Someone from Samantha's lurid past comes calling, threatening to expose her. And a powerful hurricane is forming in the Atlantic with the small beach town in its path. Trapped in the storm by the brutal man who wants vengeance on Samantha, she and Mark must fight for their lives."

The new life that Samantha Marsh has built for herself in an attempt to erase her violent past is threatened when she draws the attention of Mark St. Clair, a widower with a young daughter. Unaccepting of Samantha’s initial rejection of their growing connection, Mark pushes for more, until he realises that the truth is more than he can handle, just as Samantha’s past catches up with her.

Before the Storm is classic Leslie Tentler: written with a measured tone and believable characters who ache and feel without going to extremes, topped off with a good dose of suspense especially towards the end, yet teeters into the trap of a heroine who keeps secrets when it was made clear the hero could be trusted – long enough to wander into TSTL territory – because of her shame of her checkered past. The ending is a bittersweet but realistic one, with some revelations that still managed to surprise me when I thought I had it pegged.


Midnight Fear by Leslie Tentler

Midnight Fear by Leslie TentlerMidnight Fear by Leslie Tentler
Series: Chasing Evil Trilogy, #2
Published by Mira on July 19th 2011
Pages: 432
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"I trusted you, Caity"
The still of the night is once again shattered by Caitlyn Cahill's recurring nightmare—her brother standing before her, gripping a butcher knife, his eyes black with hatred. Two years ago, the former Washington, D.C., socialite defied her powerful senator father and risked the ruin of her family by helping the FBI link her troubled brother to a string of horrific murders. "The Capital Killer" was sent to prison for life…and Caitlyn's entire world fell apart.
Now, FBI agent Reid Novak is forced to rend the peace Caitlyn has found on a rural Virginia horse farm. A copycat killer is on the loose and slowly toying with Caitlyn—his ultimate target—in a terrorizing cat–and–mouse game. Almost destroyed two years ago by Caitlyn's family, not to mention the Capital Killer's haunting final murder, Reid vows to save the woman he's never forgotten or die trying.

I’m once again amazed by what Leslie Tentler can achieve. Midnight Fear is a thrilling, suspenseful story of a copycat killer – the stunning revelation of whom at the end really left me shocked – and how 2 people, brought together by extenuating circumstances, find each other again.

Reid Novak first met Caitlyn Cahill under less than ideal circumstances but dropped out of her life soon after the case against her brother closed. Just as he is about to return to active duty following a long convalescence, the copycat strikes, with the intention of getting to Caitlyn.

I’ve always loved Ms Tentler’s sophisticated storytelling and maturity of characterisation – so exquisitely written given the required gravitas of this genre as well as how adults should be behaving in fiction without TSTL moments – and Reid and Caitlyn are no different. It’s beyond refreshing to read about characters who recognise the difficulty in maintaining a relationship forged out of the darkest moments of a murder yet struggle with their intense attraction to each other without the usual dramatics that I tend to see in many other books. Reid is as atypical a hero as one can get and Caitlyn isn’t the usual spoiled socialite who magically evolves into a caring person by the end of the book; instead, I’ve only gotten to see more and more, how well-matched they are for each other by the time the last page came around.

Like always, Ms Tentler’s bittersweet but hopeful (and not quite resolved) endings have me long wondering into the night if they truly get their HEA.


Edge of Midnight by Leslie Tentler

Edge of Midnight by Leslie TentlerEdge of Midnight by Leslie Tentler
Series: Chasing Evil Trilogy, #3
Published by Mira on January 24th 2012
Pages: 432
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The writer becomes the story when crime reporter Mia Hale is discovered on a Jacksonville beach, bloodied and disoriented, but alive. She remembers nothing, but her wounds bear the signature of a sadistic serial killer. After years lying dormant, The Collector has resumed his grim hobby: abducting women and taking gruesome souvenirs before dumping their bodies. But none of his victims has ever escaped and he wants Mia back, more than he ever wanted any of the others.
FBI agent Eric MacFarlane has pursued The Collector for a long time. The case runs deep in his veins, bordering on obsession and Mia holds the key. She'll risk everything to recover her memory and bring the madman to justice, and Eric swears to protect this fierce, fragile survivor. But The Collector will not be denied. In his mind, he knows just how their story ends.

Such an enthralling and riveting read. I’m not too ashamed to admit that my admiration for Leslie Tentler is growing exponentially despite having only read ‘Fallen’.

Mia Hale’s abduction and subsequent escape pulls the Feds into the case and Special Agent Eric Macfarlane, who has a personal interest in this. Together, they need to unravel who is after her before other women succumb to the Collector’s wiles. From the very start, we’re made to know who the killer is (something that really surprised me) but that in no way detracts from the atmospheric conditions that are detailed in the story.

Apart form Ms Tentler’s ability to carve out a solid crime thriller plot, I particularly loved how she handles her characters. They are broken, determined and yet never crossing the fine line into too stupid to live territory as they battle the simmering the tension and attraction. Mia and Eric are such prime examples of how a mature pairing like this should work and the happy-ever-after is always bittersweet, with the lingering hope of a future rather than a cut and dried one.

I’m pretty sure I’ll be suffering a book hangover after this. The inability to move on to another novel because I’m still lost in the world of this one after turning the last page is a sensation that doesn’t occur too often and when it does, I’d be a damn idiot not to seize it with both hands.