by Nora RobertsPublished April 17th 2012 by Putnam Adult
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Daughter of a controlling mother, Elizabeth finally let loose one night, drinking at a nightclub and allowing a strange man’s seductive Russian accent lure her to a house on Lake Shore Drive. The events that followed changed her life forever.
Twelve years later, the woman known as Abigail Lowery lives on the outskirts of a small town in the Ozarks. A freelance programmer, she designs sophisticated security systems—and supplements her own security with a fierce dog and an assortment of firearms. She keeps to herself, saying little, revealing nothing. But Abigail’s reserve only intrigues police chief Brooks Gleason. Her logical mind, her secretive nature, and her unromantic viewpoints leave him fascinated but frustrated. He suspects that Abigail needs protection from something—and that her elaborate defenses hide a story that must be revealed.
Elizabeth Fitch is a child prodigy whose mother has orchestrated her life from and including conception (her father was a donor). Mom's a highly successful Chicago surgeon who treats her daughter more like a genetic experiment. Elizabeth is16 and looking forward to having a free summer before starting medical school in the fall (Mom's career choice) and Mom reneges but ignores her pleas. Elizabeth decides to rebel for the first time in her life and ends up at a popular club that night, complete with a forged ID, new look and an 18-year old acquaintance from high school. It turns out to be a memorable night for all the wrong reasons when Elizabeth unwittingly becomes a witness to murder.
This was one of the more extraordinary stories I've read by Nora in quite some time. Normally, there's a mystery component with a whodunit challenge. Here we know who the murderers are and the suspense is all about how Elizabeth stays alive to testify against them. Since the Russian mob is involved, this is an even bigger concern as law enforcement is corrupted, Mom is uncooperative and Elizabeth has to rely on her own considerable wits and skills to manage her life over the next twelve years.
Once again, Nora has also created a delectable male character in Brooks Gleason, a sexy local police chief who becomes the romantic interest. He's got plenty of Southern charm with a great sense of humor and a delightful family to round him out. Brooks' romantic prowess leaves nothing to be desired, even with the challenging Elizabeth who has no social skills and is not used to family.. If there's any weakness in this story it's with this odd heroine who is pretty difficult to warm to but that's by design. If you try to juxtapose yourself into her backstory it's a bit easier to do but you do question sometimes just what is it that Brooks is attracted to. I got her after awhile and their relationship but it takes imagination. Her transformation was interesting and heartwarming. There are also some great pets here, too (I love when dogs are part of a storyline)!
This is a story of intrigue with a lot of tension as Elizabeth's journey to survive is protracted. The secondary characters are nicely crafted and provide meaty secondary plots but are woven very well into the main one. While the ending was a little anticlimactic, it was a clever one that left you feeling good about it. I was holding my breath a lot throughout the story and never relaxed until the end.
Now that's good suspense.