I’m a big fan of the reunited lovers theme in romance. I think it adds a stronger chemistry to the romance that isn’t present in romances where the hero and heroine have just met. I am also a big fan of exploring the dark side, both in romantic fiction and otherwise. Deadly Obsession by Katie Reus does both. This is a romantic suspense that will keep you guessing until the end, though issues with believability prevented me from enjoying the story as much as I would have liked.
The book blurb, courtesy of the Carina Press website:
The chilling words of a killer: This is just the beginning…
Ten years ago, Lilly Carmichael left town without an explanation, breaking Braden Donnelly’s heart. The death of her aunt has brought Lilly home—and face-to-face with memories she thought were long buried. Still getting over a traumatic incident from her work as an NSA agent, Lilly initially dismisses the face at her window as a figment of stress-induced paranoia.
Now the sheriff of Hudson Bay, Braden has spent the past year hunting a sadistic murderer. His investigation is turned upside down when new evidence indicates that Lilly is the killer’s next target. Determined to protect the woman he’s never stopped loving, Braden must race against the clock to trap a dangerous psychopath—before it’s too late…
The dynamic between Lilly and Braden worked well in this story. Despite the years that have passed since they were together, there is still a mutual desire between them—and, at least on Braden’s part, some resentment. Lilly left town a decade earlier under mysterious circumstances, and this undercurrent is one of the plot threads that keeps the book going.
When Lilly returns home for her aunt’s funeral, she quickly discovers that a serial killer is targeting associates of Braden’s, thus putting her in danger. We, the readers, know—because of the scenes from the killer’s perspective—that the killer’s true obsession is Lilly herself. The scenes from the killer’s perspective give us a deep insight into his psyche. They are also, not surprisingly, very dark and violent, and may be disturbing for some readers.
Although we know the psyche of the killer, his identity is a mystery that will keep many readers turning the pages throughout the book. There are enough false leads and red herrings to keep everyone guessing.
There were some things that didn’t work for me. Lilly’s character had so many different problems—death of her parents at an early age, leaving her hometown suddenly for mysterious reasons, kidnapped and tortured by terrorists, post-traumatic stress disorder, being chased by a serial killer—that it interfered with the believability of the story. I had trouble buying into the idea that so many different, terrible things had happened to one person. Furthermore, Lilly’s post-traumatic stress disorder is exploited primarily to give the other characters—and Lilly herself—a reason to doubt her reliability and judgment.
In addition, given that both Lilly and Braden both have backgrounds in law enforcement, some of the things they do—e.g., one of them chasing after the killer on their own—seem ridiculously stupid. It heightens the sense of danger and suspense, but again, interferes with the believability somewhat.
Overall, I enjoyed the book. It kept me interested and engaged, the suspense and mystery were great, and the tenuous romance between the two leads serves the story well. But the trouble I had maintaining the suspension of disbelief did take me out of the story several times, to an extent that it affected my overall enjoyment of the story.
I received this book as an eARC courtesy of NetGalley. Deadly Obsessions is available now as an e-book from Carina Press.