A standalone contemporary novel in the Porthkennack universe After a massive anxiety attack, Sam Atkins left his high-powered job in the City and committed himself to life on the road in a small van. Six months in, he’s running out of savings and coming to the conclusion that he might have to go home to his emotionally abusive family. Needing time to think, he takes a walk through a copse by the Cornish roadside, only to stumble upon the body of a ritualistically killed sheep. As he’s trying to work out what the symbols around the animal mean, the sheep’s owner, Jennifer, and her nephew, Ruan Gwynn, come upon him. Ruan is a kind-hearted young man with a large supportive clan, and since he and Sam feel almost instant attraction, he doesn’t want to believe Sam is a sheep-killing cultist. In fact, the moment he lays eyes on Sam’s miserable solitary life, he wants to rescue the man. But as the killings escalate, he and Sam need to stop whoever is actually to blame before they can concentrate on saving each other. Word count: 66,700; page count: 245
Dear Alex Beecroft,
I always enjoy your writing and usually buy your new books hoping that I will enjoy the story as well. Sometimes it works sometimes it does not.
As blurb tells you this book is set in the small town of Porthkennack and part of another series that Riptide publishing seems to be fond of doing – each book is a stand –alone basically, but it is set in the same city and sometimes the characters from the previous books make a very minor appearance.
I have not read (and not planning to read right now) any other books in the contemporary Porthkennack universe and I was not confused reading this one at all.
Let me just get this out of the way – I thought that the book was beautifully written and I liked two main characters a lot which is a big deal for me in Romance novel.
As blurb tells you Sam had an anxiety attack at his previous job which paid the bills well but was not bringing him happiness. His family was not very supportive of him, in fact they were emotionally abusive (and still are when Sam called his mother couple of times in this book) and after several years of therapy he managed to leave them and his past life behind. Since he gave away almost all his savings and code writing was not paying much, he found himself in dire financial condition and he is now living in his car in the town of Porthkennack.
Sam didn’t kill Jennifer’s sheep, but Jennifer and Ruan found him right near by examining it. I understood the desire to blame somebody who is the most convenient to blame, but frankly I thought Aunt Jennifer was being an idiot and decided to bring the charges against Sam I am not even sure why she did that. I think she said to make police look for the real criminal because she didn’t seem to really believe that Sam did it either (no blood on him should have been a big clue).
In the meantime Ruan discovers that other bad things were happening in town – somebody is engaged in the online bullying of teenage girls and his niece Tegan is the one who makes Ruan aware of the issue. One of her classmates committed suicide and Tegan and her other friend think that bullying may have something to do with it. Tegan wants help from Ruan to catch the bastard who may be doing that and Ruan decides to ask Sam who mentioned that he was good with the computers during their unfortunate meeting. I personally thought that Ruan had a lot of nerve to ask Sam for help after his Aunt brought charges against him, but it is made clear in the text that Ruan was attracted to Sam and didn’t believe that he really was the villain.
I have to admit that I really liked our heroes together – they have had that quiet, gentle chemistry I enjoy so much in this writer’s books and for that reason I am all the more disappointed that the story didn’t take its time to develop their relationship. Yes, they were very sweet together. NO, I do not have a clue as to *why* they decided to get together, especially because I didn’t get any hot sexual attraction vibe from them either. NO, I am not complaining about the absence of hot sex – there were couple of not very explicit sex scenes, which would have been perfectly fine for me, but I got the impression that we were supposed to see that the boys fell in love, that the attraction was because they liked each other as people, and I just don’t get how one can like one another as a person when they just met.
I am not sure how I feel about lets catch the bad guy storyline either. Initially I liked it very much because I had no idea where it was going and how all the horrible things were connected together and whether the occult was involved or not. It was suspenseful and interesting, but I thought that at the end it just fizzled out. I mean motivations for the bad things happening made perfect sense, but it seemed to me that the only family villain could come from was given to us early enough in the story and sure enough, that’s where the villain came from. To add insult to the injury the villain themselves was a completely new person. I was disappointed.