Letting down her guard leaves a woman vulnerable to love—and to a menacing stalker—in a pulse-pounding novel by Nancy Herkness, award-winning author of The Hacker.
After fleeing her abusive ex, New Jersey salon owner Natalie Hart is reclaiming her life and self-esteem. Her fragile recovery doesn’t need a player like former FBI agent Tully Gibson, no matter how tempting a fling sounds. Then Natalie starts receiving anonymous notes, each more frightening and threatening than the last. To help track her stalker, Natalie knows whom to call. Their explosive chemistry together is an emotional hazard she’s willing to risk.
A high-powered security expert at KRG Consulting, Tully has intimacy issues of his own. The stirring hum of attraction he feels with his new client comes with boundaries. Tully’s job: just keep Natalie safe. But keeping his distance is getting harder. Whoever is playing games with Natalie wants to take things one deadly step further. The deeper Tully and Natalie are drawn into danger, the closer they become.
It’s time for Natalie and Tully to face their fears—of falling in love and of falling prey to a vengeful killer.
Publication Date: January 5th, 2021
This is the third book in the Consultants series that deals with the lives of three friends: Derek, Leland, and Tully.
The book begins with Alice and Derek’s wedding. Natalie Hart’s best friend would love to see her find a romantic partner she is as much in love with as she is with her brand new husband. Derek’s partner Tully seems to be a perfect choice, even if Natalie keeps saying she isn’t interested in getting involved with anyone. It has taken her a lot of time and effort to put behind the ugly reality of the psychological abuse her ex-husband put her through. Even though there is undeniable attraction, ‘the spark’, between her and Tully, she knows how to discourage any romantic advances wthout saying a word. However, Natalie has a problem and Tully might be the right person to discuss it with ( I have to say, I admire both Natalie’s independence and her common sense in asking for help when necessary). She has been getting anonymous e-mails with threatening messages. Tully takes the situation seriously and tried to discover who might want to hurt her. Is it her ex-husband Matt? Natalie has also been providing shelter to women trying to escape an abusive relationship/marriage… Perhaps, one of the husbands/boyfriends learnt what she has been doing and where she lives. As the threats continue to escalate, Tully and Natalie’s feelings seem to grow exponentially. They do need to confront their issues and their past if they want this relationship to work.
Nancy Herkness has a great writing style. It was very easy to follow the story and imagine the characters. I haven’t read the previous books in the series, but this one can definitely be read as a standalone. The structure of the book is solid as the events unfold in crescendo until the mystery is solved, the lives are saved, and the protagonists can enjoy their own rather unique happy end. If I could change anything about this book, I’d go for a bit less steam. To be fair, since the protagonists have been abstaining from romantic relationships for some time (for valid reasons), there is a lot of pent-up passion, still…if you are more of a fade-to-black reader, you might want to skip a bit.
Tully is undoubtfully written as an alpha male- strong, safe, protective, attentive. One of the things I liked about him was how he paid a lot of attention to Natalie’s reactions to his words and her body language. He also warns her that situations like this can provoke strong feelings without an outlet. I must say I kept thinking: the right thing in this situation would be to act professional and leave ‘dating’ until later when he could be sure that her judgment isn’t clouded by the adrenalin of ‘Fight or Flight’ Natalie’s dilemma also isn’t that clear-cut: on one hand, she is attracted to this powerful, confident, and decisive man, on the other hand, she has vowed to make sure her desisions are not going to be overruled by a man, however tempting it may be to let somebody else take responsibility. On one hand, we all want to be cared for, loved, and protected, on the other hand, we still need to remember it is our life and we choose how to live it.
Overall, I liked this romantic suspense/ thriller (it was fast-paced, and, well, there was plenty of action). Three and a half stars.
Thank you to NetGalley and Montlake for the the ARC provided in exchange for an honest opinion.