|Cedar Hollow, by Tracey Smith|
Cedar Hollow is the first Romantic Suspense book by Tracey Smith, author of the Love Trilogy. Tracey already had the romance writing down, and she has nailed the suspense aspect with her initial endeavor in this genre.
Cassidy St. Claire still wasn't sure what she'd been hoping to find when she began the search for her birth parents, but all she’d uncovered was a bunch of death certificates and one ailing great-uncle who’d finally kicked the bucket last week. Since Cassidy is the last surviving member of the family that means his estate, a small seaside bed and breakfast in New Hampshire, has been left to her. An odd stipulation in his Will requires that she appear in person to inherit the property. Cassidy isn't very hopeful that this weekend trip will lead to anything more than a momentary distraction from her busy life, and an excuse to take her convertible for a long drive up the coast.
She certainly isn't prepared for Mr. Tall Handsome and Brooding; Ben Riley has been running the bed and breakfast for the last several years, and he is definitely less than welcoming. His instant dislike for her is staggering, but his penetrating green eyes burn with a dangerous mixture of hostility and attraction.
Within days of her arrival an attempt is made on her life and then another. Suddenly Cassidy finds herself trying to unravel the mysteries of the past, while outrunning the dangers of the present and finally turning to the strong, protective arms of Ben Riley and a future she'd never imagined.
The author's writing style is easy to follow. The story-line is fast-paced, as a good suspense novel should be. I didn't want to put it down – but I had to. Couldn't pull an all-nighter, because I had to work the next day.
Part of the suspense and intrigue is due to the periodic narratives by “The Chosen One”, a mysterious avenger whose time of reckoning has come, to right the wrongs, and let no one stand in the way. The first such narrative is at the end of Chapter One, so right away the reader is drawn in to the mystery. As I was reading, I correctly suspected a certain character as being “The Chosen One,” but this didn't take away from my enjoyment of the book at all.
There are also gothic elements that increase the suspense in the book. Cassidy feels a sensation of coldness whenever she walks near the foot of the 3rd floor staircase. The unused rooms on the 1st floor are kept ominously dark. Even though Cassidy closes her curtains at night, they're open in the morning.
The main characters, Cassidy and Ben, are well written, and are my favorites. At the beginning of the book, Cassidy comes across as a rather cold-hearted workaholic businesswoman, in charge of acquisitions for a resort chain, which means talking people into selling their property to the resort. Ben, who has a chip on his shoulder for an unknown reason, resents her for the job she does. As the story progresses, the reader learns of Cassidy's history, and why Ben felt that way towards her. Learning “the rest of the story” makes both characters more likeable.
Also as the story progress, several accidents occur, with Cassidy barely escaping serious injury. During the time when the accidents were occurring, the relationship between Ben and Cassidy evolves – from Ben being barely civil to Cassidy, to Ben being intimate with Cassidy (with three explicit scenes). This romantic suspense is heavy on the romance! The mystery is finally solved, with an exciting climax to the story.
I enjoyed this book very much, and rated it four out of five kitties. It is a pleasing blend of suspense and romance. If you like Harlequin® romances, and the gothic novels of Barbara Michaels, you'll love Cedar Hollow by Tracey Smith!
Note: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author, with no expectation of a positive review.