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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Chickasaw County Captive by Paula Graves

Chickasaw County Captive by Paula Graves
Publisher: Harlequin
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense
Length: Full Length (224 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 Books
Reviewed by Poppy

When someone tries to kidnap his daughter, Jefferson County D.A. Sam Cooper sees red. He wants little Maddy protected, at any cost. Even if that cost includes working with a distractingly attractive detective, Kristen Tandy. He knows Kristen wants to solve the case…so why does she try so hard to stay distant from him and his little girl? Remaining professional is something he fully understands, but the emotional—and physical—scars Kristen tries to hide make Sam deeply interested in turning things personal. And the more protection Kristen offers his daughter, the more her closely guarded vulnerability draws him in. Before long, as the truth of her past is slowly revealed, Sam realizes just how desperate someone is for her to remain silent….

This book hits the ground running and barely slows up for a breath all the way through. Author Paula Graves just keeps getting better and better.

I am thoroughly enjoying the Cooper Justice series. The Cooper family is fabulous – not without flaws, of course, but they’re loving and kind and know the difference between right and wrong.

In this book, Sam Cooper’s little girl, Maddy, is nearly kidnapped. Because the perp is on the run, and the only one who can definitely identify him is Maddy’s babysitter (and cousin) who is in a coma, the police assign someone to protect her.

Kristin Tandy has a tragic background of her own and it’s created a bit of a phobia of children. She doesn’t want to be around Maddy, but the little girl seems to have grown attached. As time goes by, so does Kristin, despite all her resolve not to.

The suspense is definitely the focus of this book. Though we’re aware of the attraction between Sam and Kristin, and the growing attachment of Maddy to Kristin and vice versa, the strength is in the mystery.

Who is the man who tried to take Maddy? Each step the characters take while trying to figure out the answer is believable and clear. I admit to being a bit frustrated at not having suspects offered up so that I could try to figure it out on my own, but even so I was glued to the pages and as worried for Maddy’s safety as Kristin and Sam were.

With some neat sub-plots including Sam’s ex-wife and Kristin’s past, this book was one of the strongest I’ve read in a while. There was one incident at the end that I didn’t quite buy into, but without which the darkest moment and the exciting climax could never happen. So, I suspended my belief in order to see the book through to the end. And what an end it was! No, I won’t say what happened, but I loved it and it helped to cement the tenuous relationship between Sam and Kristin.

If you enjoy a series that features an interesting and fun family of characters, and books that have strong suspense along with some yummy romance, then you won’t go wrong selecting this one. Though I fully believe Chickasaw County Captive will stand strong on its own, I still recommend starting this series at the beginning. It’s that good.