Length: 67,000 words approx.
In the hottest summer on record, Iron Lake reservoir is emptying, revealing secrets that were intended to stay hidden beneath the water. The tragic story of a missing man is a media sensation, and abruptly the writer and the cop falling in love is just a postscript to horrors neither could have imagined.
Best Selling Horror writer Chris Lassiter struggles for inspiration and he’s close to never writing again. His life has become an endless loop of nothing but empty pages, personal appearances, and a marketing machine that is systematically destroying his muse. In a desperate attempt to force Chris to complete unfinished manuscripts his agent buys a remote cabin. All Chris has to do is hide away and write, but he’s lost his muse, and not even he can make stories appear from thin air.
Sawyer Wiseman left town for Chicago, chasing the excitement and potential of being a big city cop, rising the ranks, and making his mark. A case gone horribly wrong draws him back to Lancaster Falls. Working for the tiny police department in the town he’d been running from, digging into cold cases and police corruption, he spends his day’s healing, and his nights hoping the nightmares of his last case leave him alone.
4* Take one author with writer’s block, add a former city cop with secrets and a man-made lake with even more secrets, and you have the first of what sounds like a very decent, organic trilogy.
I smiled a little as I started to read this book about an author with writer’s block, who talked to himself and talked to his dog, Dakota aka Kota, as if talking to another person. I don’t know of any RL author’s actual writing MO, but I could picture someone rabbiting away and procrastinating and guzzling coffee and having eureka! moments and making notes before it all faded away. I like Chris’s seemingly disorganised brain and his many notebooks, and empathised with him over the pressures of his former two books being bestsellers that had been made into films, and the expectations of his public, his agent and the producers. It really did feel like he’d lost his mojo and being alone with his dog best friend was a kind of therapy, until his muse woke up again.
Sawyer was a bit more closed-off, due to the pretty unpalatable things he’d had to do in Chicago whilst working undercover. Parts of that were not detailed enough here, IMHO, as those things, especially if he came back to Lancaster Falls still suffering from the fallout, would not have been easy to get over. He’d have possibly unconsciously alienated friends and family and he’d have had nightmares that might have rendered him unfit to be a local police lieutenant, but we didn’t get told of any of that, and that took away from this book a little. It was also why he acted the way he did at the start, and I think if I’d known a little more, I might have warmed to him a bit sooner, because at first, I didn’t like his coldness towards Chris. Maybe we’ll find out more about him over this series, as partway through this book something happens that means he’ll be in the thick of things to come…
The romance between these two guys, which takes place over about 15 or so days, starts off really slow, with Sawyer resisting Chris’s advances, and their first coming together came across like Sawyer letting off steam and succumbing to Chris because of that, and then regretting it immediately after and acting a bit like a prat. When I say ‘prat’, I’m actually searching for an acceptable alternative for the noun that starts with ‘d’ and has 4 letters and ends with a ‘k’ and that is sometimes used to describe a part of a guy’s anatomy, because that’s exactly what Sawyer was for all of 12 hours or so, when his brother and friend end up talking some sense into him and he came bearing gifts and apologies. I think Chris was the bigger, more giving guy for a while until Sawyer relaxed and managed to deal with some of the pressures in his current job; I really liked how Sawyer gave the biggest prat (yep, substituting again) in the precinct an option that wasn’t really an option, and the prat guy, bluffing bully that he was, chose to slink away quietly instead of all his crimes being made public. I liked that Sawyer broke up an old boys’ network, though we don’t yet know how far that went, or possibly, goes. Because, as this tale ends in a reveal, the circumstances of the reveal mean that the case is far from done, and the leads from book 2 are introduced in one of the most organic ways that I’ve seen future leads introduced.
However, and rightly so in my book, pardon the pun, the romance took a back seat to the events of the tale. I hate it when stuff is happening thick and fast and leads of a book still find the time to get down and dirty in the midst of danger, but refreshingly, there wasn’t any of that here. Sawyer was pretty much always in cop mode first and foremost, which added credibility to the tale and made it a satisfying read, and Chris fully understood that, was mature about that, and did what he could to help, which was mainly to just be there for Sawyer as an outlet, until they turned into more.
The case itself wasn’t too hard to figure out – take a man-made lake and surrounding caves, and a village complete with church and churchyard that’s been shifted away, and whose remains have been dammed off and flooded, and a crumbling bridge and it’s not hard to piece together what might have happened. It seems like the place has been turned into a dumping ground of sorts, and for a while, it’d been a perfect place for the culprits, until the current drought started drying the water up. In contrast, it’s the culprits who’re going to be harder to take to task and deliver a form of very belated justice to, but I suspect that Drew and Logan, the leads of book 2, will do just that.
This was a good intro to the series and didn’t have too much of an infodump to have my eyes crossing with too many names and too much history.
ARC courtesy of the author and Bayou Book Junkie, for my reading pleasure.
USA Today bestselling author RJ Scott writes stories with a heart of romance, a troubled road to reach happiness, and most importantly, a happily ever after.
RJ Scott is the author of over one hundred romance books, writing emotional stories of complicated characters, cowboys, millionaire, princes, and the men who get mixed up in their lives. RJ is known for writing books that always end with a happy ever after. She lives just outside London and spends every waking minute she isn’t with family either reading or writing.
The last time she had a week’s break from writing she didn’t like it one little bit, and she has yet to meet a bottle of wine she couldn’t defeat.
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