Author: Karen Robards

Publisher: Gallery Books

Release Date: December 4, 2012

Blue Ribbon Rating: 4.5


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Samantha "Sam" Jones is a single mom of a four-year-old boy, barely making it financially. During the day she takes classes to become an EMT, while at night she repossesses cars using the tow truck she inherited from an uncle.

Daniel "Danny" Pantero is an undercover FBI agent posing as Rick Marco, a rogue agent working for the Zetas drug cartel. The real Rick Marco is in custody, singing about everything he knows to the authorities, while Danny uses his identity to get more information on the organization's inner workings. That was the way it was supposed to go down until some money went missing and the cartel hit man shot him and threw him in the trunk of a car, planning on torturing Danny, aka Marco, until he tells them where the money is hidden. Just what money they're talking about isn't something Danny knows and he's going to have to think quick before he bleeds out from the bullet wound in his leg.

Sam tracks down the BMW she needs to repo and is shocked to find a bleeding man in the trunk. Before she's able to drive away with the car attached to her tow truck, the bad guys knock her out and throw her into the trunk with the bleeding man, stealing her truck to take them to a remote location to finish what they started. Sam is as good as dead once they arrive at their destination, the man explains, because he's the one they want and she's a witness they don't need.

Sam understands that what she does for a living is dangerous work so she has a gun with her at all times. She's determined to get back to her son alive, so she shoots the bad guys when they open the trunk and plans to escape this Marco character the first chance she gets. And that's just the first three chapters--the plot is more complicated, keeping Danny's identity a secret from Sam while putting her and her son in danger every step of the way. Sam is in this thing deep and it's going to take a miracle to get her out of it.

You'll want to read this excellent suspense from cover to cover in one sitting if you can. The story moves at a rapid pace with lots of action. I especially appreciated the slow build of the relationship between Danny and Sam, plus the fact that she never knew Danny was one of the good guys until the end. The reader knows who Danny really is from the beginning but I think that actually helps us to better understand both characters' motivations.

I have a love-and-hate relationship with romantic suspense so I'm always so pleased when one is written the way I like them. This couple didn't jump into bed every chapter. That to me is so unbelievable in a life and death situation, especially when there's a young child involved in the relationship as well. Instead, the sexual tension slowly builds, along with Sam's trust, until their lust is acted upon toward the end of the novel. This is very well done, showing Sam's attraction to the bad boy she thinks Danny is while fighting with her conscience over getting hurt by a relationship that cannot be forever. The only small quibble I had with the believability of the story is that the four-year-old seemed much older in the way he spoke and acted most of the time. Everything else in the characters' development went extremely well with the action-packed plot.

I loved Sam's unusual employment. It suited her character; spoke to her desperation and her ability to care for her child no matter what happened. It also explained her ability to defend herself when she felt there was no other way to survive, but still showed her soft side when she interacted with her son. Sam is a complex character who matched the complexity of the man she's forced to work with to save her son and herself. Danny isn't always so nice while he's sticking to the role of Marco, so Sam's spunk matched him well.

As a new-to-me author, Karen Robards has proven her talent with SHIVER. I'm a huge fan of romantic suspense when it makes sense and keeps me captivated while rooting for the success of the characters, so this one gets my thumbs up for all those reasons. Keep them coming just like this one, Ms. Robards, and I'm a fan for life.

By Romance Junkies Reviewer: Dorine Linnen

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