Publisher: Noble Romance
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Heat Rating: 2
Mattie James can't pinpoint exactly when she lost control of her life, but the moment she decided to take it back made the front page of the local paper. Desperate to dodge the fallout— and the tabloids—she jumps at the chance to spend an off-season week in a tiny resort community by the sea. Making the trip with her ex-lover is a complication she can live with; coming face to face with a dead woman is not.
The last thing Sheriff Wyatt Reed expected to find on the storm-ravaged beach was a beautiful blonde with a jealous sidekick, but one look at Mattie left him wanting more. Their first date takes an ominous turn when he gets the call that a woman was found murdered. With a killer on the loose and a troubling lack of suspects or motive, Wyatt has to put his feelings aside to focus on the case. But his vow not to become personally involved is shattered when he discovers Mattie's life is on the line, and this time the truth leaves her with a deadly choice . . . and nowhere to run.
I first encountered Ms. Ballance not too long ago when I read and reviewed her debut novel, DOWN IN FLAMES. A new writer on the scene, I was instantly enamored with her rich prose and characters, not to mention the way she crafted tension. When I learned she had another release on the horizon, I eagerly set out and put it at the top of my TBR list. Spoiler alert: Ms. Ballance did not disappoint.
RUN TO YOU is practically flawless as a romantic suspense. The novel opens on Mattie James and her friend, Hutch. We quickly learn everything we need to know about Mattie going forward: she’s the victim of two near-marriages and a senator’s daughter, and she occasionally finds herself in Hutch’s bed, though it’s not exactly where she likes ending up. When her personal life starts appearing in headlines, Hutch whisks her away to a small community and a beachside cottage. He intends to take their “friends with occasional benefits” to the next level, but when Mattie meets Sherriff Wyatt Reed, she makes some plans of her own, and quickly finds herself in the middle of a murder investigation. When one body turns into two, suddenly nowhere feels safe.
There are many things I loved about this book. Mattie was a very real character—she was loyal to friends and once she decided she wanted something, she went after it. She likewise wasn’t afraid to be direct—when it came to asking Wyatt out, she didn’t beat around the bush. I also really liked the palpable tension between her and Hutch, even if Hutch wasn’t the lead. Their friendship felt natural.
However, what I truly loved about RUN TO YOU is Ms. Ballance didn’t ask her readers to suspend their disbelief, or otherwise, feel stupid with the way events progressed. Once the action starts, it flows very nicely, timed just right, and pulls no punches as the mystery surrounding the murders unfolds and suspects start coming out of the woodwork. No smoke, no mirrors, and while the ending did take my breath away, it did so for reasons connected to the characters rather than complete disbelief at whose face was under the mask. In that sense, RUN TO YOU is a very intelligent, sensual romantic suspense, and one no one should miss.
With her first book Ms. Ballance grabbed my attention; this one made me a fan. Do yourself a favor and grab a copy. You won’t regret it.
5 Tea Cups!