It was a desperate plan. But Mary Grace Winters knew the only way to save herself and her child from her abusive cop husband was to stage their own death. Now all that remains of their former life is at the bottom of a lake . . .
DON’T TRUST . . .
Armed with a new identity in a new town, she and her son have found refuge hundreds of miles away. As Caroline Stewart, she has almost forgotten the nightmare she left behind nine years ago. She is even taking a chance on love with Max Hunter, a man with wounds of his own. But her past is about to collide with the present when her husband uncovers her trail and threatens her hard-won peace. Step by step, he’s closing in on her— and everything and everyone she loves.
A brave woman who tries to leave a life of pain, misery and spousal abuse behind and move on with her son, a chance on love in the form of a hunky history professor, a race against time to catch an abusive husband, who is leaving a trail of victims, before he finishes what he started, two kindred spirits who are both emotionally scarred, moving and wonderful romance and bone-chilling suspense. These are the ingredients of Karen Rose’s debut romantic suspense novel: DON’T TELL.
Caroline Stewart is the name Mary Grace Winters takes on after she’s staged her and her son’s death to escape her abusive husband. She is the school example of the high school drop out who got married for all the wrong reasons, including an unplanned pregnancy, with the husband from hell. Seven years later she’s worked hard build up a new life and just when she starts to get comfortable enough to stop looking over her shoulder, her husband finds out she’s still alive and he goes on a manhunt to track her down. Caroline is intelligent, courageous, resilient and compassionate. In everything she does, her son comes first and she doesn’t shy back from confrontation or discussion.
Max Hunter is the history professor who takes over the position of Caroline’s former boss and mentor. He is a wonderful man who is caring and sweet but he also has a stubborn streak. He too doesn’t shy away from confrontation and this provides a few fiery dialogues and even a heated argument or two between him and Caroline.
Max is just as scarred by his past as Caroline is and they both struggle to accept things that have happened to them and are happening in the present. They both bring heavy emotional baggage into the story and this weighs on their budding relationship. The sexual tension and emotional chemistry between Max and Caroline is an element that runs throughout the book, complementing the suspense thread.
There’s a variety of secondary characters and yet it is never overwhelming or too much. Karen Rose does an amazing job in the character development. Not only of the main characters but of the supporting cast as well. Next to the POVs of Max and Caroline, there were POVs from abusive husband Rob Winters, best friend Dana, son Tom and Special Agent Stephen Thatcher. It allowed me to really get into their heads and grasp the story from multiple angles. I got to know the characters through the backgrounds provided, the dialogues and the POVs and even though the book is character driven, it is also action packed and the characterization and emotions never took away from the pace or the suspense.
The POV of Rob Winters was creepy and mesmerizing at the same time. He and the things he did scared the crap out of me but I was glad his POV was in the story; it was as if I could keep tabs on him. I have rarely read such an evil, malicious and relentless character. There were times I actually wanted to get into the book and pound on him myself for his condescending and degrading treatment of other human beings. From the beginning it is clear that he is the bad guy and the suspense is clearly not about who the bad guy could be but about whether the good guys would find and stop him before he did finish what he started 7 years ago.
Before I started reading DON’T TELL a little bird told me that some secondary characters were going to survive to have their own books. Of course this made reading the book all the more exciting because would the ones I was rooting for, survive and be a step closer to their own future happy ending? Well I am glad to say all the ones I wanted to survive, actually did and I already know which ones are their books. Except for one…He’s only 14 years old in this book so his own book would have to be in the very distant future, but he has so much potential: Tom, Caroline’s son. Now that’s a tortured, romantic suspense alpha hero in the making if I ever saw one.
Twitter proves to be an inexhaustible source for book recommendations and my reading Karen Rose’s DON’T TELL is a perfect example of this. There were a few people who recommended Karen Rose to me and since I already had my eye on the pile of her books on my bookshelf for a while, the decision was quickly made. I am very pleased to report that this book hit home with me in an impressive way.
DON’T TELL was my first Karen Rose book and it was an edge-of-your-seat romantic suspense that kept my interest from the first to the last page. It was compelling story telling added to in depth characterization to make romantic suspense at its very best. My reading needs and my emotional needs were utterly satisfied with a story that grabbed me from the moment I read the prologue to the moment I turned the last page. Some may argue that the plot of a battered wife staging her death, running away and falling in love with her new boss isn’t original and maybe it wasn’t but I couldn’t care less. Karen Rose wrote a story around spousal abuse that was definitely worth my reading time. She took a subject that has been beaten to death in the suspense/thriller genre and made it her own with emotional depth, original characters and excellent suspense. She doesn’t shy away from horrifying scenes and actions, but she also knows how to ratchet up the heat when it comes to the romance.
This book reminded me of one of my favorite movies: “Sleeping with the Enemy” and gave me the same emotional satisfaction the movie gave me with a worthy and well-written ending, a lovely and lively romance story and a suspense plot that kept me guessing. Not as to who the bad guy was, but as to what was going to happen next. This was definitely an above average romantic suspense. If you’re looking for the perfect combination between heart stopping suspense and heart wrenching emotions and romance, you will find it all in DON’T TELL. The combination of police procedures, law enforcement, romance and characterization is perfectly done and Karen made me care about almost every character in the book.
In the books I read and movies and TV programs I watch, I am a sucker for anything even remotely to do with crimes, crime solving, FBI and taskforces. Karen Rose answered to this craving with her amazing first book, DON’T TELL and I need more of the same very soon.
His mouth was everything she’d dreamed. Strong and soft, it monopolized, demanded and gave back everything it took. And more. He nudged, nipped and feasted, still touching with only the hand on her head and those sensual lips.
Mercy. The man could melt her into a puddle of goo with just his voice. He raised their joined hands to his lips and kissed each one of her fingertips. It was barely a kiss. Yet so carnal it rocked her to her toes.
„Is this what you wanted?“ he asked, his voice so rough it was almost unrecognizable. She nodded, catching her lip between her teeth. He dropped his lips to hers, kissing her hard. “Don’t try to hide all those little cries from me, Caroline. They’re mine.“ He kissed her again, clamping his fingers against her possessively. “I’ve laid in my bed dreaming of this. Dreaming of you. Dreaming of the sounds you’ll make when I make love to you. Of all the things you’ll beg me for. Please, Caroline. I want to hear you ask me for all the things that make you scream.“