by Amber Malloy
GENRE: Suspense Romance
African American socialite and bestselling crime writer Cayden Young returns to her high school stomping grounds to solve a cold case. Unfortunately, her hot business partner is in her way. In love since high school, they couldn’t work out their rich-girl, poor-boy differences. While she attempts to put the past to rest, she ends up unearthing a more than a decade-old secret that could get her killed.
Former Marine Levi Scott is ready to take over his family’s resort fulltime. The only problem is he needs to buy out his partner, who he happens to be in love with. Always on unsure footing with the wealthy beauty, he is determined to get her out of his life for once and all, and decides the best way to do so is offering to help her solve a thirteen-year-old cold case. Soon, they figure out the murderer may still reside in their posh resort town … and Cayden could be next on their list.
Since the third step always creaked under foot, he counted to ten before he flipped on the lamp and loosened his tie.
“Holy shit, Levi! What the hell?” She jumped while he bit back a chuckle.
“Isn’t that my line?” Beads of water from her shower gathered on her skin. She wore a pair of barely-there yoga shorts, and Levi could see straight through her tank top. Round, full breasts were easy to make out beneath her stretched-too-thin material.
“There’s no way that event ended this early,” she scolded him.
“Forgive me for ruining your heist … should I leave and come back to let you finish?” Everything about the woman turned him on, starting with her messy bun and black-framed glasses.
No rich-girl representative or spoiled brat came to steal time in his shower spa. Instead, the real girl next door stood in front of him. “My shower was one thing, Ms. Young, but my last bottle of wine?”
She held onto a bottle of Riesling, shipped from the Italian vineyard that wanted the resort to use them exclusively. “Do you not remember telling me to stop taking wine from the resort?”
“There’s this thing called inventory, and if a bottle is missing,” he spoke slowly as if talking with a child, “it is considered stolen. Much like what you’re doing right now.” He pointed to the contraband in her hand.
“I beg to differ. You don’t even like Riesling, Mr. Scott.” She smiled innocently. “So what happened? Did you forget something?”
“Now that you mention it…” Taking off his tux jacket, he threw it off to the side. “What do you think about this couch?”
Cayden shook her head, probably not following his line of questioning. “Heirloom? It doesn’t really go with the décor.”
“Exactly! I worked my ass off to make this place look … what’s the word?”
“Modern,” she offered.
“Manly. But we’ll go with your term. Look at this craftsmanship … dark, hardwood floors, straight lines, and that kitchen is a work of art. I made that farmhouse table by hand,” he bragged, glad she didn’t interrupt. “Then there’s this monstrosity … a red velvet Victorian. And let’s not forget the piano. No one plays that shit. Why the hell do we even have it? My mother claims it’s too valuable to put in storage, so she leaves this crap here.”
“I’m guessing you want to get rid of it?”
“Of course, but you know Lydia’s weapon of choice is guilt,” he complained while rolling up his sleeves. “I was thinking if I changed or altered it in some way, then maybe I could tolerate it.”
“Hmmm.” She tilted her head to the side while she relaxed her stance. “What do you have in mind?”
This story is told over the course of several years – at least thirteen. Cayden is a wealthy, beautiful African American who meets Levi Scott for the first time when they are teenagers. They have immediate, magnetic chemistry but there are many complications and differences between them. Their banter is always lively and entertaining. The story moves back and forth through time as both their backstories slowly come out. Sometimes I found the skipping about disconcerting and a little confusing.
Cayden becomes obsessed with finding out who killed her best friend thirteen years ago. The case has gone cold but that just spurs Cayden to delve into the mystery with more determination than ever which winds up putting her in the killer’s crosshairs. Levi tries to get her to back off but she convinces him over time to help her uncover the truth.
The romance overshadows the suspense a bit too much, in my opinion, but it was still an enjoyable read. I got a little tired of hearing about Cayden’s remarkable beauty and intelligence, but her character was likable more often than not. I was happy with the resolution and laughed at the ending.
Reviewed by Laurie-J
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Amber Malloy dreamed of being a double agent but couldn't pass the psyche evaluation. Crushed by despair that she couldn't legally shoot things, Amber pursued her second career choice as pastry chef. When she's not writing or whipping up a mean Snickers Cheesecake, she occasionally spies on her sommelier. Amber is convinced he's faking his French accent.
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