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REVIEW: Silent Night Stakeout by Kerry Connor

Dear Ms. Connor,

I’m glad I didn’t read the back blurb for your latest Harlequin Intrigue before finishing it. Otherwise, I’d have thought it was just another “hero and heroine in close proximity fighting off sexual tension while some sadistic villain threatens her” type of book. Instead, I think it’s much better than that blurb might lead long time romance readers to believe.

Silent Night Stakeout by Kerry ConnorRegina Garrett is finally going to get some vacation time in a hot locale while the rest of Chicago freezes its collective ass off over Christmas. As soon as one of her clients shows up for a meeting he begged her for and tells her why it’s so important. But when Jeremy Decker is a no show, Regina eventually gives up and heads out from her office. Only to discover why Jeremy never made it.

Marcus Waters worked hard to become a homicide detective so he doesn’t complain when he lands a case – even if the crime scene is outside in the freezing cold. What he sees chills even him – no pun intended – and his usual determination to find the killer kicks in full blast. What he doesn’t count on is having the defense attorney who is infamous within the ranks of the CPD involved in the case. Regina Garrett is known for being intelligent and for not missing a thing when it comes to getting her clients’ cases dismissed. Will the two of them be able to work together to solve the case while fighting off the attraction that’s brewing between them?

I like how Regina and Marcus have legitimate reasons, besides just standard “cops and defense attorneys hate each other,” for being wary and skeptical of the other – his sister was murdered by a man who had been sprung from jail by a “take any case” slimeball lawyer and the brother of her best friend was railroaded into jail by bad cops. And while those might be the reasons each went into their chosen profession, each loves his/her job beyond just that.

I must admit that I’m not sure about the ethics of both working on the case, interviewing witness, etc. I guess it’s okay since Regina won’t be trial attorney in the case but it still makes me slightly skittish. One thing I love is that Regina utters our Jane’s standard statement when upset people accuse us of slander/libel here at DA – the best defense is the truth!

Thanks for having both Regina and Marcus be amazed at swiftness of their feelings for each other, after all they each have some heavy baggage, and for pulling back. That pulling back – like a stretched rubber band – makes their ultimate snap into a physical relationship work for me.

You do a good job at keeping the killer’s id under wraps and offering legitimate red herrings. The unveiling is slow and steady though the questions that enter Regina’s mind in the final scenes occurred to me fairly early on. Still, the killer and the reason for Jeremy’s death make sense in a chilling “anyone could commit murder” way. I do wonder why Regina’s PI didn’t uncover a critical piece of information during initial background check/search while Regina was working to get Jeremy released. I would think that this would have been just what a defense attorney needed to have case dismissed.

Romantic suspense books have to balance both aspects of the plot which isn’t easy to do. I think you’ve done a great job with it here though. Instead of just mixing the intrigue with “hubba, hubba s/he’s so hot!,” they take the time to watch each other at work and see the care and passion each devotes to their job and for justice. Regina and Marcus see each other as people and not just sexual objects. What makes the romance work so well for me is that they eventually see that each is working for the same thing – justice for all without special exceptions for those with or without money. You show that it probably won’t be smooth sailing since each has peeps with prejudice to overcome about the other, but they have a solid base on which to build their relationship.

With books that have a satisfying “feel” I can overlook certain things and be absorbed in the story. While it ends with a few niggles for me, overall the flow and intensity of the book caught me early on and reeled me into this world. Thanks for sending it to us for possible review and for interesting me in yet another Harlequin line. B

~Jayne

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Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.

12 Comments

  1. Sunita
    Dec 16, 2010 @ 11:01:18

    Great review, Jayne! I had much the same reaction. I was bothered by the easy way Marcus allowed an adversarial defense lawyer to pass as his partner at times, but overall I thought the book worked really well, and I enjoyed the development of the relationship. And I thought the suspense plot was better than many Intrigues. I’d probably give it the same grade.

  2. Jamie Michele
    Dec 16, 2010 @ 11:18:59

    Ooh! This sounds like a good one, and I’m glad it’s gotten you interested in Intrigue. It’s a great line.

  3. Jayne
    Dec 16, 2010 @ 11:28:52

    @Jamie Michele: I’ll be looking more at the Intrigue line from now on but as I said, it’s hard to find romantic suspense books which can balance the needs of both sides of the plot.

    Any suggestions as to good authors to watch out for?

  4. Jayne
    Dec 16, 2010 @ 11:32:00

    @Sunita:

    I was bothered by the easy way Marcus allowed an adversarial defense lawyer to pass as his partner at times

    this is my main problem with the story though I don’t see how, given the setup, it could have been handled any differently and still have gotten our two characters together.

    I guess it’s a case of ‘it’s good not to be an attorney and read the book.’

  5. Sunita
    Dec 16, 2010 @ 12:40:02

    @Jayne: I have the same problem. I’ve read a whole series of Intrigues over the last few months. Some are pretty good, some are really not good, but none have stood out as exceptional. I’d love some author recommendations as well!

    I’ll dig through my lists and see which ones I enjoyed the most and post later.

  6. Fay
    Dec 16, 2010 @ 13:34:25

    For readers new to Harlequin Intrigues, you might want to check out books by Debra Webb, her Colby series rocks; B.J. Daniels’ Winchester books and Julie Miller’s Kansas City police books. I believe all of them have December releases. Also, some popular single-title authors have come out of the Intrigue line like Jessica Andersen and Tess Gerritsen. It’s worth checking out their Intrigues titles.

  7. Marcella
    Dec 17, 2010 @ 06:32:46

    I read Strangers in the Night by Kerry Connor, which I had one major problem with and turned the book into a C instead of a B.
    Liked several by BJ Daniels, Dani Sinclair and Lori L. Harris.
    Liked some by Harper Allen, Aimee Thurlo and Debra Webb.

  8. Kimber An
    Dec 17, 2010 @ 06:40:28

    An African American man on the cover of a Romance novel which is not labeld African American Romance? Holy Spock! I gotta have this book! Didn’t even need to read the review. Way to go, Harlequin.

  9. Jayne
    Dec 17, 2010 @ 07:22:51

    @Fay: I’ve read a couple by Debra Webb and one by BJ Daniels and enjoyed most of them. I’ll have to look into the other authors you mentioned.

  10. Jayne
    Dec 17, 2010 @ 07:24:17

    @Marcella: I know I’ve read a Harper Allen book before – methinks one reviewed at AAR a few years ago.

  11. Jayne
    Dec 17, 2010 @ 07:30:55

    @Kimber An: You are correct. It’s sold under the “Intrique” line and not “Kimani Press.” I wonder how much of a difference this will make as far as sales are concerned. Note: I’m not trying to insult anyone or piss in their Post Toasties with this observation but there have been lots of discussions in the past about the separation of AA authors and books from the rest of the romance lines.

  12. Kerry Connor
    Dec 18, 2010 @ 10:57:03

    Jayne,
    Thank you for the review! I’m so glad you enjoyed the book, and I hope you find many more Intrigues to enjoy as you explore the line.

    Kerry

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