REVIEW: Shield of Refuge by Carol Steward
Dear Ms Steward,
Since I’ve had pretty good luck with the Harlequin Steeple Hill Love Inspired suspense line, I thought I’d give your book a try. One thing I like about this line is that it doesn’t seem to rely on the use of super secret, black ops style businesses. Your book is a case in point. Here we have a beat cop working to solve the mystery of who snatched a young woman off the street – or rather out of her car – in broad daylight, along with the witness who saw it.
“Shield of Refuge” is obviously part of a series but not having read the first two books I didn’t feel either 1) overwhelmed by past characters taking over this book nor 2) lost when trying to figure out what happened in the past books. And when the past characters showed up, it was to augment this book and move its plot along.
Amber’s past run ins with the law are plausible. They’re not horribly bad but they’re also not piddling and easily brushed off. You make her wary of law enforcement with good cause but not so much that she wouldn’t report what she saw and then try and help the investigation. I like that we see Amber at work and that she’s conscientious, hard working and seems to know what she’s doing.
I liked Garrett a lot too. He’s doing a job he loves and one, given his family history, which he knows about. After Amber accidentally hits his cruiser, sure he is immediately attracted to her but he’s also naturally upset that she’s helped to ruin his spotless record and caused him to be injured right before he’s up for his interviews for the national law enforcement agencies he’s dreamed of joining. This is much more realistic than some “meeting cute” encounters I’ve read in romance books.
I have some questions about the investigation. At first Garrett feels that the whole thing is being swept under the rug. That the ‘powers that be’ want it to disappear beyond just not creating a public alarm. Later when he looks at the initial report from the officers who checked out the kidnapping scene, he sees that all the details are there but that nothing was done to follow up on the information. Why? I was never quite sure what stalled things.
When Amber is kidnapped from the car, people witness it and you mention a cop on the scene. What happens to the cop? I can see bystanders not wanting to intervene since the villain has a gun but what’s the deal with the officer? And supposedly Amber is tied up and left for hours but in reality, it feels like it’s much shorter than that. Did I just miss some indicators that time had passed?
Garrett and Amber seem to fall for each other almost immediately but then take some time sorting out their feelings. I felt it more realistic that they didn’t immediately fall into gushy romance love but yet, in the end, still feel that they make the decision to get married fairly quickly. Hopefully they’ll put off the wedding at least until after Nick’s.
Amber seems so level headed for most of the book so it was with sadness that I watched her suddenly and for no reason slip far into TSTL land. She heads off on her own to make multiple stops for her party business. Then even after she gets kidnapped and sees that a woman has died at the hands of the villain, she still argues about keeping her store closed! WTF? She knows the villain is after her, she knows he’s after Garrett, – she knows! – and yet she still wants to work? I also had a WTF moment when Amber’s employees seem to be more worried about notifying the bride of the upcoming wedding that Amber might not be able to get her cake done on time rather than worrying about Amber’s safety. Perhaps that’s not the impression you wanted to create but it’s what I felt.
When the truth comes out regarding the villain’s motives, I felt a tad let down. Like Garrett, my immediate thought was that the villain had waited an awful long time to take his revenge. And why not target his intended victim sooner? Surely there was some way to get even without the intended target being on the force for the amount of time he was?
Both characters are fairly religious people and include God in their every day lives. I didn’t feel preached at but readers who aren’t comfortable with reading about religion at all might want to think twice before picking this one up. Some books in this line include religion to a greater or lesser degree and this one is greater.
While this book didn’t turn out to be as good for me as I had wished, it was a quick read and I enjoyed the main characters – for the most part. I just might head back and pick up the first books in the series since I liked what I saw of those main characters. C