- File Size: 704 KB
- Print Length: 209 pages
- Publisher: Harlequin Superromance (December 1, 2015)
- Publication Date: December 1, 2015
- Sold by: Harlequin Digital Sales Corp.
- Language: English
- ASIN: B00YN4WGVU
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Not Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,377,567 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
Harlequin Digital Sales Corp.
Price set by seller.
A Southern Promise Kindle Edition
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This novel is loaded with unusual features. To start with, the setting is Durham, North Carolina, not your usual sophisticated metropolis or quaint small town, but rather a small city with charms of its own. Each detail is pared down and relevant to the story yet conveys a strong sense of place without long flowery descriptions. The background feels really authentic, yet spares the reader the annoying range of Southern clichés.
Even though this story opens in typical murder mystery fashion, it is not really a true mystery. There are a few of that genre's conventions, but it ticks more of the boxes as a romance. Neither erotic nor sweet, unfulfilled sexual tension dominates the book. Personally I find a really intense dose of UST one of the hottest qualities in a romance, and it was both intense and believable in Southern Promise. The predominant emotion was yearning rather than instalust, and that totally works for me.
The third person narration is primarily from the hero's point of view with illuminating excursions into the heroine's POV as well. Perhaps that's just an illusion stemming from the complexity of the hero's personality and the dilemma caused by his attraction to the great niece of the murder victim and sister/cousin to the chief suspects in his investigation. From Howie and Julianne's first meeting, there are subtle signs of attraction that increase as the story progresses and as their relationship becomes complicated by both ethical and class issues. I really loved the character of Howie, with his Daddy issues and his class resentments and his all-encompassing integrity. Julianne's personality is more muted, but she is engagingly snooty-free for a rich girl and a member of the local aristocracy. I like the role reversal implicit in having a working cop and an elite society woman moving towards a relationship, though class is not the major obstacle to their progress.
Supporting characters are also excellent. I particularly like Howie's semi-estranged father and Julianne's damaged, ice-queen mother. Both were really well defined and layered characters. I also appreciated that the problems in the main characters' pasts weren't standard issue nasty child abuse and that neither character was whiny and annoying and neither uses past angst to justify ass-hattedness.
Basically this is a well-written, slow-burning sort of romance with complex characterization and no gore beyond the initial crime scene. I had a great time reading it and recommend it wholeheartedly.
The focus of the story is in the intricate investigation, where everyone is connected to someone, all the leads are taking towards the same conclusion, but the conclusion is the one, that can destroy everything else developing around the characters.
The attraction between Howie and Julianne is immediate, and definitely inappropriate. Her family member is murdered, by someone in her family, and he is the investigating detective. Not possible in any way. And when you take into consideration their society beyond the investigation, would Howie be admitted to the inner circles anyway.
The relationship starts to form, regardless, through long phone conversations, and accidental meetings around the town.
The investigation is not moving forward, everyone 'knows' who did it, but proving it is another matter.
The delicate dance between doing the right thing, the ethical thing, following the rules, and surrender to the heart's desires takes the reader through the story. The matter is interesting, and the story has beauty in it, and is well written. It does move forward in a crawling pace at times, but is not a story to be given up on
~ Four Spoons
Enter Detective Howie Berry, whose connection with Julianne's family when it owned and ran several major businesses in Durham, does not go unnoticed by him. After all, his mother was one of the mill workers. His father's connection with the plant is not so obvious, because he was one of the executives who denied Howie his fatherly presence until after Howie was an adult and even then, from a distance.
When Howie suspects Julianne's brother, he also suspects he's falling for Julianne, but he can't act on those feelings. Nor can she--unless she no longer cares to catch the criminal, and Howie can't let that happen. His job is to put murderers behind bars and when the killer confesses, the barriers that prevent Howie and Julianne from exploring their feelings for each other remain in place--until each decide to take a chance. But how will her mother and his father react? What about the other family members? And how will even a confession affect the new business Julianne is starting in the new tech-oriented Durham? A suspenseful story worth spending time with.