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"Depth of Lies" by E. C. Diskin
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Minor Spoilers Alert!!!
Two of Hearts begins on a tragic note with Mr. Nakos's death. Shane, a US Marshall and Kai's best friend, returns to his hometown to attend the funeral and to figure out what to do about his career burnout. Once he and Dakota come into contact, he knows that he has to find out what went wrong with them and why she let him leave without protest when they had so much potential as a romantic couple. Through the dual POVs of Dakota and Shane, we learn why Dakota and Shane's secret college romance failed, how the Indian community reacts to both Mr. Nakos's death and the family casino falling under Mrs. Nakos and Dakota's joint management. Convincing the Indian community that Mrs. Nakos wouldn't all of sudden abandon the values and beliefs that she embraced while Mr. Nakos was alive was a central issue in the story.
I loved that we also see more of Kai Nakos, Dakota's brother and his wife, Rachel who had their own romance in Author Christina Lee's New Adult series Whisper to Me (Between Breaths # 3).Rachel and Dakota are best friends and she dispensed some really good advice -
"If there's one thing I've learned, Dakota, it's that you make your home with the person you love. And everything else will fall into place." Rachel
and admonishment when needed -
Her eyebrows rose and she her lips drew together in a tight line.“And you didn't talk to him about it?"
I shook my head.
"Not this s*** again.” She grasped at my shoulders. “You need to talk to him.” Rachel
In telling Dakota and Shane's story, Author Christina Lee also explores serious issues like ethnic group identity versus self identity. Kai and Dakota Nakos are of mixed ethnic heritage, with an Indian father and a Dutch mother. Some Indians believe the casinos are detrimental to Indian communities while others support the economic prosperity that comes with it. After Mr. Nakos's death, Dakota and her mother felt tremendous pressure from outside parties to sell their family's casino. This complicated the romantic tension between Dakota and Shane a great deal.
Dakota was a driven, independent and strong-willed female who wasn't used to bending to anyone's influence. She had a valid fear that openly dating Shane who was not of Indian descent would only further complicate her standing in the Indian business community. Consequently, one challenge Shane had was to show Dakota that she could still be strong while partnering with him romantically.
His mouth moved closer to my ear and in a controlled voice that verged largely on anger, he said, “You might not want anybody here to know what’s happening between us, and it’s fine if that extends to him, for the time being. But you will not give him the opportunity to be alone with you.”
My cheeks heated up faster than a forest fire and I was nearly rendered speechless.
“Him picking you up? That’s a date,” he said, eyebrow lifted, teeth clenched. “That gives the impression that you’re available and you’re not. You’re mine.”
I sucked in a breath and crossed my legs, unable to control how turned on I felt in that moment, even though I wanted to thoroughly smack him. “I’myours?”
His eyes met mine in near defiance and I couldn’t look away even if I tried. “That’s right. And I’m yours. We clear?”
I bit on my trembling lip. “We’re clear, chief.”
He must’ve liked that because his thumb briefly trailed over mine beneath the table.
I also love romantic suspense so I thoroughly enjoyed trying to piece together the clues as Shane and his two fellow US Marshals investigated the mystery of Mr. Nakos's death.
This was Author Christina Lee's first contemporary romance. My Kindle cloud copy of this novel is full of highlights and bookmarks proving yet again how much I adore her writing genius. I always look forward to more from her regardless of the sub genre of romance she chooses to write in.
I've read and absolutely loved Christina's "Between Breaths" New Adult series. All her characters are simply amazing. Each has a unique story, something to deal with, alone as well as together with their love interest. All 5 books were a PLEASURE to read (all are 5 stars reads). So this is what I expected from this one even though the problems that Dakota and Shane (the MC in this one) encountered were naturally more "outside" problems and not the New Adult variety (meaning a "coming of age" internal struggle) since both are in their late 20s.
Dakota Nakos lost her father in a robbery. But instead of having the time to mourn her father she has to deal with Indian (Native American) politics since now that her father is dead the Casino her family owns will be run by her mother (who is Dutch) and herself (only half Indian) - something the community isn't keen on since the Casino is suppose to help the Native American community with donations and activities to promote the settlement. A Dutch woman an her half Indian daughter doesn't sound like a "great deal" in some people's minds...
But actually what changed? her mother and herself have been working in the business for years under her father's strong and honorable lead. So why the community is striking out now? Something is up, for sure! That's what Shane Garrity realizes when he comes to the funeral of his best friend's father. Shane and Kai have been best friends for years, yeah he has been avoiding Kai's sister - Dakota, for the past 5 years after the way things ended with them when he left to become a Marshal yet coming home to the funeral is on the top of his priority list. He feels burned out from his job, he isn't sure what to do about it, so when he hears about Mr. Nakos's death he willingly accepts the time off his boss offers him.
Meeting Dakota after the time they were apart is difficult yet Shane soon realizes he won't give her up now. He isn't sure what it means, or what exactly she thinks about it, yet he is determined and when he sees a glimpse of her inner struggle with how much she wants him - he won't take no for an answer. At that point I had respect for both Shane and Dakota. She was totally in love with him when he left, she didn't fight for him, yet neither did he. They just parted ways and now seeing him again she wants him but she is scared of being left by him AGAIN. When Shane keeps pushing her into his arms she doesn't really struggles since this is where she wants to be. I also understand him, enough time was wasted, now he is here and he wants it to work between them and he is willing to push his way in. So up until almost the middle I was semi okay with his pushiness but at a certain point I just realized this is just his personality. He likes being the boss, he likes to push her, he likes to CONTROL her, tell her what to do and decide things for her while showing her by that how much he knows her and how much she needs him (making his behavior "acceptable"). Frankly it was a MAJOR turn off. I don't like controlling men even if he has reasons, some of them quite good I didn't expect a strong independent woman like her to let go of who she is and what she wants for a guy.
Getting back to the plot, Shane using his connection to try and figure out what's going on, with the stress the community is putting on Dakota and her mother as well as trying to solve the murder or Mr. Nakos. I didn't like how secretive Shane was about the whole deal. Even though Dakota was grieving I do believe she should have known the truth or rather the things that Shane unraveled with his investigation (not saying more not to spoiler). For me, not telling her everything is also him being high handed which I DIDN'T like and couldn't understand how she could even accept.
I guess for the reader out there who likes a good alpha male - Shane would be a HUGE turn on, but somehow that's exactly the thing that puts me off men. I am a strong independent woman so I don't care for ones who try to control me. I want men to respect me, and yeah I want to be able to lean on my man and feel safe, but not while he is stripping away MY personal strength if that makes any sense. Dakota, being a strong independent woman became a "kept woman" in my personal view with how she changes with Shane by her side. If she had a more "weaker" personality, if she was a more of a "girly girl" or I don't know, somehow less dominant and in control I think I would have enjoyed this one more because I would have been able to understand the appeal Shane had, but on Dakota? Nope.
The mystery had a very big part in this novel. I have no personal problem with that, it's just the way the story was built. The romance took a while to really evolve since they both wanted one another and wanted it to work yet they still have a huge problem communicating what they want and what they are willing to give up so they can truly be together.
I really wish I'd feel differently about Dakota and Shane yet both of them weren't what I enjoy reading in a romance novel. I don't "hold a grudge" about it though, I still ADORE Christina, I'll keep reading her "Between Breaths" NA series and keep my eyes and ears open to more books by her.
I kindly received this book as an ARC from "The Rock Stars of Romance" in exchange for my honest review.
Tags: Contemporary Romance, Suspense
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