Tuesday, July 5, 2011

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥: Deadly Silence by Lindsay McKenna

Release Date: June 21st, 2011
Publisher: HQN (Harlequin)
Page Count: 378
Source: Complimentary ARC provided by Carolyn at Romance Novel News in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank yoU!)

A FIERY PASSION ABOUT TO IGNITE...

Lieutenant Matt Sinclaire has always loved fighting fires—until the fateful day when the flames came for his family. Arson took his wife and has left him alone with an eight-year-old daughter too traumatized to speak—and the ruins of his life are proving difficult to rebuild.

When U.S. Forest Ranger Casey Cantrell is assigned to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, the last thing she expects to find is a wounded firefighter and his damaged daughter. But after a chance encounter in the woods, she finds herself becoming almost a mother to the girl.

Now, two years after the fire, Matt feels on the verge of finally getting his little girl back, and even of finding love again. But can he protect them from the evil that stripped him of his life once before?
What Stephanie Thinks: For a romantic suspense novel, I don't think Deadly Silence is highly romantic nor highly suspenseful. In fact, I'd rather classify it as women's fiction or friendship fiction (as Casey and Matt turn out to be great friends and eventually lovers, but there's hardly any sex or romance).

McKenna's writing style is fast-paced, but not very exciting. I expected this story to be one of those edge-of-my-seat thrillers, but it isn't at all. The mystery of who's haunting Matt and putting his crush, Casey, in danger, is predictable since the culprit is revealed within the first few chapters. The "romance" aspect of it isn't highly sensual or heated, either. There seem to be no sparks between Matt and Casey, aside from their sporadic thoughts of "How handsome he looks!" or "Her hair is very flattering to her face shape". They also fall for each other too quickly—almost to the point that their love seems phony. I'm not saying I didn't get the feeling they don't care for one another, because their relationship is very deep. The characters are well-developed and troubled, which makes them seem realistic. The actual romance and (nonexistent) chemistry the author tries to develop however, is rather difficult to buy.

More on predictability: the protagonists are going to fall in love, and the reader knows it from the start (as so in most Harlequin romances). I feel the main conflict of this novel is Matt's eight-year-old daughter, Megan's, shock and how she gets over it, rather than his romance with Casey. Having dealt with great trauma two years ago (watching her mother die and house burn to the ground), she's gone mute, and is depressed. This is where the characters opened up to me, how intimately I got to know them. Casey, too, has a weight on her shoulders that keeps her from living life to the fullest. These imperfections in otherwise pure characters are both heartwarming and exceptionally emotional. That being said, it's the loudness of McKenna's message about human anguish and how one's world can fall apart in such a short period of time, that makes this novel powerful, NOT the romance. I definitely think this could have been a better book without the romance, personally. There's no love scene until the last few pages, and most of the time, there's no sexual tension either.

In the end, I felt my eyes water and throat tighten at the stirring personal dilemmas throughout the book, and rejoiced when I discovered things would work out okay. In terms of writing style, McKenna is very descriptive, but repetitive as well. Her writing doesn't haunt me or keep me holding tight—I don't want to call it bland, but it isn't anything special either. But what she is amazing at, is fostering characters that are so relatable, that I want to love them like my own friends, my own acquaintances, my own children, and having me nearly in tears during the long, laboring journey of finding true acceptance and trust.

Stephanie Loves: "'And here we are—both with major loss and trauma in our lives. We're both crippled. It's just to what extent, how we wrestle with it on a daily basis and how we try to get well even if we don't feel like we'll ever make it there.'

Radical Rating: 7 hearts: Not without flaws, but overall enjoyable. ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥