Monday, April 2, 2012

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥: Ashton's Secret by Liana Laverentz

Ashton's Secret
Liana Laverentz

Release Date: May 28th, 2009
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Page Count: 250
Source: Complimentary copy provided by author in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you!)

From the moment he'd caught her snooping on his property, Meghan Edwards knew Nicholas Hawkinson was the man she'd been looking for. But would this dark, secretive stranger help her solve the mystery of her sister's death?

Nicholas Hawkinson wanted nothing to do with the city-girl photographer who asked too many questions. Five years ago the people of Ashton had been all too quick to accuse him of murder. They still considered him the town's black sheep, a bad boy at best and a killer who got away with it at most. The smartest thing for both of them would be to never mention Heather again.

Her sister was dead, and Meghan knew it wasn't suicide. So did Nick. Whether he liked it or not, Ashton's most dangerous man was the only one who could help her now. And Meghan wasn't leaving until she'd unraveled this sleepy little town's secret—or died trying.
What Stephanie Thinks: I absolutely love how Laverentz incorporates threatening suspense and jeopardy into her heartwarming romances. Ashton's Secret involves a tough love story because it isn't about two lovey-dovey people who fall for each other at first sight. In fact, Meghan Edwards, though attracted to the tall, dark, and handsome Nick when she meets him in an unfortunate snooping fiasco, hates his guts initially. He's impolite, he's disrespectful, and he just makes her feel like she's unwelcome in the small town of Ashton. Yet she knows he holds the key to her search to find out the truth about her little sister's death.

Which, she convinces herself, is the only reason she's putting up with his crap, the only reason she keeps coming back to Nick, as churlishly as he treats her. But is it really? Is her sister the only reason she's staying? In her subtle prying, in her attempt to get close to the man who may as well have been Heather's lover—or even her murderer—Meghan finds a deep, sensitive, and even loving side of Nick she wants to unravel further. And ever so slowly, he just might be letting her in. But Ashton has different plans.

I appreciate the twists and turns this book has, but find it to fall a little flat on the romance. Compared to Laverentz's other novels, this one doesn't give me that tingly swooping feeling I expect from her. Nick and Meghan squabble too much to really seem that in love, though their hot body language does indicate otherwise. Their relationship seems too quick and too unrealistic, but then again, I wouldn't point it out as the essence of this novel. I'd rather classify it as a suspense story because the mystery was definitely enough to keep me on edge the whole time.

Laverentz's writing style is still as clear and smooth as ever, another thing I really enjoyed. The plot is pretty straightforward and is really a puzzle—which is a good thing!—but the characters are hard to relate to. This one's a bit lengthy too, so I can't call it an easy breezy read, but I did like it overall. If mystery is more up your alley, as well as tough chicks and even tougher heroes, I'd definitely recommend this one for you.

Stephanie Loves: "His face remained expressionless, but his eyes filled with an unmistakable masculine glow that Meghan felt all the way down to her toes . . .
Bedroom eyes. The man was looking at her with bedroom eyes."

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