Title: Within Temptation (Sons of Temptation #1)
Author: Tanya Holmes
Release Date: May 12, 2014
Category: Romantic Mystery/Romantic Suspense. This is not erotica or romantica. This is a romance centered around a murder mystery.
Heat Factor: 3 out of 5 — The sexual tension is high, and the burn is slow. Sex is character-driven, rather than plot-driven.
Love, betrayal and murder in a small town….
Twelve years after her mother’s murder, Shannon Bradford fears she may have helped convict an innocent man. Even worse, her prominent family may have had something to do with it. Desperate for answers, she seeks help from the one person least likely to give it. Her best friend and childhood crush, Trace Dawson. The man she sent to prison.
Serving hard time for murder has left Trace angry and bitter. As far as he’s concerned, digging into the past won’t replace the years he’s lost or erase the hell he’s lived. Now that he’s free, Shannon Bradford tops his list of bad memories. But he never counted on falling in love.
Set in a sleepy little town during the dead of winter, this award-winning romance novel is a tale of one woman’s quest for truth and a man’s struggle to forgive.
“MEMORIES flooded my mind, of the quiet riot he was, of the secret crush I’d had on him, and the extraordinary friendship we’d shared so many years ago. As fast as those images came, others replaced them. I was thrust back to the crime scene, back to Mother’s corpse and the shirtless eighteen-year-old roaring obscenities while Sheriff Gray and a deputy dragged him away in handcuffs.” — Within Temptation
Trace ripped the front door open, flooding the porch with light. There he stood, an unsettling combination of heaven and hell poured into a tight black T-shirt and jeans that hung below his narrow hips in a way Auntie would’ve deemed vulgar.
We stared at each other for half an eternity as Ray Charles crooned, “You Don’t Know Me” from somewhere in the house.
“Take a wrong turn?” he asked, ice dancing in his eyes.
His jaw worked. “Four days, two hours, and twenty-three minutes of sorry. You get my messages?”
I nodded in shame. “I just…”
My breath escaped in a misty cloud. “I should’ve called.”
“You think?” He studied me in angry silence for a time. “Lose the hood.”
“The hood.” He nudged his chin. “Take it off.”
He was testing me. His ‘you’re ashamed of me’ look was unmistakable. So I did as he asked. I tugged it down. “Satisfied?”
Trace swung the door all the way open and his arm formed an arch. I studied the man-made entrance with caution, then ducked beneath it and went inside.
He kicked the door shut.
Unbuttoning my coat, I watched him lean against a wall, arms folded. It may have been my imagination, but he seemed to study me with the same lethal aloofness of a cat watching an unsuspecting mouse—right before the pounce.
To steady my frayed nerves, I concentrated on the beautiful living room. He was renovating. I smelled paint, and drop cloth draped the floor in the adjacent dining room, which he’d jammed with tools and supplies.
An ornate brass floor lamp stood attached to an extension cord that snaked down the hall to what I assumed was the kitchen. A cute tabletop Christmas tree, complete with tinsel, golden ornaments, and candy canes was propped on a twenty-five-inch TV. The pine floor had been polished to a high gloss. Beige paint with alabaster molding covered the walls. Stylish brass vent and outlet covers complemented the gilded vintage ceiling fan above them.
I gestured. “You’ve been busy.”
“Yeah. My shrink thought it’d be therapeutic.”
“You do good work.” I tore my eyes from his sullen face. “It’s beautiful.”
“But a far cry from the fancy digs you’re used to.”
It wasn’t said maliciously. In fact, there’d been a ring of humility in his tone that had almost bordered on apologetic.
“My tastes are simplistic,” I said. “I fell in love with a dilapidated Queen Anne Victorian, but I didn’t trust my instincts. I hesitated. Now it’s under contract.” I turned to him and sighed. “Speaking of which, I may have a job for you. The couple buying it needs a good carpenter. Can I give them your number?”
He hitched a shoulder. “Uh, yeah. Sure.”
“When do you think you’ll be finished here?”
“In a few months.” He lifted a brow. “Guess I’ll be needing a real estate agent.”
“Look no further.” I tried to smile, but it felt lame. What had happened at the club and my vanishing act screamed in his eyes. “So, do you have a place picked out or….”
“Naw.” He paused, then in a serious tone added, “I’m leaving Temptation the second my parole year is up. Sooner if I can get a transfer.”
My smile froze. He’s leaving? “Ah, th-that’s understandable. What, with everything that’s happened.”
“Exactly. There’s really nothin’ keeping me from going, is there?” He paused for a beat, tilted his head, and cocked a brow. “Cholly’s got his own life. Mama and Daddy are gone. Bev’s married, and if Cole ever gets out, I’ve got to find a way to help him—but not here. Not in this town.”
Fearing, dreading, I hesitated before asking, “Will you at least stay in West Virginia?” I cleared my suddenly dry throat. “Or will you move away?”
“What do you think?” He gave the room a fleeting glance. “Three tenants lived here over the past twelve months. When they heard about what happened, they hauled ass. So selling this shack won’t be easy. Either way, I figure I’ll check out the West Coast. Maybe Washington state.”
It felt like he’d reached across the room and punched me in the stomach.
*faints* *slaps face to wake up* Romantic suspense is making a come back. Yes, a comeback. It seems like the past couple of years, my favorite genre has been sliding to the back of the line. Thanks to a trilogy that Harlie dares not speak of and the trash that has followed in its wake. But I digress. My go to authors haven’t been writing in the category for some time and its has become harder for me to find a really good honest to goodness heart in the throat suspense book in awhile. I’ve read some really good ones of late and they have been reviewed on the blog. All that said, Ms. Homes has crafted a good old fashioned who dunnit without being crass, too violent or having the hero/heroine have sex in the first couple of chapters.
Ms. Holmes knows her craft and it shows. I never did figure it out until it was revealed to me in the end. That’s a good suspense writer. Keeping me on the edge of seat wondering…Plus, the book is not violent for shock value. Yes, do we get the details on the murder? Sure, but only in bits and pieces. And when the final reveal is done…Wow! Again, never saw it coming but the murderer made sense.
Ms. Holmes touches on some subjects that might be triggers for some. Child abuse is a subject that is hard to write about. Repressed memories are another one. Trace and Shannon have suffered by both in their lives. It is handled with a deft hand and is a very important part of their growth as individuals and as a couple.
Trace is a dream. Yes, he’s a con but underneath all of that is a man that never forgot the only person he ever fell in love with…Shannon. Growing up together they relied on each other for comfort, support and overall…acceptance when others wouldn’t. The love story in the book is a slow build and if you are looking for sex scene after sex scene, this book isn’t for you. Why? Because when they do finally have sex, its beautiful, emotion and perfect for the characters. Its not rushed and when Shannon reveals to Trace her sexual history, it was breath through for both characters.
Shannon’s family is nasty. Just nasty. I can’t believe the crap that she had endured for all those years and when the memories finally come back…her character took off. Grew a backbone and even with Darien (her fiance), she was a woman to be dealt with. Yes, I liked Darien in the end. He actually had morals and realized his mistake in the whole matter.
Trace’s family wasn’t much better but you could see the love that he had for Cole and Bev. He wanted better for them but at the time it just wasn’t gonna happen. I can’t wait for Cole’s book next year. It should be a doozy and a half. 😉
I would suggest that you read Ms. Holmes DEBUT, yes debut book. It will bring back fond memories of Linda Howard (at her best) and Sandra Brown’s earlier work. Taunting writing, atmospheric in nature and characters that you will fall in love with from the beginning. Did I mention that Romantic Suspense is making a comeback? Ms. Holmes proves my point.
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About the Author
Tanya Holmes is a former Romance Writers of America Golden Heart finalist, a recipient of the Maggie Award, the MICA Award, as well as Overall Winner of the Sandy Haddad Award and a two-time finalist and one-time winner of The Emily (Best of the Best). She’s happily married with children and loves reading, writing and a good cup of coffee—but not necessarily in that order. Her debut novel, Within Temptation is due out on May 12, 2014.
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