As an older teen, I was totally into the "Love Inspired" romance line—the books were short, cheap, and available at my local Walmart. They were a step up from "Heartsong Presents" (though I loved those books as a young teen—my absolute favorite was Iditarod Dream by Janelle Jamison, aka Tracie Peterson), but as I grew older, I still saw them as "lesser" than other novels.
Perhaps they are, in a sense. After all, they're now published by Harlequin, and I don't think anyone would accuse Harlequin of putting out literary masterpieces. But I've recently read a few "Love Inspired" novels, and they've matched up with what some of the Christian publishers are putting out.
When her big-city dreams come crashing down, Gemma Phillips returns to her small hometown—and finds herself the target of a violent stalker. And her attacker may be linked to the robbery she witnessed years ago…a case reopened after the police discovered a body, supporting her claims of overhearing a murder. Now there's only one man who can save her: lawman Matt O'Dell. For Matt, solving this decades-old mystery will finally allow him to distance himself from his father's criminal past. But Matt's drive to close the case soon turns personal. He needs to guard his reputation…but first, he must protect the woman he's just discovered he loves. Cold Case Witness is a very enjoyable suspense novel. I was drawn in at the very beginning, and I stayed engaged with the novel the whole time. Gemma and Matt are both very likeable characters, and I really enjoyed watching the story unfold.
I especially liked the suspense thread. I was constantly trying to figure out who Gemma's stalker was, and I was soooo wrong! However, the stalker's identity did make sense, even if I never would have gotten there in a million years.
The only thing that didn't ring true to me was the way Matt reacted to a conflict with Gemma near the end of the novel. By this point, it was obvious that someone was trying to kill Gemma. It also was obvious that he was in love with her. So his decision to completely walk away, to leave her protection detail to other officers, didn't make sense to me. Though circumstances dictated a change in the relationship, I can't believe that Matt wouldn't still have done everything in his power to keep Gemma safe. It was Matt's walking away that set in motion the end of the novel, but it felt more to me like a plot device than a realistic reaction.
Aside from that, though, I really enjoyed Cold Case Witness. It's part of Varland's Treasure Point series, and the next novel will release in November. I'm looking forward to it! 4 stars. Buy the book. Sarah Varland lives with her husband and two sons in Alaska, with a view of the mountains that astounds her every day. She loves reading, writing, hiking, kayaking, and baking. Her first book, Treasure Point Secrets, released in 2014 and is set in coastal Georgia. Her second book, Tundra Threat, also released in 2014 and is set in Alaska. Her next few books will return to the coastal town of Treasure Point, Georgia. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Also, some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
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