Earlier this fall, I read Sarah Varland's Cold Case Witness, which was a really enjoyable suspense novel. Now Varland is back with the next entry in her Treasure Point series, and this time the novel is set at Christmas!
When she's snatched off a sidewalk en route to the local Christmas tree lighting, Claire Phillips knows her cozy small town is no longer safe. And when she's saved by a mystery man, she gets another surprise. Her rescuer is none other than Nate Torres—a man from her past that she's tried to forget. He's in town undercover, investigating a drug smuggling ring, and he thinks she's witnessed more than she realizes. Worse, he thinks the ring's leader is a local. Someone she knows and trusts. There's no one for her to rely on but Nate, a man whose action-packed life is worlds away from the security she craves. As the attacks grow more menacing, it will take courage Claire no longer thinks she has to survive to Christmas.
After reading Cold Case Witness, I was very anxious to read Silent Night Shadows. I very much enjoyed Claire's romance with Nate, as well as learning about her past—a past that only Nate was privy to. Claire's story slowly unfolded throughout the novel, and I thought her past was just as interesting as her present.
While the character development, romance, and basic plot in Silent Night Shadows were enjoyable, I found myself let down a bit by the suspense. When I read romantic suspense, I never doubt that the hero and heroine will make it to the end of the novel, so that wasn't the problem. The problem was that the set up of the villains made me think the Big Bad would be someone close to Claire, but the big reveal just felt flat. It wasn't shocking, nor was the true villain anyone close enough to Claire for me to care about. (Yes, it would be shocking to learn that someone I knew even tangentially was a criminal mastermind, but in this type of novel, for the villain's reveal to have true impact, it needs to be someone closely connected to the protagonist. Just my 2¢.)
It's important to note that other readers may be completely satisfied by the suspense in Silent Night Shadows. I felt like Varland set the bar very high in Cold Case Witness, where the suspense thread was superb. So it's in comparison to her previous novel that Silent Night Shadows doesn't quite measure up. Even though I didn't love Silent Night Shadows as much as I'd hoped, I do hope that Varland will continue her Treasure Point series. 3 stars. Buy the book. Read my review of Cold Case Witness (4 stars). 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. 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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