Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Review of Shattered by Karen Robards

From The Olympian (Washington) --

The Romance Reader: 'Shattered' --

By Lezlie Patterson --
March 17, 2010 --

"Shattered" by Karen Robards; Putnam (2010), 388 pages, $25.95 (hardcover)

Karen Robards has become a master at blending romance and suspense, offering readers a healthy dose of drama while satisfying our yen to watch a strong hero succumb to love.

She does it again in "Shattered."

Last year Robards wrote a compelling story ("Pursuit") that was very heavy on suspense, while still working in satisfactory amounts of romance. This time there seems to be a better balance of romance and suspense, with neither suffering from the other's presence.

On the romance end, Lisa and Scott are perfectly matched. Lisa grew up privileged, the only daughter of an adoring mom who was a well-loved scion of Kentucky's horse breeding world. She grew up as generations of her family had before her, at Grayson Springs, a majestic plantation home surrounded by pastures of horses.

Scott grew up near Lisa, but they were worlds apart. He lived in a dump, with an alcoholic and abusive father. Scott worked odd jobs around Grayson Springs, and his physique caught the interest of spoiled Lisa and her likewise spoiled friends.

But Scott wouldn't play.

Scott worked his way through law school, and became the county's respected district attorney, with his eyes on the governor's seat. And his physique was still quite fine. Lisa was a lawyer in Boston before moving back to Kentucky to take care of her terminally ill mom.

Lisa managed to keep her mom at Grayson Springs, but financially it was crippling. She asked Scott for a job, and he reluctantly hired her as a research assistant.

While sorting through cold case files, Lisa's co-worker found a photograph of a woman who could have been her twin. The woman in the picture, along with her husband and two children, disappeared around the time Lisa was born.

Once Lisa takes that file, her life seems to be threatened. She narrowly escapes death, and finds herself in the middle of a mystery with Scott there to help.

As they try to solve the mystery of Lisa's connection to the missing family, they are forced to admit their feelings for each other.

Overall rating: 4-plus of 5 hearts, even though Robards does leave readers with a few questions. Like, what happened to Grayson Springs? Did Lisa keep working for Scott and if so, did he make her continue as a research assistant? What happened to Scott's family? Robards leaves it to our imaginations to fill in those gaps. Perhaps it is more fun that way, but many of us are suckers for epilogues that answer all these questions in a happily-ever-after manner for us.

Hunk appeal: 10-plus. Scott triumphed over a rotten childhood, but he didn't dwell or brood on it. Major points. He was tough, competent, strong and ruggedly masculine and demonstrated the depth of his feelings for Lisa without giving any of that up. And refusing to be discreet just pushed him right into plus territory.

Steamy scene grade: XXXX. Beyond competent, strong and masculine.

Happily-Ever-After: OK. Oh, the suspense part wrapped up very well, and it was beyond touching to see how quickly Lisa and Scott bonded as a couple. But there were those unanswered questions. So I'm choosing to believe that Grayson Springs was renovated and Lisa and Scott lived there happily with their wonderful healthy children - when they weren't in the Governor's Mansion. I also decided that Scott's father's stint in rehab worked and Ryan sobered up on his own and raised his son well.

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