Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Defending the Eyewitness - Rachel Lee (HRS #1795 - Apr 2014)

Series: Conard County: The Next Generation (Book 20)

The note wasn't a threat, exactly. But for Corey Donahue, who'd witnessed her mother's murder as a child, it felt very menacing. Surprisingly, the one person she trusted to show the note to was a man merely renting a room from her--Austin Mendez. Traumatized since childhood, Corey had never trusted men...until Austin moved in.

Six years undercover had caused Austin to shut everyone out...until Corey. The vulnerability she hid from others made him yearn to break down the walls she'd erected around her heart. And with a killer closing in, two lost souls were discovering the trust they'd lost--and much more--in each other's arms.

Very good book, a little different from some previous CC books where there is more action.  Corey has lived in Conard County most of her life.  Her mother was murdered when Corey was seven and she witnessed it, though she has no memory of it.  It has left her with a fear of men, so she avoids them.  She rents out room in her home to other women, and most of her friends are women.  She doesn't date.  When the sheriff asks her to rent those rooms to Austin, she has to think hard about it, but she does.  She's wary around him, but she's getting tired of always being afraid.  Right before Austin arrived, Corey received a strange note in the mail.  It wasn't really threatening, but it was creepy.  When she received another one, she showed it to Austin.

Austin has come to Conard County to recover from six years of undercover work in Mexico.  He's spent so long weighing every word and action that it's going to take him some time to start to feel normal again.  His previous need to read people has enabled him to see Corey's vulnerability, and the way she hides so much of herself from other people.  She's the first person he's wanted to get close to since he got back.  

I loved the growth of the relationship between Corey and Austin.  Both are so wary that it's hard for them  to even talk to each other at first.  Corey's innate kindness makes the first overtures as she apologizes for her apparent rudeness at the beginning.  She struggles at bit, and Austin can see it, so he too makes an effort.  I really enjoyed the way that food and cooking were their initial commonalities.  It was fun to see Austin introduce Corey to Mexican food, and see her amazement at his comfort in talking about it.  Their comfort there made it easier for Corey to confide in him about the notes.  She realized that by getting to know him she had lost her fear of him as a man and begun to trust him. I loved seeing Austin's protectiveness come out when he realized that she might be in danger.  I also enjoyed the fact that he was a very straightforward kind of guy. He was pretty blunt with her about the way she had been hiding out emotionally.  For someone she had just met, it was kind of pushy,  but he had been trying to make a point that he needed her to trust him.

Once that box was opened and Corey began to share what she felt, things started to heat up between them.  Austin had been attracted to her from the beginning, but cautious because of her inexperience. I loved seeing Corey open herself up to the attraction she felt for Austin.  For someone who had been so afraid of men, it said a lot about Austin that she was so hot for him so quickly.  The passion developed into love pretty quickly, but neither wanted to admit it.  Corey knew Austin would have to return to work soon and didn't want to come across as clingy.  Austin was afraid to make any admissions when he still didn't feel like he had his life together.  Corey ended up having a crisis of confidence when Austin was called away, but the ending was really satisfying.

The threat against Corey was real, and it was interesting to see how they made the connection to her mother's murder.  The segments from the perp's point of view showed his motivation.  I loved seeing Corey and Austin talk out their theories and come to some pretty accurate conclusions.  It was interesting to see how Austin realized the danger she was in and helped boost her confidence in herself and her abilities to defend herself, even as he planned to be around to protect her. The showdown was good, but I would have liked to know more about who he was and what was behind his motivations.

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