Series: Killer Instinct

Guest Review: Before the Dawn by Cynthia Eden

Posted July 19, 2017 by Jen in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Before the Dawn by Cynthia EdenReviewer: Jen
Before the Dawn by Cynthia Eden
Series: Killer Instinct #2
Also in this series: After the Dark
Published by Harlequin Books
Publication Date: July 25th 2017
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars

The Killer Instinct series from New York Times bestselling author Cynthia Eden continues as an FBI profiler tracks a case that resurrects ghosts from his past

Ex-SEAL Tucker Frost knows that the world is full of evil. He saw it in the face of his own brother, Mason Frost, a cold, methodical, sadistic killer. A killer Tucker put down with his own hands in order to save Mason's final victim—Dawn Alexander, the only girl who got away from the infamous "Iceman."

It's Tucker's up close and personal experience with evil that's made him perfect for Samantha Dark's experimental profiling division in the FBI. Samantha wants agents who have personal ties with killers, who have unique insights into the minds of monsters. And when women start turning up murdered with the same MO used by the Iceman, Tucker is sent back to Louisiana to investigate.

The last person he expects to see is his ex-lover, Dawn. Ten full years have passed since the night that Tucker faced down his brother…and since he last saw Dawn. But the dark need still burns just as hot between Tucker and Dawn. As they grapple with a desire that never died, they must also face the shared shadow from their pasts. Both Tucker and Dawn have the same question—has Mason Frost come back from the dead to hunt again? And this time, will he succeed in killing the victim who got away?

I have been on a major Cynthia Eden kick this year. Fortunately, she’s publishing books nearly as fast as I can read them, plus her back list is huge, so I have plenty to keep me entertained. Before Dawn is the newest book in her Killer Instincts series, which centers around a special FBI team made up of people with some kind of personal connection to killers. Eden has several series going right now, and they are tied together in various ways. For instance, there are a couple Harlequin Intrigue titles that are not marked as part of the Killer Instincts series but that really are tied in. And then I swear some of her LOST series books also crossover, but I could not for the life of me remember which ones and how they tied in. Moreover, because I’m confused about the order, I don’t read them in order, so I keep reading Eden books and being pleasantly surprised to find I’m reading the story of a character I already learned about in some other Eden book. Basically, I’m saying it’s damn confusing and I have no idea how to untangle the threads. You’re on your own.

What I can do is tell you about Before Dawn, though! I really loved the first book in the series, After the Dark. As I said, the series is about this special team of people with connections to killers, which is pretty unbelievable but makes for a superb book premise. This time, we meet Tucker Frost, whose brother was a serial killer. His final attempted victim was Tucker’s girlfriend, Dawn. Tucker killed his brother to save Dawn, but because his brother messed with Dawn’s head, and because he looked just like Tucker, Dawn was understandably traumatized, and her relationship with Tucker didn’t survive. Tucker has spent his life trying to prove he isn’t his brother and atone for what his brother did. Dawn, on the other hand, hardened after her attack and is still dealing with the psychological trauma. When Tucker returns to town to investigate some recent murders that bear a striking resemblance to his brother’s crimes, he and Dawn have to deal with their past and work together to figure out what’s going on.

I liked Dawn and Tucker as characters. Dawn was prickly and smart, but she’s clearly still suffering greatly from her earlier attack. It was a bit hard to read sometimes, especially the flashbacks to when Tucker’s brother had her captive. He was physically brutal and manipulated her into doubting Tucker. It was totally understandable that Dawn would struggle to be around Tucker later. Tucker was great, too. He tried to be there for Dawn after her attack, but when he realized his presence was too painful, he disappeared from her life. My heart hurt for him, because what an impossible situation to be in! I appreciated that he tried to let Dawn set the tone for their interactions, and all he wanted was for her to be at peace.

I did have some niggling doubts about whether Tucker and Dawn could really move beyond their past, though. Dawn was terrorized by a man with Tucker’s face. Was it really possible for her to see beyond that? Dawn clearly still needed a lot of serious professional help to process her trauma. I’m not sure love would be enough, even ten years on. I also felt like the intense alpha-schtick Eden usually writes was a little out of place here. Dawn wasn’t breakable, but I kind of wanted Tucker to tone it down. You’re trying to convince her you’re nothing like your violent brother, so maybe dial it back a bit, huh dude?

I didn’t enjoy this one as much as After the Dark, but it was still a good read.

Grade: 4 out of 5

*I received a review copy of this book from the publisher.

four-stars


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Guest Review: After the Dark by Cynthia Eden

Posted March 29, 2017 by Jen in Reviews | 3 Comments

Guest Review: After the Dark by Cynthia EdenReviewer: Jen
After the Dark by Cynthia Eden
Series: Killer Instinct #1
Also in this series: Before the Dawn
Published by Harlequin, HQN Books
Publication Date: March 28th 2017
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 384
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars

In New York Times bestselling author Cynthia Eden's gripping new series, a disgraced FBI profiler must save her reputation by stopping a sadistic killer she knows all too well.

Former FBI agent Samantha Dark was one of the most respected profilers in the bureau, an expert on the twisted minds and dark hearts of the most depraved criminals. But when her own former lover turned out to be the serial killer she was hunting, Samantha's career was destroyed. Blamed for the FBI's failure on the complex case, Samantha fled Washington, DC, for the quiet anonymity of Alabama.

Now an all-too-familiar killer is hunting once again. She can catch the sadistic assassin, but that means putting her trust in her former partner, Blake Gamble. Ex-military, Blake is tough, protective, precise. With her entire life on the brink, she knows he wants her back in the FBI…and possibly more.

But someone else wants her, too. A threat is waiting in the dark, a killer who has set his sights on the ultimate trophy victim—Samantha.

Cynthia Eden has become a pretty reliable author for me. Her books never totally blow me away, but they’re always  very solid, enjoyable reads, and After the Dark was no exception.

Samantha Dark was a genius criminal profiler with the FBI, but she left the Bureau in disgrace after her former boyfriend turned out to be a serial killer. She hides away in a small town in Alabama until her old partner, Blake, comes calling looking for help with a case. Blake had the hots for Samantha from the start, but obviously being partners complicated that attraction, and he never acted on it. Now, he wants her back, both in the FBI and in his own life, but Samantha doesn’t trust herself and certainly doesn’t think she’s good enough for a decent man like Blake. However, she’s the only one who can stop the killer who’s become fixated on her.

I really liked the premise of this book. The idea that a profiler could miss that her own friend was a serial killer was very compelling. Plus, Cameron wasn’t just Samantha’s friend but her past lover and confidant with whom she had shared her deepest, darkest secrets. While it’s not really addressed in the book, it seemed to me that Cameron had probably been emotionally manipulating her for years. He convinced her that there was this darkness in her that only he understood, and even after she’s left the Bureau she still holds on to this idea that she’s got some kind of not-entirely-good core. Couple that with her disgraceful exit from the FBI and it made sense why she would be so reluctant to help Blake and to get personally involved with him. It was a unique twist on a serial killer story I haven’t seen before. I also liked that the case wasn’t quite as simple as it first appeared. There were some big twists and turns, and they made for a fast paced and exciting story.

Blake was kind of a mixed character for me. He was one of Eden’s trademark alphas, bossy and in charge. He is the one who comes to Samantha for help, but then he also tries to edge her out when things get dangerous. That was stupid and unnecessary, I thought. Still, his genuine care for Samantha is clear. He stands up to his boss when his boss doubts her, and he isn’t afraid to go after Samantha once he’s found her again. He insists he too has a “darkness” in him, but I didn’t really feel like that went anywhere. To be honest, this story is more about Samantha and her struggle to overcome her past and her self doubt, which was fine by me.

This was an engaging story with a fascinating heroine, and I’m glad I read it.

Grade: 4 out of 5

*I received a review copy of this book from the publisher.

four-stars


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