Tag: Hidden Sins Series

Guest Review: The Surviving Girls by Katee Robert

Posted July 26, 2018 by Jen in Reviews | 5 Comments

Guest Review: The Surviving Girls by Katee RobertReviewer: Jen
The Surviving Girls (Hidden Sins, #3) by Katee Robert
Series: Hidden Sins #3
Also in this series: The Devil's Daughter
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Publication Date: May 29, 2018
Format: eARC
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 282
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

A fierce survivor and a fearless FBI agent battle a copycat serial killer in a gripping thriller from New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Katee Robert.

Twelve years ago, Lei Zhang and her friend Emma Nilsson miraculously lived through the notorious Sorority Row Murders that left twenty-one of their sisters dead. Still wrestling with the trauma but finally out of the limelight, Lei and Emma are now devoted to helping other victims find closure. But most disturbing for Lei—beyond the gut-wrenching survivor guilt—is that the killer was her boyfriend. He’s behind bars, but she’ll never lower her guard again.

When a copycat killer targets Lei and Emma, FBI Agent Dante Young is put in charge of anticipating the sociopath’s every move. But what he doesn’t expect is his immediate and overpowering attraction to Lei. The closer they get to each other, the more desperate and terrifying the questions become: Who wants to finish what the killer started—and why?

Now Agent Young vows to protect Lei at all costs. If they have any chance of a future together, first they have to stay alive…

I can’t even tell you how long I had this book sitting on my phone unread. I probably started it 5 times, read a few pages, and put it down because I just didn’t have the stomach for it. It’s a dark book, and it was just too intense for me to handle at times. (Trigger warnings for graphic violence, gore, and some mentions of rape.) Once I was in the right mood, though, I finally dove in and enjoyed it.

This book focuses on two girls who survived a horrific massacre at their college sorority house. Lei Zhang and Emma Nilsson had their own reactions to the trauma they endured. While Emma has developed a pretty severe panic disorder and various other mental health challenges in response to her fear, Lei’s response to fear is to fight harder and push farther. That’s not to say Lei’s not deeply affected too, because she clearly is, but she just channels things differently. When a new killer surfaces who bears a resemblance to the man that terrorized them years ago, the FBI and Agent Dante Young get involved. Dante and Lei have a somewhat inconvenient attraction to each other, but they have to put it aside while they figure out who seems to be hunting the women again.

As you can imagine, this book is chock full of trauma. Lei and Emma are, of course, profoundly affected by what happened to them, and it is very painful to read about. They have all kinds of coping strategies, some healthy and some not-so-healthy, that have gotten them through.  It’s hard enough at the beginning when their fears seem understandable but perhaps hyperbolic, but it gets downright horrifying as the book progresses and you learn how much danger they’re actually in. For me, this book was creepy and shocking, and it was only when I was in the right mood for those things that I could enjoy it. The plot twists do get a little overblown toward the end, but by that point I was in deep enough to buy in!

Lei and Emma are not pushovers. Lei is the obvious fighter and battles her fear with a sheen of anger, but Emma has more strength to her than others give her credit for. In particular, I loved seeing the women support each other. They did perhaps use each other as a crutch too often, but who the hell could blame them? They never wavered in their love for each other and their desire to keep the other one safe. I really liked that aspect of the book.

I also really liked Dante and Lei together. Dante is calm, cool, and collected, which is a real balm for Lei. He doesn’t have a magic cure for her, though. There is an excellent scene near the beginning where Dante says something kind of paternalistic and Lei rightfully puts him into his place. I was 1000% there for it. Even better, Dante realizes that while he didn’t intend it that way, he was absolutely playing savior and not respecting the hard work Lei did, and still does, to handle her own trauma. That moment sold me on Dante and Lei together!

Unfortunately, while there is a lot of awesome chemistry, there is no sex in this book. I know, I know…that’s normally a problem for me too, but honestly I don’t see any way sex would have worked in this book. The original sorority massacre happened twelve years ago and Lei has had relationships with other men in the interim, so that’s not the issue. But there is just too much genuine danger in this book, and too much horror that keeps being dredged up. Sex would just have been out of place. Things never get farther than some very sexy making out, and for a change I was ok with that.

When did I learn this was in the same series as another Robert book I liked, The Devil’s Daughter? Literally right as I was typing this sentence and I looked up the book on Goodreads! My point is, while it’s a series clearly there is no harm in reading them out of order, because I haven’t read Book 2 and had no clue it even existed. I am really liking Robert’s voice in this series, and I will certainly be backtracking to read the book I missed.

Grade: 4 out of 5

Hidden Sins

four-stars


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Guest Review: The Devil’s Daughter by Katee Robert

Posted January 24, 2017 by Jen in Reviews | 2 Comments

Guest Review: The Devil’s Daughter by Katee RobertReviewer: Jen
The Devil's Daughter by Katee Robert
Series: Hidden Sins #1
Also in this series: The Surviving Girls (Hidden Sins, #3)
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Publication Date: January 24th 2017
Format: eARC
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 301
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Growing up in a small town isn’t easy, especially when you’re the daughter of a local cult leader. Ten years ago, Eden Collins left Clear Springs, Montana, and never once looked back. But when the bodies of murdered young women surface, their corpses violated and marked with tattoos worn by her mother’s followers, Eden, now an FBI agent, can’t turn a blind eye. To catch the killer, she’s going to have to return to the fold.

Sheriff Zach Owens isn’t comfortable putting Eden in danger, even if she is an elite agent. And he certainly wasn’t expecting to be so attracted to her. As calm and cool as she appears, he knows this can’t be a happy homecoming. Zach wants to protect her—from her mother, the cult, and the evil that lurks behind its locked gates. But Eden is his only key to the tight-lipped group, and she may just be closer to the killer than either one of them suspects…

Zach Owens is the police chief in the small town of Clear Springs, Montana. When a local teenage girl is found murdered and another goes missing, suspicion falls on the local cult. Then Eden Collins shows up claiming someone sent her a crime scene picture of the murdered girl. Eden is no random stranger, though. She is an FBI agent who specializes in cults, and she’s also the daughter of the local cult leader. Eden escaped her mother’s clutches years ago, and being back in town is frightening and painful for her, but she feels compelled to help catch the murderer and stop it from happening again. Zach isn’t sure he can trust Eden, but because of her inside knowledge of the cult he needs her help. The closer she gets to the truth, though, the more it seems like Eden herself may be tied up in the case in ways she never expected.

This was an exciting book that kept me hooked till the end. I admit I’m sort of darkly fascinated by cults, so for me the plot of this book was creepy and engaging. The cult leader, Martha Collins, was a great complicated character. She’s a twisted, Machiavellian genius, and Robert kept me guessing about Martha’s motivations right up to the end. Even better, Eden was kept guessing, too. She would think she knew the truth, but then she’d talk to her mom and suddenly have a small seed of doubt. Her mom was a master of gaslighting, so Eden was constantly questioning her judgments and reminding herself that her mom was a manipulator. It made for a tense story, and it highlighted the challenges Eden faced coming back to Clear Springs.

Eden was definitely my favorite part of the book. She didn’t just have a bad childhood; she had a horrific childhood. As one would expect, she has a whole lotta emotional problems as a result, like a compulsion towards perfection and a severe fear of intimacy. But the fact that she was able to rise above her childhood and lead a fairly successful adult life was awesome. What I liked best was her confidence in herself. Given her mother’s tactics and manipulations, it would have been perfectly understandable if Eden was plagued with self doubt. While she can’t escape some of that, overall she trusts herself, which is what allows her to mostly avoid the emotional traps Martha sets for her. She’s not TSTL, and she works hard to put aside her personal issues in order to look at the case objectively. For instance, when she starts to suspect that the case somehow relates to her personally, she doesn’t just brush it off. She acknowledges that maybe she’s too close to look at things clearly and calls in outside help, even though it means admitting to her boss that she’s in over her head. I loved her intelligence and professionalism!

The romance was…fine. I liked Zach well enough, and I did like that right off the bat he doesn’t see Eden as a quick lay. He isn’t dreaming of marriage or anything, but he wants to get to know her and explore whether there might be something more there than simple lust. Because the murder plot was fast paced and tense, though, there wasn’t as much time as I would have liked for Eden and Zach to get to know each other. The ending is definitely a HFN, which I thought made sense. I wasn’t entirely convinced that Eden and Zach could make it work, however, at least not without some major compromises that I’m not sure either would be prepared to make. That left me feeling a little bittersweet about the ending.

This was a fairly dark, gritty book, but it was fast paced, complex, and exciting, and it worked for me.

Grade: 4 out of 5

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

four-stars


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