Touch of Red (Tracers, #12) by Laura Griffin
Series: Tracers Series #12
Published by Pocket Books
Publication Date: October 31st 2017
Genres: Romantic Suspense
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When crime scene investigator Brooke Porter arrives at the home of a murdered woman, the only thing more shocking than the carnage is the evidence that someone escaped the scene. But where is this witness now? A thorough search of the area yields more questions than answers, and before Brooke even packs up her evidence kit, she’s made it her goal to find the witness and get them out of harm’s way.
Homicide detective Sean Byrne has seen his share of bloody crime scenes, but this one is particularly disturbing, especially because Brooke Porter is smack in the middle of it. Sean has had his eye on the sexy CSI for months, and he’s determined to help her with her current case—even if it means putting his attraction on hold so he and Brooke can track down a murderer. But as the investigation—and their relationship—heats up, Sean realizes that keeping his work and his personal life separate is more complicated than he ever imagined; especially when the killer sets his sights on Brooke.
I was excited about CSI Brooke Porter when she was introduced in the last Tracer’s book, and for the most part her story didn’t disappoint. Brooke works for the Delphi Center, and she’s working with detective Sean Byrne to solve a murder. She’s also coming out of a messy, toxic relationship, and that causes some problems for her and her relationship with Sean.
I thought the investigation plot of this book was very strong. I really could not have predicted where this one would end up based on the initial murder! This isn’t a serial killer story like so many of the Tracers books have been, and I admit it was a good change of pace to get something different. Plus the villain is responsible for some awful things, and it’s satisfying to see that person get their just desserts in the end. I also really liked Sean and Brooke, both as individuals and as a couple. I thought they were a great compliment, and I could absolutely see them working out in the long term.
I did have some issues that kept nagging at me after I finished reading, though. First, there’s a plot line with Brooke’s ex-boyfriend that I just didn’t like. He was emotionally abusive and is starting to stalk her in this book. I didn’t see a need for that and felt like it was just gratuitous. Plus, the issue wasn’t really handled seriously in my mind. The whole thing is basically resolved by Sean threatening the guy, which was lame and felt out of character for Sean AND for the ex. That plot point goes nowhere and feels like it’s only there to manufacture a way for Sean to protect Brooke until the major villain starts to focus on her.
The other thing that bothered me was more subtle, and it wasn’t something that even bothered me while I was reading. It was only after, as I started to think about the book, that it started to get under my skin. Brooke doesn’t want a relationship at the start of the book. She admits she’s rushed from bad relationship to bad relationship for years, and she feels like she needs time alone to figure out what she wants and who she is independent of a man. She tells Sean this repeatedly, and he tells her he totally respects that. But then all he does is push her to start something with him. Obviously, Brooke wanted him as well, and it’s clear the reader is supposed to recognize that Sean is a great match for Brooke (and he very much is). My problem isn’t even that Sean sticks around after she tells him she doesn’t want a relationship. My problem is that he says “Yes I totally get it” while secretly thinking “But I really want her so I’ll keep trying to convince her and then she’ll see the light.” I just don’t like it when books subvert the heroine like that. It reinforces the idea that if it’s “true love” it’s ok to push past a woman’s boundaries and ignore what she’s telling you. It didn’t feel necessary, and it didn’t reflect well on Sean in my mind.
Despite these issues, I truly did enjoy this book. It was well paced, a good mix of excitement and geeky investigation, and had a great central couple.
Grade: 4 out of 5