Title: Guilty as Sin
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Mystery/Romantic Suspense
Format: Paperback; 464 pages
Publisher: Forever (July 30, 2013)
Author's Website: http://www.jamialden.com/
Notes: Received an ARC from the publisher.
Two days ago fourteen year old Tricia Fuller went missing without a trace. Kate Beckett was asked to come and promote media coverage in the hope that she'll coax someone into providing a clue as to what happened. Her position and notoriety with the St. Anthony's Foundation, named for the patron saint of missing people, is often used to draw national attention to cases of missing children that might otherwise linger in obscurity. For Kate, Sandpoint, Idaho brings back both good and bad memories. As a child her family had vacationed there, but their last vacation had proven fatal as her brother was kidnapped and murdered in that very town. It was his death, and her guilt over it, which set her on her current path in life. If she can prevent another family from going through what she and her family did, then perhaps some of her own guilt will subside. It had been her job that fatal night to babysit her brother, and she had failed him.
Tricia Fuller was last been seen a little before 11:00 PM the night of her disappearance. She'd followed her older sister to a party and when her sister, Brooke, confronted her, she'd told her sister to get back on her bicycle and go home. No one had seen her since. Somewhere between the party and her home, Tricia Fuller met with ill fate.
As had been hoped, Kate's involvement renders a potential, but disturbing lead when a message is left on her windshield...
'She opened the envelope to find two pieces of paper inside. The one was plain printer paper, the message typewritten in black text: "They didn't find her in time. Will this time be any different?"(...)
A jolt of adrenaline shot through her as she pulled out the second page. It was a photocopy of a news article. The headline read. "Local girl, 16, Missing." The accompanying photo showed a pretty girl with big eyes and a wide smile. Her long, light hair--it was hart to tell the exact hue from the black-and-white photo--was held back from her face by a head band.'
Could this disappearance be the handiwork of a serial murderer or is someone deliberately attempting to steer the investigation in the wrong direction? After all, the murderer of the girl in the article was supposedly apprehended. But what if the police had gotten it all wrong? What if the killer was still on the loose? What if the killer was at it again?
This was a most enjoyable read. I was taken a bit by surprise because going off the cover and the title, I was thinking this book would just be another steamy, intense love story, but it was that and much much more. This book had an equal amount of romance and mystery and it was a heady combination. I was hoping this would be the first in a series, but alas, I could find nothing to suggest such a thing. *sniff*
This story begins with a look at Kate's past which is appropriate because by taking on the case she, in a way, has to confront her past head on. While not an investigator, Kate works very close with parents and authorities to help track and find abducted children. On a good day, they find the child unharmed, on a bad day they don't, and its almost as if Kate's reliving her own family tragedy. While getting emotionally wrapped up in a case is not a part of her job, it comes along with the territory, and she'd mentally relive her family tragedy over and over just to save one child.
Many of the people Kate had known during her summers as a child still live in Sandpoint. Among them is the boy, now a man, that she'd been head over heels about when she was 16, Tommy Ibarra. She hadn't seen him since that fatal night when her brother was taken and has mixed emotions about seeing him again. The family of the missing girl, however, is insistent that he be a part of the investigation, so she is forced to work with the only male who has ever been able to make her lose her head, and as she'll soon find out, he still has that ability.
Tommy Ibarra had been nineteen when Kate's brother was abducted and murdered. He'd been on summer break from college when Kate's father, Senator Beckett, had had Tommy's scholarship revoked. He held Tommy as equally negligent, as he did his daughter, for Michael's abduction. Kate and Tommy had left the house to be alone outside on the beach at the time of the kidnapping instead of keeping keeping an eye on Kate's brother. The last time Tommy had seen Kate, 14 years ago, her words to him had been, "You should go. I can't really be around you right now." Time, and what happened, had hardened Tommy over the years and he wasn't the sweet person Kate remembered. The whole experience had changed him, but he'd managed to make something of himself despite her father's efforts to ruin him. He'd become a security expert and owned his own company, and it was his expertise, skills, and knowledge, as well as his friendship with the missing girl's father, that made him an invaluable member of the team trying to find the missing girl. Tommy had thought he'd gotten over his attraction for Kate, but when she shows up, he finds it hard to leave her alone.
I rather enjoyed watching these two seemingly star crossed lovers manage to find each other again. I liked how they worked closely together in an attempt to beat the clock and find the missing girl before it was too late, and how that forced them to get to know each other once again. It was fun seeing them connect the dots of what happened after Michael's tragic death that each knew nothing about. While I guessed early on who would be the ultimate villain, I still enjoyed the story as it unfolded and discovering all that happened in the past and present. The flash backs of the past, along with the flashes of what was happening to Tricia being mixed in with what was happening as the case unraveled, seemed to blend together well--creating an addictive read.
Overall I gave this one 4 1/2 out of 5 roses. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one earned a STEAM rating--too hot for a fan, but you still have a handle on things. You should use extreme caution when reading a book with this rating in public. People may inquire as to why you looked flustered and flushed.