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Genre: Contemporary Romantic Suspense
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Hero: Cole Marinos
Heroine: Shaw Cassidy
Date of Publication: November 11, 2014
Started On: November 5, 2014
Finished On: November 6, 2014
Previously published under the name of Her Forgotten Betrayal, Shattered Witness by Anna DeStefano is a standalone romantic suspense of the contemporary genre. Shaw Cassidy, CEO of Cassidy Global Research wakes up at the hospital, suffering from amnesia after a terrible assault on her at her office premises. Three weeks later, Shaw finds herself living atop High Lake Mountain, trying to summon her elusive memories through rest and recuperation.
FBI Special Agent Cole Marinos insinuates himself into the investigation surrounding Shaw Cassidy for one reason. Shaw had been the only woman he had ever loved, her betrayal being the reason that had sent him away from her life 15 years back. While the whole investigation centers around the fact that the agency thinks Shaw has been selling groundbreaking research to enemies of the US like Iran, Cole believes in Shaw’s innocence. With her memory in tatters and the whole investigation riding on the return of her memory, Cole finds himself going above and beyond the call of his duty when he finds himself protecting Shaw once again, a role he swore to himself that he would never again partake in.
From the moment the presence of Cole penetrates through the fog of sheer terror that surrounds Shaw, her trust in him is an inexplicable one. Her need to move close to him one that embarrasses her on so many levels, making her think that the lonely existence that she had lived up till then had made her that desperate for affection. However, when her memories start rolling back in, Shaw realizes that there is more to Cole than meets the eye, their shared past one which makes her realize just how much Cole had sacrificed for her years back. Racing against a ticking clock and a villain who knows far too well what Cole and Shaw are up to, Cole finds himself taking the risk of losing the woman he loves more than his own life all over again by trying to clear up Shaw’s name and getting to the bottom of who it is that is toying with the both of them.
Shattered Witness is a well written novel. Anne DeStefano has a writing style that draws you in. The one thing that really stood out for me was the villain in the story. Surprising? I know. Though the villain is pretty easy to figure out for the reader, the villain would have won if not for Cole’s intervention. The plan all along had been to discredit and let Shaw take the fall or perhaps even send her to the loony bin. With years of meticulous planning, it would have been achieved had not Cole come riding to Shaw’s rescue. I like a good villain in a suspense novel and I got that in Shattered Witness.
Though Shaw and Cole are well created characters, I found myself on the side of feeling an intense dislike for Shaw. Though it did mellow a bit towards the very end of the story, I found Shaw to be a bit too self-involved perhaps? I could relate to her not being able to be there for Cole the one time he had needed her, which had been the reason why he had walked away all those years back. But from the moment Cole enters her life once again, and though he lies to her about him being an agent of the government which is something he had to do given her fragile frame of mind, Cole is nothing but sensitive to her wants and need for protection. His actions spoke louder than words. But the minute Shaw found out, the only thing she could find to do was lay the blame of them not working out this time around because of Cole and his deception. Ah!
Cole is one of those sexy and protective heroes that ladies will definitely love. However, I wanted him to man up a bit and make Shaw see the error of her thinking. One minute she is scared out of her mind, the next minute she’s the one that initiates the physical intimacy between them and towards the third act, she is throwing all the blame his way. In my opinion, from the very beginning Cole had loved Shaw more than the other way around. Or perhaps it is the protective streak in Cole that is a mile wide that goes to work the minute he sees the woman he loves in danger. Either way, I thought Cole to be a bit of a pushover; sorry to say that, which is why the impact of his character wasn’t as powerful on my emotions as I wanted it to be.
Even with the elements of the story that didn’t quite work out for me, I managed to enjoy the what Shattered Witness has to offer. Judging from the reviews that this story has received up till now, I think I am in the minority of those who feel this way about both Cole and Shaw. Recommended for fans of romantic suspense novels featuring protective heroes. Cole is definitely someone you’d want by your side when there is a mean villain out to get the best of you and you have absolutely no idea as to why.
Final Verdict: A villain that brings the story to life; there’s always a first time for everything.
Breaking her vow not to scare Cole away by doing what she’d longed to since first setting eyes on him, she kissed him. Those inviting lips, chiseled cheekbones, and the lids of his bad-boy eyes. She tasted him . . . and . . . she remembered.
It burst to life within her—a savory mixture of needing and wanting and having. It wasn’t a beginning, the molten desire that consumed her. It held the full-on rage of completion. It was a craving for something she’d denied herself for too long, something that could own her forever in ways that would refuse to let her go.
She brushed his lips with hers. His breath rushed in. Her fingers dug into his biceps, determined to keep him with her if he decided to move away. His body tensed beneath her touch. His mouth inched away, and she prepared to beg. But then his lips crashed back to hers, this man who’d become a bridge between her dreams and her reality. And she was lost, swept along by the need pouring into her from his kiss.
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