Read with: iBooks for iPad
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Hero: Cole McDonough
Heroine: Sarah Jane Baker / Olivia West
Date of Publication: July 1, 2015
Started On: January 20, 2016
Finished On: January 22, 2016
She tied him a fly, using a pattern she’d designed, one that had given her untold luck with those silvery fish, those fighting steelhead. She was anxious for his return.
“Does it have a name?” he said, when she gave it to him.
“The Predator.” She smiled. A little embarrassed.
His eyes turned dark, and her heart beat faster. His voice dipped low. “It’s a fine name.”
He regarded her for several heavy, silent beats. She felt an atavistic pull, the hairs on her arms rising toward him, as if in electrical attraction. He leaned closer and her mouth turned dry. And he told her about the wild blueberries. Down by the bend in the river.
She took the lure.
She went in search of the berries.
She never came home.
Some books are hard to review because lets face it, they were really not worth the time and investment you placed in reading them. But others, they are tough because you are afraid that you wouldn’t be able to do justice to what the book did to you. It ravages you in a way you would never forget anytime soon. It brings forth emotions that you thought you wouldn’t ever feel. It violates and heals you in equal doses and you know you would never feel the same, ever again. A Dark Lure was that kind of book for me. It is dark, incredibly dark, which is why I loved it so much, not to mention the fact that Loreth Anne White has a penchant for writing the kind of stories that makes you feel one with the tale as it unfolds, the best kind of stories if you ask me.
Sarah Jane Baker or Olivia West as she is known as later on, is a survivor. A survivor of a terrible ordeal which had seen her imprisoned by the infamous Watt Lake Killer. She is the one who got away from the killer’s clutches and lived to tell the tale of the horrors that she experienced at his hand. Almost 12 years to the day that Sarah was taken, the Watt Lake Killer returns, determined to finish the hunt that he had started years back – the brief reprieve that had happened only wetting his appetite for his Sarah all the more!
Cole McDonough is an ex-military psychology and philosophy scholar turned war correspondent turned narrative nonfiction adventure writer, who has made a name for himself with the evocative books he has written. The words he writes on paper speaks to Olivia on a level that she knows spells trouble. But the imminent death of her dear friend who is Cole’s estranged father makes her throw caution to the wind and summons the prodigal son home after 13 long years. Which means that there is no turning away from the answering need that flares to life in Cole, a man who had been on the verge of giving up because life had dealt him a cruel blow in a life that had been lived chasing one story after another.
Olivia’s whole world is thrown off kilter when the flashbacks begin, the panic and anxiety that she had lived through and survived before comes knocking on her door once again, the seemingly coincidental happenings around the ranch being all too close for comfort to what had happened to her all those years back. And all the while, the killer lurks in the shadows, drawing her deeper into a web of his making, determined that he wouldn’t lose to her this time around.
Loreth has penned a tale that practically takes your breathe away with this one. Be it the killer, the hero or heroine or even the secondary characters, there is no one that appears to be of the cookie cutter variety. I loved the fact that the villain, instead of being the hideous looking versions they are in most books, the Watt Lake Killer turned out to be as charming as they come. His ability to draw people towards him, be it man or woman, was what fascinated me. His past as it was revealed in bits and pieces – not enough to appease my appetite for more, was one that unsettled me. Well, his whole character was unsettling in one way or another and that was the sheer brilliance in it for me. A villain that makes you think and wants to explore beyond the mere projections on paper is one that intrigues me. I loved A Dark Lure for that very reason!
Loreth’s mastery comes to light in the way she juggles the voices of three different “writers” in this story. There is Loreth’s own voice. Then there is Cole, who is a writer of a different kind who writes nonfiction on survivalists whereas Melody Vanderbilt, whose unpublished manuscript tells the tale of what took place almost 12 years back, how Sarah had been ensnared in the trap laid out by an enigmatic killer and gone missing; that was one of the cleverest parts of the plot if you ask me. To read about the tragedy, the one that had made Olivia West out of Sarah Jane Baker, the story of how Sarah had had to go through all of it all alone; that was sheer genius on the part of Loreth and I cannot rave about it just enough.
Olivia’s story is an extraordinary one of strength, survival, fortitude and human instinct to protect oneself. It was amazing the fact that she had managed to carve a different sort of woman out of herself and being able to weather it through. I am not making light of what she went through. No, never that. She had plummeted to the lowest of the lows, the physical scars on her body just a surface indicator of what she had been subjected to, gone through and come out stronger, all because of it. Olivia is vulnerable to her very core, but she has learnt the hard way to tamp down on that vulnerability and project strength from within.
The fact that she is able to empathize, love and care for others even after having witnessed the darkest of human nature is one of the many reasons to love and admire her character. The painful memories of what she’d undergone are ones that keeps the pages turning, your heart shaking. In a way, Cole’s musings were spot on. How does anyone for that matter, ever move on from something like that? Would they ever be “normal”? Or would they have to carve a new “normal” that works for them and just make the best of it? All of these are thoughts that haunts you long after you are done and you can’t help but be moved on a level that is beyond your understanding.
Cole makes for the perfect partner for someone like Olivia who would most likely live through a lifelong process of healing. There is no pill in the world, no amount of therapy in the world that would ever make someone who had gone through what Olivia had whole in a sense that we think is what should be. I believe that Cole’s patience, abundance of empathy and the life he has led till then is what makes him the perfect person to bring Olivia out of hiding from her emotions and the love that she craves above all else. A beautiful and passionate woman as Olivia should not live hiding from her true nature. And I believe that given time, she’d get there with Cole by her side.
Loreth’s writing is one that is deeply evocative. It is descriptive in a way that makes you feel like you are inside the pages, haunted by the trees shrouded in darkness, where evil lurks just beneath the surface. It makes you feel the rioting emotions that courses through Olivia as she feels the ground shake beneath her, pulling her headlong into a nightmare she’d already once lived through and survived. It makes you see the pain, darkness and the fluttering hope that lies at the heart of the characters who are all scarred in one way or other, as they are brought together by the machinations of fate. It makes you hear even the owl that hoots, as it watches through the darkness to the evil stalks you and once again melts into the night, leaving your heart rapidly thumping in your chest in its wake. Few authors can bring forth these emotions as such when you turn the pages and this is exactly why I would keep coming back for more!
Loreth’s stories are all consuming. Every book that I’ve read from hers has been better than the previous one in that regard. I fervently hope that the trend continues because Loreth has become my go to author for romantic suspense of the dark variety. I now have to lie patiently in wait until Loreth’s newest romantic suspense, In the Barren Ground hits the stands come August 16. Guess till then, I would have to satisfy myself with some of Loreth’s Harlequin Intrigue titles that sounds like they would deliver stellar reads.
Absolutely, definitely, recommended!
Final Verdict: Incredible storytelling from start to finish! Kept me mesmerized all throughout!
Cole drew her more firmly against his body, his mouth pressing down harder. Blinding desire swelled through her, obliterating all thought, all memories as she opened her mouth under his. His tongue slipped into her mouth, tasting, devouring her, and she leaned up into his kiss, into his solid body, her tongue tangling furiously with his as her own hunger consumed her.
His stubble was rough against her face. It made her more fierce, hungrier. She felt the hard length of his erection press against her pelvis as he backed her toward her cabin.
Anticipation, anger, fear—it all smashed through her as she closed her eyes tightly and angled down onto his cock, opening her legs wider as she sank inch by inch onto the delicious length of hard, hot shaft. Her breath caught at the shock of the sensation of him inside her. But she pushed against pain until he was in to the hilt, right up against her inner core. And she felt a sweet, quivering explosion of wetness as she adjusted to the size of him. It was an exquisite, titillating kind of hurt that just drove her higher, wilder.