Author: Kimberly Belle
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Publication Date: September 30, 2014
Source: review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Summary from Goodreads:
Humanitarian aid worker Gia Andrews chases disasters around the globe for a living. It's the perfect lifestyle to keep her far away from her own personal ground zero. Sixteen years ago, Gia's father was imprisoned for brutally killing her stepmother. Now he's come home to die of cancer, and she's responsible for his care—and coming to terms with his guilt.
Gia reluctantly resumes the role of daughter to the town's most infamous murderer, a part complete with protesters on the lawn and death threats that are turning tragedy into front-page news. Returning to life in small-town Tennessee involves rebuilding relationships that distance and turmoil have strained, though finding an emotional anchor in the attractive hometown bartender is certainly helping Gia cope.
As the past unravels before her, Gia will find herself torn between the stories that her family, their friends and neighbors, and even her long-departed stepmother have believed to be real all these years. But in the end, the truth—and all the lies that came before—may have deadlier consequences than she could have ever anticipated.
This book was most definitely a step outside the comfort zone for me. I do enjoy a good thriller, but The Last Breath also has lotsa lotsa burnin' hot romance. And Lord knows, I am usually not one for a romance novel. Just not my thing. However, I gotta say, this time it worked for me. The Last Breath is the perfect murder mystery-slash-love story for a snowy winter's day, and I've certainly got my fair share of those this time of year.
Part of why I was able to suspend my usual disdain for swoony romance elements is because the central mystery of the book is so compelling. The novel opens with the murder of Gia's stepmother (with the culprit left untold, of course), so my interest went sky-high immediately. Belle does a great job of shifting your suspicions throughout the novel, and in the end, I was pleasantly surprised when I found out who really dunnit. Definitely not predictable, and not annoyingly far-fetched (arguably the two worst ways a mystery can end). Also, you've got to love the small-town drama that occurs throughout this novel. While it could be a little overdone at times, I thought many of Gia's interactions with the nosy townsfolk were hilarious.
Is this a mystery novel of the highest literary echelons? No. As I mentioned before, the romance aspects were expectedly fluffy and not my favorite (REALLY, how many times can Gia and Jake get it on? Like while she's dealing with her two absent siblings and the return of her imprisoned father and the mystery of who killed her stepmom? REALLY?). Plus, I had a hard time believing Gia's bad-ass stories of working in humanitarian aid when held up against her personality as illustrated in the rest of the book. However, her relationship with Jake was cute and provided a bit of levity to the rest of the situation (plus an interesting twist), so I was able to forgive it.
Overall, The Last Breath is a perfect choice if you want a cozy mystery, and added bonus if you do enjoy romance novels. Because I'm sure Jake is somebody's ideal book boyfriend (even if he's not mine). :)
Giveaway time, friends!
I have a (gently used) copy of The Last Breath to give away to one of my lucky readers. (US/Canada only please.) Just fill out the Rafflecopter below by February 6 for your chance to win!
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