Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Karen Rose -- Don't Tell

Rated: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥   {5.00}
Action: ♠♠♠♠. / Emotion: ♣♣♣♣♣ / Romance: ♥♥♥♥ / Sensuous: ♦♦♦. / Suspense: ♠♠♠♠♠
Action: 4.5 / Emotion: 5 / Romance: 4 / Sensuous: 3.5 / Suspense: 5 // Humor: 16 / Tears: 17

Karen Rose opened her first book, Don't Tell, by painting a graphic picture of hopelessness.   To the Asheville General doctors looking after Mary Grace, it looks like the Asheville, North Carolina Police Officer, Rob Winters, is solicitously kissing his wife's severely bruised and battered face.   Only Mary Grace knows that he is whispering threatening words in her ear.

Nine years later, a journey featuring multiple locales and characters begins.   Have a friend who hates this style of writing -- the process of hop-skipping between characters and locations, but Rose weaves the various threads of this plot line so seamlessly, that the jump between characters and locales works beautifully to build suspense and reveal incredible amounts of information in a fascinating manner.

Not that we would be tempted to feel compassion for the wife battering police officer, nevertheless, Rose cleverly and subtly removes any essence of warmth from this character by addressing him as "Winters" juxtaposed against addressing every other character by their first name.   Thankfully, readers do not have to spend massive amounts of time in the mind of Winters as he brutalizes information from witnesses and bemoans his fate to be surrounded by stupid women (because, after all, he has yet to encounter a woman who isn't lacking in intellect and needs a firm fist to give them direction).

When Winters' commanding officer, Lieutenant Antoinette "Toni" Ross (not only a woman, but a stupid black woman who stole his job), informs him that the car his wife and son disappeared in seven years ago has been pulled from Douglas Lake (East Tennessee), a chain of events occurs to set Winters on the path to finding (and exacting retribution) on the people who took his son from him.   One link of that chain is that Toni Ross calls in an unbiased officer, "not connected to Asheville PD" to investigate the potentially politically disastrous investigation of a police officer who could be responsible for killing his wife and son seven years ago.

The magic that is Karen Rose is that she takes this dark and nightmarish situation and shines a light of humor into the plot by giving her characters rich well-developed personalities.   Rose does not have to describe the attributes her characters possess because they are richly portrayed by the dialogues that ensue and the thought processes they exhibit.

One such magical secondary character is Special Agent Steven Thatcher of the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation.   Steven is sent to Asheville to work with Toni to reopen the cold case on the disappearance of Mary Grace and Robbie Winters.   As Steven (widower with three sons) agrees to go on another blind date set up for him by Aunt Helen only because the girl's father has a marvelous fishing boat, the stage is set for readers to be inundated with the passions in Steven's life -- his sons and fishing.   But what makes Steven such a wonderful addition to the cast is the snarky thoughts that pepper the investigation.

A great example of Rose's humor can be found when Steven is hostilely greeted by Detective Ben Jolley (friend and cohort to Winters) upon entering detectives row at the Asheville Police Department.

. . . This was more than a hostile glance, and more than Steven had expected.   "You might as well turn around and head back to wherever you crawled here from."

"Steven drew a deep breath, rapidly concluding it would be unwise to tell Jolley he'd ended a sentence with a preposition." (page 77)
Rose writes such great supporting characters, that even the ones that play minor roles are memorable.   Quiet, intriguing ones such as golden-boy Detective Jonathan Lambert who is assigned to the Winters case.   Bruised, scared and battered ones, such as Sue Ann Broughton, Winters' current live-in punching bag.

Meanwhile, way off in Chicago . . .

Steven's irreverence is matched by heroine Caroline Stewart (ex-Mary Grace) and her best friend and rescuer, Dana Dupinsky, manager of Hanover House, the safe house Caroline and Tom (ex-Robbie) fled to seven years ago.   We meet Caroline, Dana and Tom as they talk about the death of Caroline's boss, friend and mentor, Eli Bradford, and wonder what her new boss, history professor, Dr. Maximilian Alexander Hunter will be like.   The dialogue is realistic as they share girl talk and smart aleck remarks, yet they obviously share a strong emotional connection full of compassion.

Dana:   "You'll be fine."
              Caroline glared mildly from the corner of her eye.   "You always say that."
Dana:   "I'm always right."
              Caroline smiled.   "You're such a fathead."
Dana:   "But I'm a fathead who's right." (page 16)
The humor doesn't stop there.   Caroline is thrown for a loop because Max is a gorgeous specimen of hunkiness.   For the first time in her life, Caroline is attracted to a man.   Thankfully she notices that the interest is mutual.   Yet, insecurities abound when Max fails to walk Caroline back to the office after he teaches class "chatting it up with the two voluptuous beauties that sat in the front row, hanging on his every word.   Missi and Stephie." . . .   But the piece de la resistance is:

"And they got decent grades to boot.   They didn't even have the decency to be stupid blond bimbos that would flunk out and be forced to marry men fifty years their senior." (page 74)
The darkness and light has been introduced into the book, now for the romance and emotional angst.   Naturally, Caroline is going to have serious relationship issues because she has lived with a man who battered her on a regular basis until she was able to escape.   However, Caroline is not the only star who suffers from serious emotional trauma.

Even though he is a gorgeous hunk of man who easily attracts women, Max, returned to Chicago (and his family roots) after fleeing to Denver twelve years ago when he lost the ability to walk in a serious car accident with his father.   Because Max had such a wonderful, loving, supportive family, he could now walk, but he was embarrassed by the scars the accident left and by the fact that he had to use a cane to walk.

Max's best friend and brother, David, played an instrumental role in Max's recovery.   David is another supporting character that is hilarious, compassionate, and adds great depth to the development of Max's character.   Just as Caroline uses Dana as a sounding board to exchange witty and profound dialogue, so Max has David to keep him on the straight and narrow.   It is absolutely impossible to read the scene when David saves Max and Caroline from their barracuda co-worker, history professor, Monika Shaw, without laughing out loud.

Max and Caroline are engaged in a fast and furious romance (he asks her out to dinner one day after meeting her).   It is a good thing that Max and Caroline don't mess around with a long courtship because they have enough other issues hanging over their heads to put knots in the threads of the tapestry of their happily-ever-after.   Thankfully, Max and Caroline quickly fall in love so they can engage in a hot, spicy, emotional, magic lovemaking session before the intense action and intrigue of the story takes over completely.

One knot in the way of a happily-ever-after is Caroline's "too wise for his years" fourteen-year-old son, Tom.   Tom (another well-developed supporting character) does not trust men and is understandably worried about any man becoming involved in the life of his mother, particularly one who will have to be told their deep, dark secrets should his mother fall in love.   Tom is such an amazing character.   He acts like a boy one minute and a man the next.   Can not wait for him to age so he can have his own book.

Several other knots in the tapestry involve the obvious angst in the lives of the hero (scars and cane) and heroine (scars and battered wife syndrome).   Max had two other serious emotional barriers he had to overcome to became the supportive man Caroline needed in her life.   Likewise, Caroline had two more emotional issues hiding in the background to eventually spring on readers with even more angst than we could imagine.   Could not believe how much emotional trauma Rose can throw into one book.

To conclude, Don't Tell, is a must read for Romantic Suspense readers who like: {1} an amazingly strong heroine; {2} a hunky, flawed, but eventually comes to the rescue hero; {3} emotional and physical attraction between protagonists followed by spicy, heated love scenes; {4} suspense so intense that must jump up from chair and pace before can keep reading; {5} plenty of police procedural action as secondary characters try to catch the villain; {6} awesomely wonderful well-written and well-developed supporting characters; {7} realistic, funny, emotionally engaging dialogue; {8} great guffaws of laughter; and {9} copious tears.   Not only is Don't Tell on my "to be re-read list," but it is already stored in the suitcase that contains the books that must end up on the imaginary deserted island that "Obsessive Readers Only" know about.

Okay, if you insist.   Found one little thing that was not perfect about this book.   On pages 224 and 226, the dates were wrong.   Certainly not worth deducting points -- it could be the typist's fault.
--Vonda M. Reid (Tuesday; April 19, 2011 : 2:00 a.m.)

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Karen Rose Novels

# Date Title Hero Heroine
01.07-2003Don't TellDr. Maximilian "Max" Alexander HunterCaroline Stewart / Mary Grace Winters
02.02-2004Have You Seen Her?Special Agent Steven Thatcher, NC SBIDr. Jenna Marshall, Teacher
03.10-2004I'm Watching YouDetective Abe ReaganKristen Mayhew, ASA
04.08-2005Nothing To FearEthan Buchanan, Security SpecialistDana Dupinsky, Woman's Shelter Manager
05.12-2005Dirty Secrets [1]Christopher Walker, ProfessorDr. Emma Townsend
06.04-2006You Can't HideDetective Aidan ReaganDr. Tess Ciccotelli, Psychiatrist
07.02-2007Count To TenLieutenant Reed SollidayDetective Mia Mitchell
08.09-2007Die For Me [2]Detective Vito CiccotelliDr. Sophie Johannsen, Archaeologist
09.05-2008Scream For Me [2]Special Agent Daniel Vartanian, NC SBIAlex Fallon, RN
10.02-2009Kill For Me [2]Special Agent Luke Papadopoulis, NC SBISusannah Vartanian, NY ASA
11.08-2009I Can See YouDetective Noah WebsterEve "Evie" Wilson, Student
12.06-2010Silent ScreamFirefighter David HunterDetective Olivia Sutherland
13.06-2011You Belong To Me [3]Detective J.D. FitzpatrickDr. Lucy Trask, Pathologist
14.06-2012No One Left To Tell [3]Grayson Smith, State's AttorneyPaige Holden, Private Investigator
[1]   novella in book: Hot Pursuit (with Carla Cassidy and Annie Solomon)
[2]   these three books are tied together: The Vartanian Trilogy
[3]   these books are part of The Baltimore Series

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Don't Tell Quotations:
73. . .   She didn't like this.   Not one little bit.   The whole man-woman-seek-and-chase thing was highly overrated.   . . .
73. . .   she wished she'd gone another few years without knowing exactly what she'd been missing.   It was primitive.   She shuddered and squeezed her legs together.
82. . .   He wanted a woman, the right woman, to revolve her life around him, or at least he wanted to be the center of her thoughts.   Of her heart.   He'd wanted to be the center of a woman's heart for a long time.   It was no deeply hidden secret, at least from himself.   He wanted someone to care for him, to listen to him.   To look at him with unmitigated desire in her eyes.   . . .
189. . .   It was something small he remembered his own father doing.   Undivided attention and unbroken eye contact even with the smallest child.   It had made him feel like he was the smartest, most important boy in the world.   . . .
249. . .   the bitterness had become a close, if not hated, bedfellow.   Twelve years of anguish was a hard thing to simply erase.   He'd tried.   . . .
295She pressed the fingertips of her free hand to her cheek, feeling the rush of heat.   Mercy.   The man could melt her into a puddle of goo with just his voice.   . . .
335. . .   Depression that eats at you until you wish you were dead. . . .
338. . .   it was an incredible shock to a man like him -- a man whose parents had loved one another and their children openly and without restraint.   . . .

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Characters Found In "Don't Tell"

Character / Location Description / Relationships Found In
Sy Adelman
Chicago, IL
elderly gentleman; Caroline's neighbor; sitting on steps; introduced to Max (117) balding head (288) // Caroline Stewart's downstairs neighbor01. Don't Tell
Aunt Helen Barnett
Raleigh, NC
Steven Thatcher's Aunt; live in housekeeper; cares for his children; perpetual matchmaking01. Don't Tell
02. Have You Seen Her?
Eli Bradford
Chicago, IL
Caroline's teacher, boss, friend, mentor; closest thing to father she'd ever had; died two months ago (14) uncanny gift of creating a three-dimensional picture of history; Caroline's best teacher (27) // Carrington College History Department Chair01. Don't Tell
Sue Ann Broughton
Asheville, NC
Rob Winters' live in girlfriend; he refuses to marry the bimbo01. Don't Tell
Claire Gaffney Burns
Asheville, NC
Asheville General Hospital orthopedic ward nurse; questioned by Rob Winters and Steven Thatcher01. Don't Tell
Susan Crenshaw
Asheville, NC
Asheville General Hospital; cared for Mary Grace; aid to Nancy Desmond01. Don't Tell
Jim Crowley
Asheville, NC
Detective APD; minor involvement in investigation01. Don't Tell
Nancy Desmond
Asheville, NC
Head Nurse Asheville General Hospital; cared for Mary Grace nine years ago01. Don't Tell
Lieutenant Dixon
Asheville, NC
retired Lieutenant APD; Toni's predecessor; closed Winters case01. Don't Tell
Dana Dupinsky
Chicago, IL
auburn hair (14) unique combination of laughter and sobriety; Caroline's best friend; smart; loyal (15) managed Hanover House (21) brown eyes (21) short hair (56) leggy; russet eyebrows (122) // Evie Wilson's Semi-Guardian and Friend01. Don't Tell
04. Nothing To Fear
07. Count To Ten
Gabe Farrell
Asheville, NC
retired detective APD; Lennie Farrell's father; investigated Robbie Winters' abduction01. Don't Tell
Lennie Farrell
Raleigh, NC
Special Agent in charge NC SBI; Steven's boss; annoying stickler for details; good man; good leader (59)01. Don't Tell
Sharlene Farrell
Boone, NC
Housewife; Gabe's wife; Lennie's mother 01. Don't Tell
George Foster
Chicago, IL
Carrington College History Professor; attended meeting with Max Hunter01. Don't Tell
Barry Grant
Chicago, IL
Teen; Tom Stewart's Best Friend01. Don't Tell
Wade Grayson
Chicago, IL
Carrington College History Professor; Caroline Stewart's friend01. Don't Tell
Hanover House
Chicago, IL
shelter for abused women and children; place where Caroline and Tom started their new life01. Don't Tell
04. Nothing To Fear
David Hunter
Chicago, IL
Max's brother; similar in size, weight; two years younger; formidable pair (63) could always make Max laugh (69) // owned auto repair shop; Max's best friend01. Don't Tell
04. Nothing To Fear
07. Count To Ten
11. I Can See You
12. Silent Scream
Dr. Maximillian "Max" Hunter
Chicago, IL
Hero: Carrington College History Professor and Chair of Department (16) smooth wide hand with long fingers clutching cane; trim waist; broad chest; taller than Tom; dark; not menacing; strong, square jaw; dark brows; thick black hair, trimmed close to his nape; boyish look from lock of hair that fell over his forehead; tailored suit; broad shoulders; strong neck muscles; smoky gray eyes; serious mouth; sex appeal (29) not spontaneous; thinks too much (69) woodsy scent (73) loved a challenge (82) 6'6" (199) // Brother to: David Hunter; Son to: Phoebe Hunter 01. Don't Tell
11. I Can See You
Phoebe Hunter
Chicago, IL
Mother to: Max and David, Peter, Elizabeth, Catherine01. Don't Tell
04. Nothing To Fear
12. Silent Scream
Peter, Elizabeth, and Cathy Hunter
Chicago, IL
Siblings to Max and David Hunter01. Don't Tell
Sonya Hunter
Chicago, IL
Peter Hunter's wife01. Don't Tell
Sheriff Hutchins
Sevier County, TN
Sheriff; notified Asheville PD that found Rob Winters' submerged car in Douglass Lake01. Don't Tell
Gary Jacobs
Raleigh, NC
Officer; Steven asked him to watch over Nicky01. Don't Tell
Liz Johnson
Raleigh, NC
State ADA; long-time colleague to Steven Thatcher01. Don't Tell
Ben Jolley
Asheville, NC
Detective APD; Rob Winters's friend01. Don't Tell
Jonathan Lambert
Asheville, NC
perfectly combed golden hair; wide blue eyes; linebacker brawn in shoulders removed boyish effeminate appearance; worry-worn lines crinkling corners of eyes (78) a golden Robert Redford (in his salad days); community theater (235) sharp; indefatigable {268) // Detective APD; investigating Winters case with Steven Thatcher01. Don't Tell
Dr. George Lee
Chicago, IL
Medical Doctor; volunteered at Hanover House01. Don't Tell
04. Nothing To Fear
Randall "Randy" Livermore
Charlotte, NC
computer specialist; freshman UNC-Charlotte; sociopath; Rob Winters paid him to hack government databases for information01. Don't Tell
Tyler McCoy
Sevier County, TN
Deputy; newest recruit; pulled up submerged car01. Don't Tell
Mia Mitchell
Chicago, IL
Detective CPD; Caroline Stewart and Dana Dupinsky's friend; Partner to Abe Reagan; Kelsey Mitchell's sister; Olivia Sutherland's half sister01. Don't Tell
03. I'm Watching You
04. Nothing To Fear
06. You Can't Hide
07. Count To Ten
Todd Murphy
Chicago, IL
Detective CPD; mentioned in Don't Tell; works with Abe Reagan and Mia Mitchell; Aidan Reagan's Partner01. Don't Tell
03. I'm Watching You
06. You Can't Hide
07. Count To Ten
Mrs. Polasky
Chicago, IL
across-the-hall neighbor to Caroline Stewart01. Don't Tell
Marc Rodriguez
Charlotte, NC
Charlotte-Mecklenburg PD; arrested Randy Livermore for hacking01. Don't Tell
Antoinette "Toni" Ross
Asheville, NC
good cop; principled; tough; lean body of runner (78) black (80) brown eyes (80) // Lieutenant APD; Winters' boss; called in SBI to investigate Winters case; worked with Steven Thatcher01. Don't Tell
Holly Rupert
Asheville, NC
Winters' neighbor; sleeping with Rob01. Don't Tell
Monika Shaw
Chicago, IL
Carrington College History Professor; Caroline Stewart's nemesis; Tom called "Shaw-claw"01. Don't Tell
John Smith
Asheville, NC
attorney; Mary Grace went to for him restraining order01. Don't Tell
Mark Spinnelli
Chicago, IL
Chicago PD (254) burly man; salt and pepper mustache (399) // Lieutenant CPD; Boss to Chicago PD detectives01. Don't Tell
03. I'm Watching You
04. Nothing To Fear
06. You Can't Hide
07. Count To Ten
Caroline Stewart
aka: Mary Grace Putnam Winters
Chicago, IL
Heroine: golden hair, dyed coffee brown (14) blue eyes (15) secretary; Carrington College student (16) dark brown hair in braid to middle of her back; nice face; nice medium nose; full lips; dainty brows (29) Caribbean sea blue eyes; nice, neat, unpolished nails; light makeup; strong, deep, sexy drawl; short (30) pretty; charming (31) uncontrived feminity; perfect breasts and rounded figure; slim hips (35) flash of temper (38) 30-y-o (73) stubborn; determined (137) 5'4" (199) indomitable will; sense of humor of a troop of vaudeville comics; more courage than a platoon of soldiers (336) // Tom's mother; Dana Dupinsky's Best Friend; Evie Wilson's Friend and Mentor 01. Don't Tell
04. Nothing To Fear
Tom Stewart [Hunter]
aka: Robbie Winters
Chicago, IL
Caroline's fourteen year old son; wiry blond hair; crew cut; 6'1"; blue eyes (17) // fathered by Rob Winters; Max Hunter adopted01. Don't Tell
04. Nothing To Fear
11. I Can See You
12. Silent Scream
Brad Thatcher
Raleigh, NC
Steven Thatcher's fifteen year old son01. Don't Tell
02. Have You Seen Her?
Matt Thatcher
Raleigh, NC
Steven Thatcher's thirteen year old son01. Don't Tell
02. Have You Seen Her?
Melissa Peterson Thatcher
Raleigh, NC
deceased; housewife; Steven Thatcher's wife; Brad, Matt, Nicky Thatcher's mother01. Don't Tell
02. Have You Seen Her?
Nicky Thatcher
Raleigh, NC
Steven Thatcher's seven year old son; Abducted01. Don't Tell
02. Have You Seen Her?
Steven Thatcher
Raleigh, NC
Special Agent North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation; 36-y-o (57) red hair turned strawberry blond; freckles faded (58) red hair; tall; broad shoulders (407) // lead investigator on Winters case; Brad, Matt, Nicky's father01. Don't Tell
02. Have You Seen Her?
Russell "Russ" Vandalia
Asheville, NC
Head Mechanic, Asheville PD; interaction with Rob Winters and Steven Thatcher regarding submerged car01. Don't Tell
Evie Wilson
Chicago, IL
teen runaway; now legal age; worked at Hanover House; classes at Carrington College; assisted Caroline in history department office (23) tall; young; too-short cap of dark hair; skittish; moved like a colt, long-legged with bursts of uncertainty; crush on Max (101) rangy; coltish (293) // Friend to Caroline and Tom Stewart and Dana Dupinsky01. Don't Tell
04. Nothing To Fear
11. I Can See You
Rob Winters
Asheville, NC
intense aftershave; cowboy boots; large body (2) mustache (3) Detective APD (10) "evil sonofabitch that got kicks from terrorizing those weaker than himself" (86) // villain; Mary Grace's husband; Robbie's father01. Don't Tell

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Karen Rose

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Don't Tell Reviews:
RatedPostedSiteNotes, Comments, Etc.
5.007-....-2003A Romance Review 
B- / warm01-13-2008All About Romance 
----All Readers . comjust data; neither positive, nor negative / not rated
4.38 average{69 reviews}Amazonas of: October 2, 2011
A+09-04-2007Aneca's Worldalso on Good Reads
4.30 average{13 reviews}Barnes & Nobleas of: October 4, 2011
3.0--Book Loons 
4.008-23-2011Book World Travels (Germany)also on Good Reads
B+06-30-2009Books, Books and More Books 
5.0 average{1 review}Borders True Romanceas of: October 1, 2011
4.0 average{2 reviews}Epinions . comas of: October 4, 2011
10 / 7 / 805-18-2003Eye On Romance--Tara Green
9 / 8 / 908-15-2005Eye On Romance--Kristi
4.09 average{129 reviews}Good Readsas of: October 3, 2011
A12-10-2009Leslie's Psyche 
4.67 average{6 reviews}Library Thingas of: October 4, 2011
65--Mrs. Gigglesdislike this overly harsh review
4.010-31-2010Once Good Book Deserves Anotheralso on Amazon
4.5 / hot06-29-2009Pearl's World of Booksalso at: Realms On Our Bookshelves
4.50 average{4 reviews}Play . comUK book seller site
----Publisher's Weeklyfound on B&N site
4.006-30-2009Realms On Our Bookshelvesalso at: Pearl's World of Books
5.006-15-2003Romance Junkiesalso on Amazon, B&N, Good Reads, Library Thing, Shelfari
A / warm06-18-2009Romance Rookiealso on Good Reads, Shelfari
3.96 average{23 reviews}Shelfarias of: October 4, 2011
5.006-10-2010The Allure of Booksalso on Amazon, Good Reads, Library Thing
{not rated} +07-24-2003The Best Reviewsvery positive inflection
A-01-02-2009The Good, The Bad, The Unread 
5.0 // 3.0 --The Hope Chestalso on Good Reads, Library Thing
{not rated} +06-26-2003The Road To Romancepositive inflection
3.008-08-2003The Romance Reader 
5.0 average{3 reviews}Waterstones . comas of: October 4, 2011
5.0010-12-2011Wolf Bear Does Booksshorter post on Amazon, Good Reads, Shelfari

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♥  Disclaimer:   I Purchased This Book
♥  Very Subjective Rating
♥  Willing to share Cheat Sheet
    ♦  in whole or in part
    ♦  WordPerfect or PDF
♣  Will add your Don't Tell review link to table, just ask

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