Sunday, July 28, 2013

Allison Brennan -- The Prey

Allison Brennan -- The Prey

Rated: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ . ♥   {4.95}
Action: ♠♠♠♠.♠ / Emotion: ♣♣♣♣♣ / Romance: ♥♥♥♥♥ / Sensuous: ♦♦♦.♦ / Suspense: ♠♠♠♠♠
Action: 4.5 / Emotion: 5.0 / Romance: 5.0 / Sensuous: 3.5 / Suspense: 5.0  //  Laughter: 1 // Tears: 12 / Teary: 2

  New York Times Bestseller
  Borders Award: 2006 Bestselling Debut Author
  Daphne du Maurier Finalist: 2006 Best Romantic Suspense
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Setting:       Malibu, California
Era:             Present Day [2006]
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This is the second time I've read The Prey, Allison Brennan's first book in The Predator Trilogy.   Having read many of Brennan's books, I knew before picking up this book that I was going to enjoy the read.   But sometimes there are things going on in your life that make a book even more powerful than expected.   Such was the case when I re-read The Prey.

Brennan did such a phenomenal job of creating multi-faceted characters who experienced powerful emotions in spite of the barriers they had erected around their hearts that it was impossible not to become deeply connected to them -- to experience their fear, their compassion, their love and to cry right along with them.   The suspense was just as intense as the emotion and the romance.   Brennan is truly gifted when it comes to steadily building the suspense factor in this book as the plot unfolds.   It was impossible not to experience nail-biting, spine-tingling, pace-the-floor tension by the time the big showdown between the villain and the protagonists took place at the end of the book.

Probably the reason this story demanded my emotional connection to Rowan, even though she was described as a distant, cold heroine (and who could blame her after the childhood she endured), was that Rowan was constantly seeking to understand why.   (An attitude that is easy to identify with because that seems to be my number one question about life's injustices.)   Rowan joined the FBI and took psychology courses in her efforts to seek answers.

I know now after years of psychology and criminology classes that domestic violence isn't love.   But I had to try to find out why my father lost his mind.   How Bobby could be so cruel.   If I knew why, I could be a better agent.   I could better fight for the victims if I understood their attackers.   (Rowan, page 229-230)

"Every criminal I interviewed I asked why.   I never got an answer I understood."   (Rowan, page 230)

Why would Rowan's mother stay with a man who hit her.   And, secondly, why would a mother leave her children in the same house with a bully brother.   And, sadly, Brennan had no answers to the questions -- for either Rowan or the reader.

It was her parents.   What had they been doing living with an abusive son, a young man who tormented them and their other children?   How could they do nothing?   How could her mother sit in the house, let her children witness her abuse, and not get them out of there?   (John, page 246)

The reason this book was so powerfully moving is because a family situation has forced an understanding of exactly how such a thing could happen.   It is easy to suppose that Rowan's mother did nothing because she was powerless -- and scared.   Since the legal system is anything but a just system, that its rules make it impossible for outsiders to aid abused wives and children and the abusers hold all the legal cards, who was Elizabeth "Beth" Regina MacIntosh supposed to go to for help.   Besides, there was that love / hate relationship thing going on between Beth and Robert, Rowan's biological parents.   This story just emphasized the belief that the legal system cannot get involved in toxic family situations until a death has occurred.

Brennan brought her characters to life, particularly that of Michael Flynn.   At first it was easy to assume that he was going to be the hero of the story.   You just couldn't help but love a 'knight in shining armor' type of guy who always jumped into the water with both feet to rescue the damsel in distress.   (Even if Rowan came across as anything but a damsel in distress.)

But when ex-DEA Agent John Flynn entered the picture, at the behest of his sister, Tess, who was worried about Michael's tendency to fall for Ms Wrong (like his two previous girlfriends, Carla and Jessica), the actual hero of the story became abundantly clear.   Brennan did a tremendous job of addressing the issues that surrounded these brothers as it became evident that both John and Michael were attracted to Rowan.   (One has to assume that Rowan's 'I'm unavailable' vibes inspired that interest men always seem to exhibit towards unattainable women.)

When they were in high school, they'd instituted the "First Sight Rule" to avoid fighting over girls.   They were only a year apart and were frequently attracted to the same women.   To keep the peace in the family, they had agreed that whoever saw the girl first had first right of refusal.
Not this time.
John dumped the rule then and there.   By the look on Michael's face, he knew it too.   (John, page 68)

You couldn't help but love Michael's free-spirited, compassionate personality.   Nor could you help but feel sorry for Michael when you realized he was going to lose this woman to his brother.

John always won because he played the game better.   He knew which buttons to push and he pressed them just right to get the reaction he wanted.   (John, page 212)

The way that Brennan resolved the issue between the brothers was the biggest disappointment in the book.   Brennan seemed to try to explain (through Rowan) that her solution was a realistic portrayal of life, but the tears flowed for Michael nonetheless (and, naturally, for Tess and John as well).

"It felt so cathartic to write these books, to always have good triumph over evil when we both know the bad guys often win."   (Rowan, page 208)

It was easy to accept John Flynn as the hero of the book, in spite of taking away that position from Michael.   John is a typical alpha hero that can easily win the hearts of readers who like their macho heros to work in the law enforcement field, having previously served in special ops or worked undercover.   John may have had that sexy, hunky, tough guy thing going on, but he also possessed qualities that made him truly heroic material.   Even though he planned to take Rowan away from his brother, he was definitely a man who cared about his family.   Then once he and Rowan became romantically involved, it was obvious he understood her and went out of his way to meet her emotional needs.   The most obvious example being the time John arranged for Peter to join him and Rowan for dinner when they went to Boston.

Father Peter O'Brien, Rowan's brother, was one of the secondary characters that Brennan underdeveloped.   As the story unfolded it was more than apparent that there was a special bond between Rowan and Peter.   However, even when Peter appeared on the pages of the book and gave Rowan his words of wisdom, he still felt vague and incomplete.   It's too bad that Peter wasn't a more fully developed character because he did inspire great interest.

Another secondary character that leapt off the pages with realism and interest was Teresa "Tess" Flynn.   Tess showed up occasionally on the pages of the book, displaying her youthful desire to be a field operative in the Flynn family security business in spite of John and Michael's efforts to discourage her.   Brennan painted a picture of closeness between these three siblings by using Tess to call John when she thought Michael, who wore his heart on his sleeve, was going to make another mistake -- falling for Rowan like he fell for another client who lied to him, Jessica Weston.

Again, Brennan failed to fully develop the personality of Tess as the story progressed, even though she utilized Tess's very real and understandable anger at Rowan for her role in Michael's confrontation with the Copycat Killer.   When she was offered the opportunity to do so, Tess found that being a computer specialist for the FBI fit her skill set much better than protecting clients.   One can only hope that this spunky girl shows up in future books.

Another secondary character that played an important role all the way through this book was Rowan's surrogate father, ex-boss, and the assistant director of the FBI, Roger Collins.   Brennan went to great lengths to explain why Roger kept his secrets when the Copycat Killer began to present Rowan with murders that were replicas of those that she fictionalized in her books, but it was impossible not to want to hit Roger over the head and say, if you can't tell Rowan what you've done, at least tell John or Quinn.   (Because it was blatantly obvious to most readers what secret John was keeping.)

Another thing that Brennan explained was why there was a weak father-daughter kind of closeness between Roger and Rowan.   Since this is Brennan's debut novel, it was easy to make allowances for her regarding this relationship, but the storyline could have been so much more powerful (and Rowan would have seemed a bit warmer) if Brennan had somehow contrived to display such a relationship between Roger and Rowan (and Roger's wife, Gracie).   It is difficult to imagine a ten year old girl (even one as wounded as Rowan) totally shutting herself away from the people who took her into their home and raised her.

Brennan briefly introduced the hero of the second book of this trilogy (The Hunt), FBI Special Agent Quincy "Quinn" Peterson.   Rowan was not happy that Roger assigned Quinn to work the case with her, John, Michael, and Tess as they struggled to identify the Copycat Killer and stop his spree of terror by going over the cases Rowan had worked when she was an FBI Agent.   Brennan began to prompt an interest in the story behind Quinn and Miranda Moore's relationship while Miranda went through the FBI Training Academy along with Rowan (and their roommate, Olivia).   That interest increased at the end of this book when Quinn came to John and Rowan to tell them he had to go to Bozeman, Montana because a serial killer named The Butcher had struck again.

Another secondary character was included in the story to increase the level of suspense and make readers wonder what role he would play in the identification of the Copycat Killer.   Adam Williams was introduced as Rowan's number one fan and that Rowan had gotten this somewhat simple-minded youth a job working in the prop department with the studio that was filming Crime of Clarity, one of Rowan's novels.   Brennan used Adam to showcase aspects of Rowan's personality that were easy to overlook.   Rowan went out of her way to show kindnesses and to build up Adam's self-image, even when he made mistakes.   (That is, until Rowan's erratic behavior turned Adam fearful of her.)

As the tension in the story escalated and Brennan kept interjecting Adam into the story, giving him a point of view voice, it was evident that Adam was going to play a key role in the finale with the Copycat Killer.   Brennan did a great job of developing this unique character and used his presence to highlight personality differences in John, Michael and Rowan as they interacted with Adam.

Even though she was minimally featured in the story, Brennan really brought to life Suzannah "Sadie" Darlene Pierce, a high-class call girl in Dallas.   The way Brennan so succinctly and beautifully wrote Sadie's history was proof of her skill at her chosen craft.   Brennan entertained readers with an intense, exciting, taut scene as Sadie won the day when she encountered her new client, businessman Rex Barker.

Brennan ended the book with a very exciting, suspenseful finale as the Copycat Killer went after Rowan.   As expected, the book ended with the good guys winning the day and John and Rowan facing a happily-ever-after.

Since the Romantic Suspense genre is a favorite, it was a joy to find another author who not only keeps the story filled with edge-of-your-seat suspense, but also includes the romance and sensuality that really enhances the story.   Loved the fact Brennan included several love scenes in this book and added spice, sizzle and zing to them.   However, after seeing the bad ratings given by too many non-romance reviewers who complained about the inclusion of romance and sexuality, it's obvious that Brennan may have to cater to these people to continue to sell her books.   (I wish non-romance readers (like Mystery and Thriller readers) would quit crossing the genre lines and then complain because the Romantic Suspense book held true to it's name and included romance.)

In conclusion, Allison Brennan's debut novel, The Prey, the first book in The Predator Trilogy is an impossible to put down, must-read for any Romantic Suspense fan.   It contains all the facets of a well-written, well-told story.   {1} John Flynn, an ex-DEA Agent, who is hunky, sexy and alpha enough not to be overwhelmed by {2} Rowan Smith, a strong-willed, beautiful, tough, driven, ex-FBI Agent, who now writes criminal fiction.   {3} The Copycat Killer, a villain who was so well-developed that you could not help but hold your breath in anticipation and dread of his next move.   {4} The inclusion of several memorable secondary characters that added great interest to the story: {a} Michael Flynn, {b} Teresa "Tess" Flynn, {c} Quincy "Quinn" Peterson, {d} Roger Collins, {e} Father Peter O'Brien, {f} Adam Williams, and {g} Suzannah "Sadie" Darlene Pierce.   {5} Plenty of action kept the story moving at a strong, steady pace.   {6} An empathetic, deep emotional connection to John and Rowan that moved one to tears.   {7} A suspense so spine-tingling and intense that it was difficult to sit still.   {8} A quickly-built romance between John and Rowan that could not be suppressed.   {9} Sizzling, hot love scenes that featured an emotional connection as well.   And, finally, {10} an exciting finale where good triumphs over evil and John and Rowan face their happily-ever-after.
--Vonda M. Reid (Sunday, July 28, 2013 : 2:13 a.m.)     [321]

Chapter-By-Chapter Synopsis: Allison Brennan -- The Prey

Since this blog is more about providing a written record of the books I've read (so that I can come back and "remember" what the book was about) than building a massive following and trying to make a cent or two, I'm trying something new.   Rather than read the book and try to write a detailed, comprehensive review that will recall to mind the events that occurred in the story (without including too many spoilers), I decided to try to write a synopsis after reading each chapter.   So here is a Chapter-by-Chapter Synopsis of The Prey.   Even though an effort was made to keep the spoilers to a minimum, this process will, by its very nature, be very revealing.

Brennan did a phenomenal job of setting the mood for a very suspenseful, exciting read in the Prologue as she began painting a picture of the mindset of the villain as he watched the heroine through binoculars and planned to make her suffer before killing her.   Apparently something happened in the past between the heroine and the villain that played a key role in his fascination with her.   Brennan has the reader already anxious to not only find out what is going to happen next, but also instilled a desire to know what happened in the past.

Chapter One
Brennan really drew readers into the story and began fleshing out the character of Rowan Smith, former FBI Agent and now author of five books and three films.   It is obvious that Rowan is a private, yet compassionate woman, who struggled to leave a life of murder and violence behind (except for the fact that she fictionalized violence for her books).
It had started when she was ten, and it seemed it would never end.   (Rowan, page 16)
Brennan displays very impressive skills when it come to describing her characters.   You can just picture {1} the sharp dressing, Denver detective, Ben Jackson, and {2} the stereo-typical slightly overweight L.A.P.D. detective that came to the beachfront home Rowan was renting while in Los Angeles to question her about the murder of Doreen Rodriguez.   The killer had found a woman with the same name and vocation as a character in Rowan's book, Crime of Opportunity, and murdered Doreen in the same manner described in the book.

Chapter Two
Brennan displays an impressive ability as she describes the landscape and beach house where Rowan is residing -- all sterile white glass.   Brennan is very skilled at drawing a vivid picture of her characters as well -- proof being in the way she begins developing the personalities of Michael Flynn and his vivacious sister, Tess, as they arrive at the Malibu home.   And with just the flip of her hair and the cadence of her speech, readers begin to get a picture of Annette O'Dell, the producer of the film, Crime of Passion -- another of Rowan's books coming to life.

Brennan is no slouch either when it comes to entertaining readers with unique introductions and giving one just a tinge of romance.   Michael is ready to walk out of the house at Rowan's grandstanding display, but he can see the fear in her eyes and gives her a chance to explain.

A bit more of Rowan's dark past is presented.   What kind of childhood did Rowan have with an insane father, now housed in Bellevue.   Rowan got a call from Roger, her ex-boss and father-figure, who demanded that she accept the studio's security detail and displayed Brennan's sense of humor.
"They'd better be good, Ro, not some nose-picking grocery guards."   (Roger, page 22)
The fear in Rowan's eyes is warranted, because the killer is in Los Angeles, book in hand, setting up another set of events to rock Rowan's world off it's axis.   Brennan has just made it impossible to put this book down.

Chapter Three
Brennan spent of lot of time building interest in the unknown background of each of the protagonists.   Tess could tell Michael was attracted to Rowan and was worried about his 'knight in shining armor' complex that got him in trouble with his two previous girlfriends, Carla and Jessica.   Tess called her brother, John, to tell him about Michael's attraction to a woman that she could find minimal information about -- a woman who seemed to suddenly appear at eighteen years of age and lived with the assistant director of the FBI and his wife, Roger and Gracie Collins.

The background of John Flynn, Michael and Tess's eldest brother, was just as hazy as Brennan began fleshing out his personality.   John used to be a government agent, quit for some unknown but apparently soul-shattering reason, yet continued to use his specialized skills to help the DEA track down drug lords, one in particular, Reginald Pomera.

A hazy romantic aspect of the story is insinuated as Michael and Rowan find themselves comfortable with one another as they take a morning run before heading out to the studio filming Crime of Passion.   Tess takes over the security detail so Michael can go to the police department (where he used to be employed) to find out information about the funeral wreath delivered to Rowan at the beach house she was renting while in Los Angeles.

Chapter Four
This was a chapter for introducing a couple of new secondary characters and creating curiosity -- why are these people important to the telling of this story.   First, Michael had to rush to the studio when Tess called because Adam Williams, a young man Rowan arranged to be hired in the prop department, played a gruesome prank on the actress, Marcy Blair.   Because of her history with Adam (as her number one fan) and because he was a bit mentally challenged, Rowan asked Michael to let her deal with Adam regarding his pranks.

Second, Rowan was not happy that her case files were turned over to Special Agent Quincy "Quinn" Peterson, an agent with whom she had a complicated friendship.   Now she would be forced to work with him.   The romance aspect is continuing to bloom as Rowan allowed Michael to hold her hand in commiseration as he was driving her home from the studio as he explained about the murder of the florist, Christine Jamison, being enacted exactly like that of the florist in her book, Crime of Passion.

The suspense quotient increases as the killer watches Rowan from afar (and has apparently been doing so for years).   The killer, who believes himself god-like, dismisses Rowan's bodyguard as an inconsequential impediment to his final goal.
Rowan needed to be broken.   He wanted her to melt, to burn. . . .   Mostly, he wanted her fear.   Then -- only then -- would he confront her.   (killer, page 54)
Chapter Five
Wow!   What clever writing.   Brennan had just left readers in the mind of the killer and then had us jumping to the conclusion that Tess was his next victim when John attacked Tess (in training) when she entered her apartment.   As Tess and John talk about their brother and the case, Michael is calling in favors from friends to get information on Rowan.

Brennan introduces Rowan's brother, Father Peter O'Brien, of Saint John's in Boston as Rowan and Peter discuss the murders and both worry about the safety of the other.   More threads are introduced into the story and the suspense gets even more intense as Rowan reveals that she is afraid to befriend anyone because doing so could put them in jeopardy.   Rowan has even kept her distance from her Quantico roommates (her only friends), Miranda Moore (former lover of Quinn Peterson) and Olivia.

And then Brennan really throws a wrench in the works.   All this time it was easy to assume that Michael was going to be Rowan's hero, but when Tess and John show up at the cold, sterile beach house where Rowan is residing and John gets his first look at Rowan, the hero changes just that quickly from Michael to John.
When they were in high school, they'd instituted the "First Sight Rule" to avoid fighting over girls.   They were only a year apart and were frequently attracted to the same women.   To keep the peace in the family, they had agreed that whoever saw the girl first had first right of refusal.
Not this time.
John dumped the rule then and there.   By the look on Michael's face, he knew it too.   (John, page 68)
Chapter Six
Brennan is increasing the suspense and the emotional impact of the story.   Rowan dreamed about a crime scene she worked in Nashville, Tennessee with Tom Krause that reminded her of Dani.   That scene included little Rebecca Sue Franklin, the three year old daughter of Karl and Marlena Franklin.   Michael holds and comforts Rowan when she awakes screaming and then John argues with Michael about not being tough with Rowan.   It was obvious to John that {1} knowing about the dream was important to solving this case and {2} Rowan was lying to them about the dream.

Brennan did a great job of drawing sympathetic emotions from the reader for both brothers as they argue.   You can't help but feel sorry for Michael because he is smitten with Rowan while at the same time, feeling John's caring for his brother and sister as he tries to do his job in a manner that does not allow his family to end up slain.

Brennan continues to paint a picture of the sickness inside the head of the killer as she paints a picture of him as an eight-year-old boy.   The killer is already fascinated with murder and has a skewed view of his mother who whines and cries as his father slaps her around.

Chapter Seven
The level suspense has been steadily climbing with each page that turns.   Five things happen to inspire a need to keep reading to find out what is going to happen next.   First, Michael falls even harder for Rowan as he holds her when she falls apart after a package of dark pigtails tied with ribbons is left at the beach house.   Rowan, who is not willing to lead Michael on, eventually distances herself.   Second, Quinn and his partner, Colleen Thorne, arrive to confirm that more murders have occurred, in a manner similar to Rowan's Crime of Clarity novel.   Michael is steadfast in his defense of Rowan when she storms off when Quinn opens his mouth and inserts his foot regarding the publicity the murders have wrought.   Third, these murders reveal that the killer knows about Dani, Rowan's sister, and that he's coming for her.

Fourth, Brennan introduces Roger, who is so worried about Rowan that he flies around the states to make sure that the efforts he made years ago to protect Rowan are still in place.   Roger also went to Portland to view the crime scene of the Harper family, the divorced mother, Gina, and her daughters, Natalie and Kimberly.   Afterwards Roger went to the Bellevue Hospital for The Criminally Insane in Boston to check on the status of Rowan's biological father, Robert MacIntosh, who snapped twenty-three years ago after brutally killing his wife, Elizabeth.   At Bellevue Roger learned from Dr. Milton "Milt" Christopher that a stranger named Bob Smith had twice been to visit this insane man who had not spoken a word in 23 years.

Fifth, apparently there was some prisoner in the Shreveport Penitentiary that Roger labeled "the spawn of Satan" that had been transferred to the high-security Federal prison in Beaumont without his knowledge.   Roger is keeping secrets from Rowan and you cannot help but wonder how all these pieces fit together.

Chapter Eight
Brennan has done a wonderful job of bringing to light all the emotions that are jumping around in this trinity.   First, there is Rowan's lustful awareness of John.   Rowan is upset because while she can lead Michael around by the noise using his attraction against him, she can see that John is not a man to be led and that he seems to be able to see the real her -- and will make her spill her secrets.

Then there is that tension between John and Michael that has to be addressed because both of the brothers are attracted to Rowan and they are both alpha enough to want to win.   Brennan has done an excellent job of eliciting sympathy for poor Michael because it is obvious that John is going to win this battle -- simply because Rowan is attracted to John as a man and thinks of Michael as a brother.

Chapter Nine
The story continues with routine details.   Rowan exchanges angry words with Quinn when Michael escorts her to the FBI's office so she can review the Franklin files.   Four years ago Rowan quit the FBI when she walked into the house of Karl and Marlena Franklin to investigate the deaths of this slain family.   The crime scene resurrected too many memories for Rowan and now Rowan believes the Franklin files will tell her who the killer is.

Excellent description of Adam's simplistic thinking as he stops to buy flowers for Rowan when decides to drive to her house to see if she was mad at him.   Surely the stranger at the flower stand who suggested calla lilies rather than roses for a friend was the killer -- with a specific agenda.

Chapter Ten
As John is searching Rowan's bedroom and study looking for details about her secrets, he realizes he has a connection with her, that he understands her.   John calls his friend, Andy, to delve into the FBI's files to get him information about Rowan.   When Adam arrives with flowers in hand, John must call Michael and Rowan.   It is obvious that John is a better judge of character than Michael and handles Adam in the same respectful and careful manner as Rowan.

More suspense is added to the story when Rowan's memory jumps back to when she was a child with her mother and was loving on her new baby sister, Danielle.   And then the happy home life disappears by the appearance of Bobby, who pushed little Peter down the stairs.   Who is Bobby?

Chapter Eleven
The tension escalates as Rowan reacts to the lilies.   John tries to defuse the situation as Rowan runs away and leaves Adam cowering in fear.   Rowan calls Roger to let him know that the killer knows her true identity.   Roger pulls Rowan's file from his safe to study it to find out what loose end he'd failed to tie up all those years ago.

Meanwhile John takes Adam back to the flower stand to try and get a description of the killer from the proprietor.   It's obvious that Brennan is leading the readers to an exciting conclusion and that Adam will probably play a role in the solution since he knows there was something familiar about the stranger that was terrorizing Rowan.

The killer appears again.   He has chosen his next victim to mirror details of Rowan's next book and while he is waiting for Melissa Jane Acker to alight from her commute on the D.C. to Virginia Metro, he wonders if Rowan will remember him when he comes for her.

Chapter Twelve
On pins and needles.   Rowan has dressed up for the premier of her movie, Crime of Passion.   When she walks into the foyer to join Quinn, Michael and John, she is drawn to John.
Everything she learned about John intrigued her.   She wanted to know more.   (Rowan, page 152)
John is just as attracted to Rowan but he is concerned about her lies of omission.   And then there is the subtle awareness between the brothers that both want the same woman as Quinn tells Rowan about the death of Melissa Jane Acker, the next victim taken from the pages of her book.   As Quinn and Rowan discuss steps the FBI is taking to find the killer, John takes a call from Andy and learns quite a few details about Rowan's childhood.   He must get Rowan to tell him all her secrets tonight.

Chapter Thirteen
Cannot help but feel sympathy for Michael as he goes to a bar to drink off his anger because John convinced Quinn that he needed a night off.   It was a relief to finally read about what happened between Michael and Jessica and why John and Tess were so worried about him.   It was also comforting that Michael was willing to admit that he must make peace with John -- that he could see there was something between John and Rowan.

A spine-tingling kind of fear sets in when the killer sits on the barstool next to Michael's and buys him a drink.   And then Brennan jerks the reader in an entirely different direction by revealing the confrontation that was happening between John and Rowan back at the beach house.   As Rowan repeated the horror that she had to face when she was ten, it was easy to understand why she was running from her past.   But there was also that ah-ha moment when the reader easily put two and two together to come up with four.   It was obvious what truth Roger had been keeping from Rowan in his efforts to give her a feeling of security.

As expected, John and Rowan make love.   Finally after having read so many novels lately that failed to include sizzle and heat in the lovemaking scenes, Brennan wrote a love scene filled with a deep emotional connection between John and Rowan as well as mixing in some passion, spice and zing.

After entertaining readers with the emotional high of reading the love scene between John and Rowan, Brennan then sends readers spiraling into tears when the killer shots Michael after he stumbles home from the bar.

Chapter Fourteen
Brennan wrote a very sensual and moving lovemaking scene between John and Rowan after their morning run.   Afterwards, Brennan finally revealed who Denny Schwartz was as John told Rowan about his idyllic childhood.   Denny was John's best friend and had ended up selling drugs for Pomera, the man John had been pursuing for years.

Brennan did a phenomenal job of writing realistically moving scenes that had the tears flowing when Quinn arrived at the beach house to tell John and Rowan about Michael's death at the hands of the Copycat Killer.   There were many tearful moments as several emotional issues were being addressed.   First, was the guilt that both John and Rowan experienced because each felt responsible for sending Michael to his death.   Second, now Michael's death stood between the loving relationship that had just started to develop between John and Rowan.   Third, Tess's reaction to Michael's death was powerfully moving.

Fourth, John and Rowan were even more determined to bring the villain to justice (which did not necessarily mean apprehension), each calling Roger and wanting full disclosure.   It was so easy to wonder why Brennan was allowing Roger to continue to hide his big secret from John and Rowan when it was so critical to the case that they know everything so they can stop this relentless killer.

When Brennan closed the chapter with another visit to the mind of the killer, the nail-biting suspense had increased exponentially along with the emotional devastation.   Because Brennan has successfully created a strong emotional connection between the characters and reader, it is impossible to put this book down to find out how John and Rowan are going to win this battle.   Having reached an assumption as to who this killer is, it is easy to agree with Rowan about the reason she left the FBI to write crime novels.
"It felt so cathartic to write these books, to always have good triumph over evil when we both know the bad guys often win."   (Rowan, page 208)
Chapter Sixteen
Brennan continues to draw tears as she describes John and Rowan's anguish as they deal with her nightmare.   John quits suppressing his feelings when he sees Rowan struggle with her emotions.   He does not know if she is strong enough to get though this and tells her she is not alone.

In the FBI conference room, Rowan sits before the MacIntosh file with Quinn's support and Tess's quiet condemnation.   Brennan did a great job of weaving threads of emotion, determination, and understanding through these scenes as Rowan deals with Adam's avoidance of her and the final revelation that Bobby, her eldest brother, was alive.   Rowan called Roger to vent her fury and demanded that she be allowed to see for herself that Bobby was still behind bars.

Chapter Seventeen
For deep personal reasons, this chapter was particularly moving.   Quinn, John and Rowan took the first flight to Texas.   On the plane, John listened as Rowan told him the details of her childhood in a home with an abusive father and an evil brother.   While John was correct that no child should have to endure such an environment, Brennan painted such a realistic picture of the troubled family that it was easy to understand how there was no escape.

And even though it is was so easy to judge Roger for keeping Bobby's existence a secret, Brennan did an admirable job of explaining why he did so.   He was trying to protect Rowan, a little girl he loved like a daughter.   And parents do not always make the right decisions.   However, you still have to wonder why he didn't at least tell Quinn or John when the killing spree started.   Because, sure enough the man behind bars was not Bobby MacIntosh.
his [Roger] betrayal would stay with her until the day she died.   She didn't know if she would ever be able to forgive him.   (Rowan, page 251)
Chapter Eighteen
Really liked the creative way Brennan managed to spring Bobby from prison during his transfer from Louisiana to Beaumont with the aid of an easily manipulated thief who liked the easy life of three squares on the government.   And while she was weaving this fascinating tale that Lloyd, the imposter, told to Rowan during her interview, Brennan was also addressing the emotional issues Rowan was facing.   First, Rowan had to deal with the betrayal of a man she loved like a father.   Second, she found security in John's presence and realized that their connection was still in tact (even after the blow of losing Michael).

Now that Brennan confirmed that the killer was Bobby, she began to reveal more details about his psyche as he went into a Dallas bookstore to get a copy of Crime of Jeopardy.   The only aspect of Bobby's character that didn't ring true was that he was haunted by the faces of his family.   Brennan has painted a picture of a killer who shows no remorse and actually enjoys the act.   It makes no sense that Bobby would be haunted by the faces of those he has killed.   Bobby's personality lends itself to the idea that he would take great glee in remembering his kills.

Chapter Nineteen
Brennan is very impressive the way she keeps the romance and emotional aspects of the characters always running parallel with the action and suspense fueling the need to keep reading this engrossing story.   As John, Rowan and Roger travel to the Bellevue Hospital for The Criminally Insane so Rowan can talk to her father to try and learn what Bobby said to him, John and Rowan are very aware of each other and are coming to accept that their feelings run deep.

Dr. Christopher insisted on accompanying Rowan and John when she went to talk to her father.   What a surprise when Robert MacIntosh spoke to his daughter, believing her to be Beth, his wife.   The information Robert relayed to Rowan didn't help their investigation.   But here is the rub, if Dr. Christopher had to accompany John and Rowan and heard everything they said, why didn't Rowan just turn to Dr. Christopher and ask him what Bob Smith said to her father when he visited those two times?

What a sensitive man John proved himself to be.   While in Boston, he arranged for Peter to join him and Rowan for dinner at the hotel -- knowing how much Rowan loved her brother.   Later in their room, when Rowan realized how deeply she cared about John, she went to him and made love with him because it could be the last time they were together.   Their lovemaking was filled with emotion and passion rather than with sizzling sensuality.

Chapter Twenty
Really like Brennan's writing style as she succinctly told the details of how Suzannah "Sadie" Darlene Pierce, Bobby's next victim, a high-class call girl got involved in the business.   Brennan has the adrenaline pumping as Sadie joins Bobby in his room and finds herself in a fight for her life.   Sadie lived, but Bobby escaped.   Enjoyed this very well-written scene.

Chapter Twenty-One
Brennan is doing a phenomenal job of increasing the tension and keeping the reader's undivided interest.   While we cannot wait to see how she will orchestrate the showdown between John, Rowan and Bobby, she continues to deepen the emotional connection between John and Rowan.   John and Rowan both realize that they are willing to forego their personal vendetta against Bobby if it will keep the other safe -- thus, John and Rowan go to a safe house located in Cambria.   Also, Rowan begins a personal healing process.   Rather than continue to write fictional crime, she decides it is time to take her power back and write true crime -- the first being that of the MacIntosh family.

Chapter Twenty-Two
Brennan does a great job of revealing that John and Rowan are in love and how each of them are trying to deal with this scary new emotion.   She even includes a sizzling, intense, very emotional love scene that really adds to the enjoyment of this romantic novel.

Brennan never lets the suspenseful nature of the story diminish either.   She reveals Bobby in all his livid anger, holed up in a hotel in Arizona, ready to drive to Los Angeles to kill his sister.

Chapter Twenty-Three
It's almost time for the big finale, the big showdown, as Brennan increases the tension and suspense to nail-biting levels.   Bobby could see that the FBI planted a decoy, so he kidnaps Tess to draw his sister from hiding.

Chapter Twenty-Four
Constant tension.   John is not willing to let Rowan exchange herself for Tess.   Roger sent Reggie Jackman to guard Rowan, while John left to join the team setting trap for Bobby.   On an emotional level, Roger was berating himself for the mistakes he'd made with Rowan and the people that had died as he tried to set up the sting operation.

[Chapters Twenty-Five through Twenty-Nine]
The big finale involving the FBI, Roger, John, Rowan and Tess.   Naturally, this was very fast-paced and intense.   A fitting end to a well-told story.   And, as expected, good triumphed over evil.

Books In The Series: "The Predator Trilogy"
# Date Title Hero Heroine
01.01-2006The PreyJohn Flynn: ex-Delta Force, ex-DEA, bodyguard for family security businessRowan Smith: ex-FBI, best-selling crime novelist
02.02-2006The HuntQuincy "Quinn" Peterson: FBI Special AgentMiranda "Randy" Moore: director of Bozeman Sheriff Department's Search and Rescue division
03.03-2006The KillZack Travis: Seattle Homicide DetectiveOlivia "Liv" St. Martin: director of Trace Evidence and Materials Analysis

Characters Found In "The Prey"
Character Description
John Flynn[Hero] Michael's brother; worked together (18) in South America (19) eldest brother; more experience dealing with federal law enforcement agencies; better instincts than Michael; very distrustful; driven; focused (38) no longer a government agent; specialized skill in tracking down drug lords (39) didn't care much for the eating process, except to provide fuel for his body (57) had valuable contacts in Washington (62) straight shooter; Delta commando (75) looked a little like Michael; green eyes darker than Michael's; leaner than Michael; too sexy for his own good, and knew it; an operative; "under the seemingly at ease posture was a man rippling with energy, exuding strength and cocky self-confidence without even trying"; not as muscular as Michael; would still win hands down in a fight; dangerous; ostensibly innocent gaze; solitary dimple when he smiled (97) competitive (98) subtle, well-toned muscles; full, kissable lips; entire face spoke of subtle masculinity; a man comfortable with himself; knew his place in the world; dimple dented otherwise square jaw (101) stealth presence and lithe movements screamed drug enforcement (112) kept emotions close to the vest (121) worked undercover DEA with Pomera's operation (142) doesn't always play by rules; CIA left him in South American jail for 6 months (143) one of the good guys; justice came first (152) 5 years in Delta Force; idyllic childhood; father a cop; mother a stay at home wife (186) enlisted when 18 (187) father's strong sense of justice; mother's compassion for victims (211) almost 40 (282) broad shoulders; jagged scar ran from mid-thigh to his knee (284)
Rowan Smith[Heroine] long blond hair pulled tightly back in a braid; beautiful woman; aristocratic profile; small, sharp point for her nose; regal, angular facial bones; lean, athletic, muscular body; soft blue-gray eyes, the color of the sea (1) black Mercedes coupe (2) Glock; despised reporters; used to be in Bureau (4) quit FBI 4-y-a; ex-smoker (6) wrote violent murder mysteries; 10 years of training (8) with FBI 6 years (10) 7 year with Bureau (13) consummate professional (14) in California 2 months; published 4 books; fifth book to be released in 2 weeks; third film (15) "Ro" (22) lived in Colorado (22) too skinny; well-toned muscles; scared by strong; troubled but defiant (26) expressive blue-gray eyes; blank face; rigid posture (33) exceptionally private woman; smart; competent; intriguing past; quiet; reserved; bottled energy (34) complex (36) graduated from Georgetown 12-y-a; went to FBI Academy from college; markmanship award; changed name as minor 20-y-a (37) Heckler & Koch (9mm semiautomatic) (40) confident; cool (54) long blond hair hung smooth and silky down her back (59) rigid, distant look; elegant; classy; "A blend of the 1930s temptress with the cool estrangement of twenty-first century professional"; a beautiful, remarkably striking woman; intelligent; stormy blue eyes always watching; wary (67) eating had never been important (81) valued her independence (96) kept emotions close to the vest (121) 2 brothers, 3 sisters; "Lily" (134) born: Lily Elizabeth MacIntosh (158) acted cold to cover up her feelings (216) 3 years older than Peter = 33-y-o (281)
. . .. . .
Andy[No Appearance] John's inside FBI contact; asked him to find out details about Rowan (122) would never change; predictable (124)
Melissa Jane Acker[No Appearance] Copycat Killer's victim; commuter from D.C. to Virginia (150) 24-y-o; picked up at Falls Church Station (153)
Rex Barker[Alias] in Dallas: Copycat Killer dressed in the role of Rex Barker, cowboy businessman to kill Sadie as Rowan described in her book (288)
Jim Barlow[One Appearance] interviewed Rowan; detective; L.A.P.D.; older; pale skin; stereo-typical slightly overweight cop in wrinkled slacks and too-tight blazer with worn leather patches on elbows; pale blue eyes seemed to take in everything; ex-smoker (10)
Barry[No Appearance] Adam's co-worker in prop department (48)
Marcy Blair[No Appearance] one of actresses on film; screamed when saw pool of blood (45) mean; doesn't listen to Barry (48)
Francie Blake[One Appearance] FBI Special Agent; decoy for Rowan (348)
Chief Bunker[One Appearance] LAPD chief of detectives; Michael's ex-boss (42)
The Butcher[No Appearance / The Hunt] serial killer in Bozeman, Montana (392) killing for 15 years (393)
Carla[No Appearance] Michael's ex-girlfriend (35)
Missy Sue Carmichael[No Appearance] the senior who took Michael's virginity when he was 15 (59)
Bridget Carter[No Appearance] beautiful; brunette; designer clothes; million dollar house in ritzy part of town; poise of a starlet; explained "Life" to Sadie (290) over 40; training Sadie to take over the business (291)
Dr. Milton "Milt" Christopher[Rare Appearances] deep gravely voice; Roger knew 20 years; worked at Bellevue Hospital for The Criminally Insane (91)
George Claussen[No Appearance] Copycat Killer's mother's former boss (78)
David Cline[No Appearance] director of the film based on Rowan's book, Crime of Clarity (44)
Gracie Collins [No Appearance] Roger's wife (21)
Roger Collins[Major Secondary Character] FBI; Rowan's ex-boss; saved her life (20) like father to Rowan; big, dark, scuffed utilitarian desk; square jaw (21) assistant director of FBI (90) distinguished gray hair; 59-y-o (92) 35 years with FBI (94) Rowan's legal guardian since she was 10-y-o (157) dark graying hair; clear blue eyes; hint of wrinkles edging his mouth and eyes (261)
James Cullen[One Appearance] warden of high-security Federal prison in Beaumont (92) surprisingly small, balding man; walked tall; wore nervous smile (251)
Copycat Killer[Major Secondary Character] villain; average face; wasn't mad; terrifying (2) Rowan's profile: sane; lot of planning and research to get details just right; perfectionist; arrogant; smart; thinks everyone else is stupid; has an agenda (14) named the "Copycat Killer" (90) meticulous planner; murders well executed, well planned, psychologically torturing Rowan (143) served time (150) elusive (196)
Mrs. Crenshaw[No Appearance] when 8-y-o, Copycat Killer murdered her cat with BB gun (77)
Michael Flynn[Major Secondary Character] black SUV (17) Mickey (18) cop for nearly 15 years; private security 2 years (29) beat-cop bravado; slight arrogant swagger; rigid stance; body crackled with suppressed energy; laugh lines around green eyes; hair too long to be regulation cut; an almost rebel appearance (30) enjoyed peace of cooking (32) knight in shining armor tendency to rescue women (35) trusted too easily (38) jumped feet first with women (59) Mick (62) smart; experienced (64) one year younger than John; competitive (68) 15 muscled pounds heavily then Quinn (89) kind; smart; attractive (100) father's strong sense of justice; mother's compassion for victims (211) full of life and laughter; liked a good joke (212) honorable; steadfast (287) patient; loved to fish (288)
Pat Flynn[No Appearance] John and Michael's father; cop; could do anything (189) died from unexpected heart attack 3-y-a (188) died at 50-y-o; strong sense of justice (211)
Teresa "Tess" Flynn[Secondary Character] John and Michael's sister; erratic driver; bright yellow Volkswagen Beetle; bouncing dark curly hair; energy to spare; wide grin; dimples; computer expert; ran Michael's office; took orders for 2 years; self-defense classes; gun training; wanted to be a field operative (18) snub-nosed .38 (30) Teresa (35) pretty, pixie-like face (56) tagged as a civilian consultant for the FBI because of her computer expertise (110) same green eyes as her brothers, only lighter (206)
Karl Franklin[No Appearance] Marlena's husband; victim of murder in Nashville; 3 sons, 1daughter (70) successful businessman; no financial problems; talked glowingly about his family; accused of killing his family, then committing suicide 4-y-a (122)
Marlena Franklin[No Appearance] Kark's wife; victim of murder in Nashville; 3 sons, 1daughter (70)
Rebecca Sue Franklin[No Appearance] Karl and Marlena's 3-y-o daughter; pigtails and ribbons (71) haunted Rowan (108)
Billy Grayson[No Appearance] killed in drug raid in Baton Rouge 6-7 years ago; in Rowan's FBI class (142)
Greg[No Appearance] Olivia's ex-husband; didn't like Eric (96)
Lars Richard Gueteschow[No Appearance] one of Rowan's cases; the Butcher of Brentwood; hacked up teenaged boys and girls, stored their body parts in a freezer; on death row in San Quentin (53)
Eric Hamilton [No Appearance] FBI; Rowan's former lover (54) Rowan's former boyfriend (95) demanded everything from Rowan; wanted Rowan to move in; smart; cocky; competent; didn't understand death and dying; never tried to understand Rowan; wanted Rowan because she was unattainable; betrayed Rowan (96)
Mrs. Gina Harper[One Appearance] divorced; two daughters; Copycat Killer's victim (80)
Kimberly Harper[One Appearance] Gina Harper's daughter; Copycat Killer's victim (381)
Natalie Harper[One Appearance] Gina Harper's daughter; Copycat Killer's victim (381)
Reggie Jackman[One Appearance] large, beefy man; sent to Cambria cabin by Collins; large, broad man who looked like he could break someone's neck without much effort (334)
Ben Jackson[One Appearance] interviewed Rowan; Denver detective; short; thin; coffee-colored skin; poker face; intelligent eyes; rigid posture; muscled and fit; impeccably dressed (10) deep voice steeped in anger (11) warmth and strength in hands (16)
Christine Jamison[One Appearance] clerk in flower shop in Los Angeles; under 30; blonde (27) pretty blue eyes (28) second victim of Copycat Killer (43)
Jim Jones[No Appearance] ex-Marine; Tess's other bodyguard (328)
Aunt Karen[No Appearance] Rowan's mother's sister (171)
Tom Krause[No Appearance] FBI Agent; seasoned veteran; worked cases with Rowan in Tennessee 2-y-a (69)
Lloyd[One Appearance] prisoner who impersonated Bobby for 14 months (256) 40s; short-cropped sandy blond hair; pointed chin; blue eyes; average height and build; sunken look of defeat seen in many lifers (252)
Danielle "Dani" Anne MacIntosh[No Appearance] Rowan's little sister (87) 4-y-o (230)
Elizabeth "Beth" Regina MacIntosh[No Appearance] 46-y-o; Rowan's mother (230) married 19 years; 6 kids; abused by husband (245) maiden name: Pierson (372) fair skin; white-blond hair (373)
Melanie Regina MacIntosh[No Appearance] Rowan's sister (169) 17-y-o 230)
Rachel Suzanne MacIntosh[No Appearance] Rowan's sister (169) 15-y-o (230)
Robert MacIntosh[Secondary Character] in Bellevue Hospital for The Criminally Insane; Rowan's father (20) insane 23 years (21) sat in chair, facing a wide, barred window; vacuous expression in his eyes (93) killed wife 23-y-a (94) catatonic zombie in loony bin (266) dark hair; brilliant blue eyes (373)
Robert "Bobby" William MacIntosh, Jr.[Secondary Character] mean; Lily hated him (136) Rowan's eldest brother; 8 years older than Rowan; killed his sisters (169) 18-y-o; blond hair; blue eyes; 6'1"; 170 pounds; no distinguishing marks; no tattoos; no piercings; looked like nice guy; evil (231) blond hair darkened while in prison, cut military style; hard face; cold eyes; pale skin; looked average, normal (239) killed without remorse, did it for sheer pleasure (249) 41-y-o; short, cropped hair; fuller face; broader body (359)
Miranda Moore[Heroine of Book 2 / The Hunt] [No Appearance] involved with Quinn when at Quantico; roommates with Rowan and Olivia (63) had difficult time after being booted from Quantico (64) stubborn; lives in Bozeman, Montana; attacked by serial killer; lived (392)
Father Peter O'Brien[Secondary Character] Boston; priest at Saint John's (63) Rowan had run to him 4-y-a when needed help (64) Rowan's brother (65) kindest, gentlest man Rowan ever knew (174) taller than John; gray eyes shining with concern; thin; faint lines on his handsome face; dark hair started graying on the sides, a few white strands intermingled here and there; 30-y-o (279)
Annette O'Dell [Brief Appearance] Rowan's producer (6) petite; 50-something; Hollywood producer (7) black bob; trim; attractive; bright, intelligent blue eyes; trendy; always spoke with strong inflections (23)
Olivia [Heroine of Book 3 / The Kill] [No Appearance] roommates with Miranda and Rowan at Quantico (63) "Liv" (65) divorced; didn't like Eric (96) heads up the Trace Evidence lab at Quantico (155)
George Petri[No Appearance] lost eye and leg in drug raid in Baton 6-7 years ago (142)
Suzannah "Sadie" Darlene Pierce[One Appearance] high-class call girl; learned early on to use her looks to get what she wanted; step-father stole her virginity when she was 14 (289) 17-y-o high school dropout from Arkansas; double-majoring in Art History and Business; $250 an hour, 4 hours minimum (290)
Quincy "Quinn" Peterson[Hero of Book 2 / The Hunt] FBI Special Agent; L.A. field director turned over Rowan's files to him; complicated friendship with Rowan (51) became friends with Rowan when she trained at Quantico (62) same height as Michael (89) brains; good looks; sometimes clueless (111) 15 years in FBI (208) stubborn (392)
Philip[No Appearance] Tess's bodyguard (327) in Delta Force with John (331)
Reginald Pomera[No Appearance] big-time drug lord that John was after (39) Denny's drug supplier; lethal (191)
Stuart PriceStuart Price: Sadie's step-father; she set his up on embezzlement charges; 5 years in prison; quarter million in restitution (289)
Doreen Rodriguez[No Appearance] first victim of Copycat Killer (4) 20-y-o; killed in Denver on Saturday in same manner as character named Doreen Rodriguez in Rowan's book, Crime of Opportunity (5) worked in Denver; born in Albuquerque (7)
Mandy Sayers[No Appearance] a high school classmate who shared a joint with Denny and John (189)
Denny Schwartz [No Appearance] made stupid mistake (58) John's best friend; lived down the street from Flynn's; did everything together; same age; same classes; liked the same games; always smiled; made John laugh; came from broken home; had two sisters (187) sold drugs; got involved with rough crowd; died when robbed hand that fed him (188)
Mrs. Schwartz[No Appearance] Denny's mother; worked two jobs; 3 children (188)
Sylvie[No Appearance] Barry's girlfriend (133)
Bob Smith[No Appearance] alias; for first time in 23 years, MacIntosh had two visits from Bob Smith; May 10 and Sept 23 (94)
William James Stanton[No Appearance] one of Rowan's cases; sexual sadist; took intense pleasure in torturing and raping his victims (53)
Colleen Thorne[Brief Appearances] FBI Agent; Quinn's partner; quiet; no-nonsense cop (86)
Tony[No Appearance] Michael's friend; FBI; worked bank fraud in L.A. bureau (61)
Hans Vigo[No Appearance] top profiler in FBI (197)
Judge Vernon "Vern" Watson[No Appearance] one of Bridget's clients; paid her $1,500 once a month for services (291)
Jessica Weston [No Appearance] broke Michael's heart 2-y-a (33) liar (72) beautiful; long, dark hair; big, chocolate brown eyes; Michael assigned to case when ex-boyfriend stalking her (160) lied to Michael; husband was a low-level crime boss; 2 years after returning to her husband, her body found in drainage ditch of San Gabriel Mountains (161)
Adam Williams[Major Secondary Character] Rowan's number one fan; 19-y-o; comes from troubled home; met Rowan 2-y-a; a good kid; troubled; no one to talk to except in cyberspace; worked in prop department; a bit slow mentally (46) lived in older section of Burbank; tall; skinny; pale; enormous brown eyes; short brown hair; hairless face (47) 445 West Toluca Boulevard, Unit B (126) smart, but not in traditional ways (143)
Mr. Wolfe[No Appearance] taught Sadie self defense (295)
Dara Young[Fictional Character] heroine of Rowan's books (209)

Locations, Organizations Found In "The Prey"
Location / Organization Description
Baton RougeFBI called in to aid DEA in big raid that turned into bloody battle (142)
Bellevue Hospital for The Criminally Insanewhere Robert MacIntosh was living (91)
Bozeman, Montanawhere Miranda Moore lives (392)
BurbankAdam Williams lived in older section of Burbank (46) 445 West Toluca Boulevard, Unit B (126)
Cambrianorth of Santa Barbara; location of safe house (306)
ColoradoRowan's home state (22)
Crime of ClarityRowan's [third] book (86) movie currently being filmed (121)
Crime of CorruptionRowan's latest best-selling novel (57) Rowan's fourth book (122)
Crime of JeopardyRowan's latest [fifth] book; due out next week (121)
Crime of OpportunityRowan's [first] book; character named Doreen Rodriguez murdered (5)
Crime of PassionRowan's [second] book; film soon to premier (5) movie coming out at the end of the week (121)
Dallaswhere Copycat Killer went to kill Sadie (288)
Denver, ColoradoRowan lived in home outside city for 3 years (35)
Falls Church Stationstation that Copycat Killer picked up Melissa Jane Acker (153)
House of TerrorRowan's work in progress (121)
Logan AirportBoston (91)
Nashvillelocation of crime scene that seemed oddly familiar to Rowan (69)
Ohiowhere Aunt Karen lived (144)
Portlandhome of Harper family (79)
QuanticoFBI training academy (60)
Saint John'schurch in Boston; where Father Peter O'Brien served (63)
San Fernando Missionnear flower shop where Christine Jamison worked (43)
San Gabriel MountainsTwo years after returning to her husband, Jessica Weston's body found in drainage ditch of San Gabriel Mountains (161)
San QuentinLars Richard Gueteschow, the Butcher of Brentwood (one of Rowan's cases) on death row in San Quentin (53)
Shreveport PenitentiaryRoger called to find out if inmate was still accounted for (91)
WashingtonRoger and Gracie's home (22)

"The Prey" Quotations
16death was inequitable and brutal.   It cut a path of misery in the hearts of everyone it touched.   (Rowan)
104John knew the only way to conquer evil was to face it head on.   (John)
112John understood her.   And she hated him for it.   (Rowan)
152Everything she learned about John intrigued her.   She wanted to know more.   (Rowan)
208"It felt so cathartic to write these books, to always have good triumph over evil when we both know the bad guys often win."   (Rowan)
212John always won because he played the game better.   He knew which buttons to push and he pressed them just right to get the reaction he wanted.   (John)
227Leaning forward he gently touched his lips to hers.   "You're not in this alone."   (John)
229"He [Roger] wants to punish criminals.   I want to avenge the victims."   . . .   The difference was so subtle she didn't know how to explain it   (Rowan)
251his betrayal would stay with her until the day she died.   She didn't know if she would ever be able to forgive him.   (Rowan)
263He [John] grieved; he wanted revenge.   But he'd also sent out this invisible protective shell to surround her.   She felt stronger in his presence, like she could get through this.   Alive and well.   (Rowan)
294She'd never thought it would happen to her.   (Sadie)
298She wouldn't let Bobby win.   Not for herself.   For them.   . . .   They deserved justice.   (Rowan)
301Had she been with him, the entire day would have been easier.   (John)
307John was irrevocably a part of her soul.   (Rowan)
316Some choices were almost impossible to make.   Some choices were between wrong and wrong, and there was not a damned thing you could do about it.   (Rowan)

Comments, Snarky Remarks, and Politically Incorrect Responses to Reviews Encountered Online
"Allison Brennan -- The Prey"

So many times I want to respond to a reviewer's comments about a book . . . but common courtesy and the rules of the site prevent me from spouting off.   But here on my own site, I'm doing so.
Reviewer Link / Brief Synopsis My Comments
Thelma Miller
. . . I can't review it as I haven't had a chance to read it yet . . .Seriously!   Why do you even bother posting this silly nonsense?   You are wasting your time posting it, but, more importantly, you are wasting the time of each person who has to read through this poorly written, grammatically incorrect piece of drivel!
. . . so much gnashing of teeth, moaning, whining and guilt slinging that I needed an anti-depressant . . .Not only did ScSpec entitle her entry "Whine, Whine, Whine" but she "Whine, Whine, Whined" through her entire tirade about how awful this book was.   She proved her discourtesy and disrespect to Allison Brennan and readers of these reviews by including the Michael spoiler without warning.   I hate these brutal reviews.
. . . (not a romance novel fan), but it is not a lot and is tastefully done . . .Surprised and appreciative at this positive review by a Non-Romance Reader.   Most mystery readers lambast romantic suspense books.
D McCammon
. . . couldn't make it through half of the first book before I wanted to kill the stupid twit myself . . .So far 7 people found this brutal review helpful.   How so?   So many times it seems the negative reviewers take great glee in their negativity.
S. Cochran
. . . I despised her and by the end I was rooting for the killer . . .Another very negative review with even more helpful votes.   I do believe hatred is more powerful than love and that the haters love to spread the hate.
Wanted to respond to Diane's comment and tell her that if she'd finished the book, she would find that there was just one killer, not two.   But experience tells me that people who are so vocal in their negative opinions (like S. Cochran and Diane) cannot "hear" anyone who may have a different take on the book.
Maria McBean
. . . It might be good romance reading but it's an awful crime novel.It is so unjust when people read a book that they believe to be in a particular genre and then lambast the author and give him or her poor ratings because the author wrote the book to fit the criteria of another genre.   If you don't want emotions and romance in your crime fiction, then don't pick up a romantic suspense novel.
Good Reads
Jeff Dickison
A really, really bad book. . . .   She has gone on to write some much better crime novels.Another example of a bad rating because a non-romance reader picked up what he thinks is a "crime novel."   Quite berating an author for writing a "Romantic Suspense" instead of a "Crime Novel."
Good Reads
. . . don't think the cover has anything to do with it because . . .A prime example of adhering to the axiom, "Never judge a book by it's cover."
Good Reads
. . . the detailed love scenes were an unnecessary addition . . .This is just the type of comment that leads Romantic Suspense writers to start cutting back on the romance.   Really hate that so many readers want more mystery and less romance . . . because publishers and authors buy into the feeling.   As a result, the really good Romantic Suspense writers start cutting back on the romance aspect of their books.

"Allison Brennan -- The Prey" Review and Information Links
Rated Posted Site Notes, Comments, Etc.
----Allison Brennan's WebsiteAuthor
----Allison Brennan's FacebookAuthor
----Allison Brennan's TwitterAuthor
----You TubeThe Prey trailer
. . . . . . . . .. . .
B- / hot01-09-2006All About Romance--Sandy Coleman // pretty good
4.15 average{52 reviews}Amazonas of: June 24, 2013
4.0012-28-2005Armchair Interviews--Andrea Sisco {a50} // great / very little story detail
3.60 average{29 ratings}Audible (An Amazon Compan)as of: July 27, 2013
4.00 average{42 ratings}Barnes & Nobleas of: June 27, 2013
Article02-08-2010Barnes and NobleAllison Brennan Article
2.00--Book Loons--Belle Dessler // pretty good in spite of PR quality
C08-05-2006Books For A Buckbrief review
----Books n BytesList of Allison Brennan's Books
Thread06-13-2010Coffee Time RomanceA.B.'s detailed response about "Series, Trilogies, Stand-Alones"
4.50....-....-2006Curled Up With A Good Book--Rashmi Srinivas // great review
----Fantastic FictionList of Allison Brennan's Books
----Fict FactList of Books In The Predator Series
----Fiction DBList of Allison Brennan's Books
Fresh Pick02-26-2007Fresh Fictionno review
4.01 average{107 reviews}Good Readsas of: July 25, 2013 // --Gina Robichaud, excellent review
3.66 average{65 ratings}Library Thingas of: July 27, 2013
positive03-07-2006Milady Insanitybrief review of entire Predator Trilogy books
so-so10-12-2007My Years of Reading Seriously--CJ // great review, detailed justifications, quotes
Interview11-20-2012Mysterious WritersA.B. Interview (tied to Kiss Me, Kill Me) // very interesting
4.00 average{258 ratings}Paperback Swapas of: July 27, 2013
----Publisher's Marketplacedetails about A.B.'s books, PR quotes, awards, etc.
4.50 / A Keeper05-06-2006Romance Reader At Heart--Debbie Jett {a34} // great personalized succinct review
Article03-30-2010RT {Romantic Times} Book ReviewsMessage From The Author // excellent
4.0003-30-2010RT {Romantic Times} Book Reviewsstandard PR review
4.05 average{22 reviews}Shelfarias of: June 27, 2013
----Stop, You're Killing MeList of Allison Brennan's Books
Interview--Suspense MagazineMarch 2008 Author of the Month
--12-27-2005To Be ReadA.B.'s feelings about the day of first publication
4.9505-28-2013Wolf Bear Does Booksshorter post on Amazon, Fiction DB, Good Reads, Library Thing, Shelfari

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♥   Very Subjective Rating
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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Kaki Warner -- Behind His Blue Eyes

Kaki Warner -- Behind His Blue Eyes

Rated: ♥ ♥ . ♥   {2.85}
Action: ♠♠♠ / Emotion: ♣♣♣ / Romance: ♥♥♥ / Sensuous: ♦ / Suspense: ♠♠♠♠
Action: 3.0 / Emotion: 3.0 / Romance: 3.0 / Sensuous: 0.5 / Suspense: 4.0  //  Historical Flavor: 4.0 // Laughter: 2 / Grins: 4 // Tears: 0 / Teary: 0

  2013 Best Historical Romance Finalist:
      Georgia Romance Writers: Published Maggie Award for Excellence
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Setting:       Baltimore
                    Heartbreak Creek / Colorado Territory
Era:             1871
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Important Note:
This review is based upon the "Advanced Reader Copy" and not the finished, polished, published version of Kaki Warner's first book in The Heroes of Heartbreak Creek Trilogy, Behind His Blue Eyes.

Updated this review (08-11-13) because I gave it an extra point simply to be kind to an author that writes beautifully and comes across as extremely personable.   It was impossible to let the 3.85 rating stand because it was not honest -- it was gratuitous.   After thinking about the many gratuitous and Public Relations reviews that have caused me to dismiss such reviews as being invalid -- not something to use as a guide about whether the book is truly worth reading -- I decided to be authentic.

Behind His Blue Eyes is well-written and well worth reading, but, sadly, it lacked that intense emotional connection to the protagonists that makes for a truly excellent read.   Having read all seven (to date) of Kaki Warner's books almost back-to-back, it is obvious that her writing style is evolving from a deeply emotional, laughter-inducing, 'grab you by the heartstrings' read into a more detailed 'use these writers techniques' format.   During the evolution (or maybe because she is under the gun to produce x number of books for the publisher in x number of months), Warner has not had the time or the wherewithal to incorporate dialogue and settings that emphasize her prodigious sense of humor.

Date Title Series Laughter Grins Tears Teary
01-2010  Pieces of Sky   01.   The Blood Rose Trilogy 13 5 14 3
06-2010  Open Country   02.   The Blood Rose Trilogy 16 3 6 7
01-2011  Chasing The Sun   03.   The Blood Rose Trilogy 5 -- 7 5
07-2011  Heartbreak Creek   01.   The Runaway Brides Trilogy 13 3 2 1
01-2012  Colorado Dawn   02.   The Runaway Brides Trilogy 7 2 1 3
06-2012  Bride of the High Country   03.   The Runaway Brides Trilogy 6 1 1 2
08-2013  Behind His Blue Eyes  01.   The Heroes of Heartbreak Creek Trilogy 2 4 -- --

Chapter One:
Audra Pearsall is introduced hiding the work she was doing for her father, Professor Percival Prendergast Pearsall, when his colleagues arrived at the Pearsall home in Baltimore.   Hiram Uxley, Mr. Beamis, Mr. Collins, and Richard Villars are members of the Baltimore Society of Learned Historians and arrive to present the annual Historian of Merit Medallion and Peabody Grant to the Professor.   Audra has been covering her father's dementia for the past two years by telling everybody that her father is studying in the New Mexico Territory while she transcribes his notes and writes the papers the Professor has been submitting to the Historical Society.

The foundation for vengeance is laid when Audra's former suitor, Richard, spots the Professor chasing his dog, Cleo, around the buggy house.   Audra made up a story about who Richard saw outside the window, but she is definitely worried about what actions Richard might take.

He was so desperate to establish himself as a leading American historian it was almost painful to watch.   (page 5)

Richard didn't like being thwarted and . . . if he found out she'd been lying to him and had cheated him out of a coveted award, there was no telling what he might do.   (page 7)

Winnie Abraham, Audra's surrogate mother and housekeeper tells Audra she has three choices: {1} jail; {2} marriage to Richard, or {3} leave -- go to Heartbreak Creek where her father had inherited the Prendergast property.   Audra decided to take her family of four to Heartbreak Creek.

Chapter Two:
Ethan Hardesty met Audra and her family as they exited from the train at the Boot Creek Depot near Heartbreak Creek.   Warner displayed her skills at painting vivid pictures of characters and scenery as she described the obstacles the travelers were facing.   Ethan couldn't help but notice that Audra was a dynamo as he lent a helping hand to her scatterbrained group.   Rather than give details of why Ethan left architecture behind to work for the railroad, it became obvious that Warner was going to keep readers waiting for all the details of Ethan's past as he briefly remembers his first solo job twenty-nine months ago in Salty Point, California (north of San Francisco), where he fell in love, had his heart broken and now suffered the torment of feeling responsible for three deaths.

Chapter Three:
Warner described Heartbreak Creek from Audra's point of view.   Loved the wonderful scene showcasing Deputy Thomas Redstone's sense of humor.   Audra worried about income as the family settled into the hotel.   When Audra called Ethan a hero for helping her once again, he turned cold and walked away.

She was the sort of woman who would expect too much from a man, and he was a man who had nothing to give.   (Ethan, page 23)

The suspense aspect of the story was introduced as Ethan met with Tait and Lucinda Rylander (Bride of the High Country) to discuss problems with theft, vandalism, Tim Gallagher (an Irish riding boss who was too fond of his whip) and the Prendergast / Pearsall right-of-way.

Chapter Four:
Thomas took Audra to the old Prendergast place.   Warner's talent at painting pictures revealed why Audra was horrified at the condition of the small two-room hovel.   When Ethan arrived to offer to buy rights to lay track through the Pearsall's land, Audra tarred him with the same brush as all the other high-handed railroaders who ran roughshod over any and all who interfered with their progress.   Thomas revealed his sadness because his people were victims of such practices.

The romance aspect of the story continued to develop when Thoms pointed out to Ethan that he'd lost that negotiation.   Ethan's original feelings of frustration had turned to admiration because of the way Audra refused him the right-of-way.

He felt invigorated and more alive than he had in three years.   (Ethan, page 34)

Chapter Five:
Having praised Warner for the way she revealed the entirety of Lucinda's history when she wrote Bride of the High County, it was sure a disappointment to find that Warner was going to revert to the tried and true method of feeding Ethan's history to readers in a piecemeal fashion.   In the previous chapters there were hints about a disaster that happened three years ago and now Warner lets Ethan briefly remember his arrival at the Salty Point Marine Hospital and his initial meeting with nurse, Eunice Eckhart.

Then readers are jerked back into Heartbreak Creek as Ethan heads to the sheriff's office to be entertained by another of the realistic and humorous portrayals of the Mars and Venus differences Warner usually inserts between the heros and heroines of her books.   Before Ethan can ask interim Sheriff Declan Brodie to join him to investigate the site of the water sluice that had been destroyed by a landslide, he cannot help but notice the differences in manner and tension between Declan and his wife, Edwina (Heartbreak Creek).

As soon as the door closed behind her [Edwina], the sheriff let out a deep breath.   "Thanks."
"For what?"
"Talking.   Every time I do, I get into trouble."   (Declan and Ethan, page 39)

If one were reading this book as a standalone read, it would be difficult to follow the conversation as Edwina prattled on about Pru, Brin and Joe Bill.   Because so many of the characters from the previous series (The Runaway Brides Trilogy) are spoken of with regularity and sometimes only in passing, only those who have read the previous books will understand what is being said.   (These connecting series of books have the makings of an old west version of Robyn Carr's Virgin River Series.)

Again Warner describes the land beautifully and Ethan cannot help but appreciate the solitude of the land as he and Declan ride out to the damaged sluice.   The suspense kicks up another notch when Ethan talks to Mr. Hopewell and his son who were working on the sluice to learn that the workers were already pointing accusatory fingers regarding the rockslide.   Upon further investigation, Declan and Ethan found signs that revealed sabotage.

Chapter Six:
Warner begins settling into a comfortable slow-paced method of story telling.   At the beginning of the chapter she inserts another entry into the ongoing, piecemeal saga of Ethan and Eunice before inserting details about how Audra and her family were settling into the remote, lonely, crowded cabin.   The incorporation of the previous members of the Heartbreak Creek cast are neatly woven into the story as Lucinda invited Audra's misfits to join her Heartbreak Creek misfits for Sunday luncheon after church.

One phrase that did not seem to particularly fit Ethan's personality was the way Warner sometimes ended Ethan's thoughts with the phrase "God bless her."   Apparently Warner likes to use this Southern-sounding phrase, because she used it quite successfully during the telling of Edwina's story (Heartbreak Creek).   It didn't work so well here.

All of which only added to the irritation still simmering after his latest confrontation with Audra Pearsall, God bless her.   (Ethan, page 56)

Chapter Seven:
By now, Warner has settled into such a slow pace while telling the story, that it is just too easy to put this book aside and do the dishes.   The romance between Ethan and Audra is emphasized during their mutual, but un-admitted interest in the other.   Ethan keeps using adjectives like "stubborn," "willful," and "pigheaded" to describe Audra.   Apparently he finds such behavior endearing.

Warner also has a tendency to feature the growing relationships between the women of Heartbreak Creek in her books.   She continues to develop Audra's personality as she plays cards with Edwina, Pru and Lucinda while they wait on their men to return from the sluice, which had been intentionally set afire.   It is obvious that Edwina is suffering from postpartum depression and Audra is uncomfortable with all the girl talk.

Chapter Eight:
The slow pace continues as Warner keeps Ethan and Audra at odds and in close proximity.   Ethan is frustrated when he sees Audra alone at the Pearsall cabin (because there is a killer lose) when she rushes home to get her father's beloved Cleo, who managed to get lost in the woods.

Chapter Nine:
Finally, the story begins picking up its pace as Warner writes an emotional account of the leave-taking between the Heartbreak Creek residents and Pru, who is going to Indiana to teach at Hilltop Christian Academy for People of Color.   This is really a great marketing tool, because Warner has written so much about Thomas and Pru across the past four books, that it is impossible not to want to read Thomas and Pru's story whenever it comes out.

The degree of excitement and suspense are increased as another fire is set.   Audra begins to wonder if Ethan is behind the fires because her cabin was targeted.   Lucinda's leadership skills are highlighted as she begins organizing the exodus of the Heartbreak Creek citizens when the fire began spreading fast.

End of Chapter By Chapter Synopses
From this point on Warner continues telling Ethan and Audra's story at a stronger, more engaging pace.   The story of Ethan's very off-kilter love affair with Eunice is interwoven between suspenseful details of the death and destruction happening around Heartbreak Creek as the building of the railroad is being hampered.   It was rather clever of Warner to provide Eunice with personality characteristics that enabled Ethan to better understand what was happening in the mind of the villain who was creating havoc.

Just as Warner continued to entertain readers with the dynamics of the growing relationship between Audra and the women of Heartbreak Creek, she showcased the camaraderie growing between Ethan and the male members of the cast as they frequently met at the Red Eye Saloon (away from their women) to trade insults and discuss ways to stop and apprehend the villain.   When Angus "Ash" and Maddie Wallace returned from their trip to Texas they brought a drover with them, Rayford "Rafe" Jessup, who added another number to the growing group of heros living in the world of Heartbreak Creek.

Warner gave readers just enough information about Rafe to inspire a deep interest to learn more about him.   Naturally, it will be easy to buy a copy of the next book in the series (Something In His Smile) to read Rafe's story.   One line detailing Rafe's personality was particularly memorable.

He [Rafe] and Brodie could fill a book with all the words they didn't use.   (Ethan, page 209)

Rafe was just about the only new secondary character that drew such profound interest.   Warner, who usually includes very memorable secondary characters that come to life and add a rich flavor to her stories, failed to develop the secondary characters in this book to that degree.   For some reason it was difficult to get a grasp on the personalities of Curtis and Winnie Abraham, the elderly black couple that was part of Audra's family.   Sadly, this couple seemed to fade into the woodwork after they served their purpose of offering advice or taking care of Audra and her father.

There was one returning Heartbreak Creek character that added great enjoyment to the story.   The snappy comments Doctor Boyce (who made minimal appearances in the previous books) made to Ethan and Audra each and every time they showed up at his infirmary (which was quite often) was a wonderful example of Warner's skill when it comes to minor character development and showcasing her amazing sense of humor.

Warner attempted to paint a realistic picture of the emotional devastation that a daughter must feel as she watches her intelligent, vibrant father fade into a puddle of dementia.   Audra is heartbroken as she tries to care for her father while he calls her Mary (his wife's name) and is not aware that he has a daughter.   And while it is easy to assume that the picture Warner painted of Professor Pearsall to be very realistic (wondering away from his home and his keepers, not recognizing his daughter, only remembering his dog, Cleo), somehow Warner missed the mark in engendering sympathetic emotions to suffer along with Audra at her father's dementia.

It was difficult to get a grasp on Audra's personality.   Was she prim and proper or not?   Warner utilized the repetition of a particular 'give and take' phrase between Ethan and Audra that implied that Audra was all about propriety.   Ethan immediately began calling Audra "Miss Audra" after meeting her and each time he did so, Audra would respond, "Pearsall".   At first this was a cute, attention-grabbing phrase, but after a while it was obvious Audra wasn't sincere in her wish that Ethan would address her with the respect she felt was her due.

Then later, after Audra determined that she was in love with Ethan, she pursued him like a modern-day woman, suggesting they engage in premarital sex rather than risk marriage before they knew if they were compatible.   Sadly, this abrupt turn around in decorous behavior was a bit confusing.   And since Warner is ever one to throw innuendo around while the romance is building between her characters, it just didn't make sense that innocent Audra would know how to make the lust-inducing actions she employed to tempt Ethan to sleep with her.

It was also difficult to connect with Ethan on an emotional level because it was difficult to understand where he was coming from.   From the lack of information about Ethan before his disastrous relationship with Eunice at the Salty Point Marine Hospital almost three years ago and because he never seems to worry about money (purchasing Audra's right-of-way and then her horse and buggy in his efforts to be helpful and protective), the reader is left to assume that Ethan grew up in a typically happy, wealthy family.   While it was easy to admire Ethan because "he was the sort of man who wanted to make things right.   To look after people.   To fix things." (page 125), there was a sense that Ethan's personality was underdeveloped.   He felt incomplete.

If you are at all familiar with Warner's writing style, you will know that while she imbues her love scenes with plenty of romance, she is not one to share intimate, spicy details of the event.   Warner utilized the same style when penning the one love scene between Ethan and Audra, so do not expect any sizzle and minimal sexuality during the telling of their story.

The Epilogue was beautifully written.   Using Lucinda's point of voice was inspired.   What a wonderful ending to this book -- but not the story of Heartbreak Creek residents.   It showcased the happily-ever-after ending between Ethan and Audra and prepared readers for events to come.

In summary, Behind His Blue Eyes is another well-written, entertaining read.   Kaki Warner features the following in this story: {1} Ethan, a young, handsome hero who took a deep emotional hit three years ago but proves himself to be made of heroic material with his sense of honor and his need to protect those under his care; {2} Audra, a spitfire of a women, who is the sole care-giver of her family and who is not afraid to stand up for herself and what she believes in; {3} several adventurous events and the exciting finale added interest and depth to the story; {4} the minimal emotional connection to Ethan and Audra was disappointing; {5} the romance that grew between such strong protagonists was well done; {6} the degree of suspense was stimulating; {7} the inclusion of characters from previous books greatly increased the enjoyment of the read; {8} the historical accuracy in the description of the landscape and the building of railroads added to the realism of the story; and {9} a smattering of sensuality was included in the love scene.

Let's not forget the cover.   While the mountains in the background proclaim "rugged western romance novel," the hero pictured in the forefront screams "I'm a young kid, wet behind the ears, and have to grow some beardly scruff and age before I can be considered hero material."

Sadly, the lack of enjoyment in this book lies not in the writing or in the story line, but in the frame of mind of the reader.   I just could not get into this book.   Neither Ethan nor Audra inspired that deep emotional connection that is necessary for an outstanding read.   (Also, because of being in an apparent writing slump, I apologize for the sub-standard quality of this very difficult to write review.)
--Vonda M. Reid (Sunday, July 21, 2013 : 4:05 p.m.)     [320]

Books In The Series: "The Heroes of Heartbreak Creek Trilogy"
# Date Title Hero Heroine
01.08-2013Behind His Blue EyesEthan Hardesty: railroad advance man; former architect Audra Pearsall: bluestocking, aspiring writer
02.xx-2014Something In His SmileRayford "Rafe" Jessup: former Texas lawman; wrangler--
03.xx-201x--Thomas Redstone: Cheyenne Dog Soldier Prudence "Pru" Lincoln: teacher

Characters Found In "Behind His Blue Eyes"
Character Description
Ethan Hardesty[Hero] wore Stetson; partial to breasts (11) a railroad advance man; young architect (13) sable hair with golden streaks curled over his collar; looked almost boyish; weary droop around deep-set blue eyes; dark stubble shadowed his square jaw (21) quite handsome (22) dark; tall (23) even dressed in work clothes, had "presence"; confident; at home, no matter where he was; tall; lean; strong (30) two sisters (38) played fiddle; music eased his troubles (41) teasing light in arresting blue eyes (52) boyish, roguish, intimate crooked smile; fine white teeth (55) glib words came easily to him (67) "he was the sort of man who wanted to make things right. To look after people. To fix things." (125) tall; lean; long back; long legs; kind of grace that displayed a man comfortable with himself (158) long stride with alight spring in his step; upright and energetic posture (159) 25-y-o 3-y-a = 28-y-o (183)
Audra Pearsall[Heroine] brown hair; 26-y-o; wore spectacles (2) horrid liar; faulty vision (6) small woman; dark brown brows; uncommonly pretty; fine-boned; delicate (10) remarkable greenish hazel eyes; gold streaked hair; dab gray dress (11) trim ankles; rounded calves; forceful personality (15) intelligent woman in spite of addlepated manner (23) cantankerous; hard-headed; short-sighted (33) firecracker; passion; strength (34) exasperating (58) clever; beautiful eyes (67) wanted to be an author (77) flowery fragrance (94) abhors confrontation (96) "Audie"; father's nickname (176) a talker; curious; persistent (209)
. . . . . .
Curtis Abraham[Secondary Character] Winnie's husband (1) doesn't talk; married 30 years (7)
Winnie Abraham[Major Secondary Character] white cap atop tight gray curls; Curtis' wife; (1) stout; dark skin; served as Audra's mother since 6-y-o; housekeeper; cook; nurse; benevolent tyrant; ruled household with sharp criticisms and gentle hugs (2) married 30 years (7) short; broad (158)
Cal Bagley[One Appearance] owner of Heartbreak Creek general story (80)
Mr. Beamis[One Appearance] member of Baltimore Society of Learned Historians; called on Professor Pearsall (4)
Big Swede[No Appearance] drunk, fell off horse, hit head (87)
Billy[One Appearance] Heartbreak Creek Hotel bellboy (259)
Chief Black Kettle[Actual Historical Character / No Appearance] died in 1968; tribe moved to Oklahoma; Thomas a member of his tribe (25)
Peter Bonet[Major Secondary Character] wire-framed spectacles; neither young or old; slim; wearing checkered suit; a bowler hat over curly red hair; earnest expression; clean-shaven face; new editor of Heartbreak Creek Herald; Irish (120) nice-looking (122) officious; arrogant; brother died in tunnel explosion when working for railroads (132) intensity about him that was off-putting; pushy (134) exacting employer with a set way of doing things; in newspaper business 12 years; quite knowledgeable; lacked journalistic objectivity; harsh attitude towards railroads (138) innuendo, condescending remarks, expressions of pained disappointment (195)
Doctor Boyce[Secondary Character] Heartbreak Creek doctor; older man; head full of white hair; faded brown eyes; spectacles (83) tall, thin fellow with a bow in his shoulders; a man who cared about his patients (85)
Janet Boyce[Rare Appearances] Doc's wife (85) likeable woman; ready smile; gentle manner (86) horrible cook (110)
Mrs. Bradshaw[No Appearance] Mrs. Thockmorton's chaperone (308) // featured in Bride of the High Country
Brin Brodie [Rare Appearances] Declan's daughter; more trouble than all the brothers put together; special place in Thomas's heart (30) lively gray eyes a shade lighter than Tait's (75)
Declan Brodie[Major Secondary Character] [Hero of Heartbreak Creek] temporary sheriff; ranching is his real love (25) 3 sons, 1 daughter by first wife; 1 son by Ed (26) big; taller than Ethan; broader than Thomas; dark brown hair and eyes; slow smile; crushing handshake; possessed a nature of stillness; utter confidence; relaxed manner; intelligence behind his probing gaze; dark coloring; broad as a bull; subdued (37) easy manner; confident attitude; patience; Ethan liked (40)
Edwina "Ed" Brodie[Major Secondary Character] [Hero of Heartbreak Creek] Declan's wife; had baby boy (26) fair skinned; tall; slender; gregarious; total lack of guile; every emotion revealed on her pretty face; wide blue eyes; drawling up and down cadence of the South (37) light brown hair (38) high-strung; not much of a cook (40) emotional Southerner (51) sandy-haired Southerner; vivacious nature made everyone want to be around her; now "one frayed thread away from hysteria" (139) excellent seamstress; could find water with willow switches; could play piano blindfolded (152)
Joe Bill [Brodie][Rare Appearance] [Declan's son (39)]
R.D. Brodie[Rare Appearances] Declan's oldest son; spitting image of Declan (53) understands some Chinese (141)
Whitney "Whit" Ladoux Brodie[Frequent Appearances] Declan and Ed's new baby boy (38) 2 months, 10 days old (59)
Cleo[Animal] Professor's little dog (4) thrashing badger-sized dog; barked constantly (10)
Mr. Collins[One Appearance] member of Baltimore Society of Learned Historians; called on Professor Pearsall (4)
Cricket[Animal] Audra's horse; Curtis wary of him (74)
Mr. Driscoll[Occasional Appearances] Heartbreak Creek livery owner (20)
Eunice Eckhart[No Appearance] woman Ethan fell in love with // firecracker; head of nurses at Salty Point Marine Hospital; slender frame; blond hair (35) most arresting face Ethan had ever seen; high cheekbones; deep brown eyes; sensual mouth that curved with a smile that held secrets (36) remarkable eyes full of secrets; teasing smile (45) didn't allow kissing; had to be in control of lovemaking (94) incapable of love; damaged (124) cold detachment (236)
Tim Gallagher[Secondary Character] Irish riding boss; too fond of whip (24) silver-handled whip; foreman; not well liked by Chinese (111) auburn hair; big Irishman (154)
Mr. Gebbers[One Appearance] owned Heartbreak Creek bank (80)
Hendricks[No Appearance] woodcutter; knew the woods well; supposedly fell off cliff (40)
Mr. Hopewell[Rare Appearances] working on sluice; middle-aged man; ragged homespun clothing; slouch hat; looked like prospector (41)
__ Hopewell[Rare Appearances] adolescent son of Mr. Hopewell; working on sluice (41)
Richard Hunt[Actual Historical Character / No Appearance] architect who made Victorian Gothic style popular (57)
Rayford "Rafe" Jessup[Rare Appearances] [Hero of Book 2] wore dusty Stetson, dark oiled duster; Texan; wrangler Ash hired for his herd (208) charms the ladies without uttering a word; 30-ish; blond; clean-shaven; great confidence; a calm, unhurried manner; not particularly handsome; looked older with squint lines around dark blue eyes and deep brackets around his mouth; kind of sadness and weary resignation in his eyes (209) shot several times; once a Texas lawman; got caught in a shoot-out over a woman; calm; mild-mannered; holding a wealth of anger inside (250)
Kim[One Appearance] Chinese medicine man (142) old; wrinkled face (143)
Prudence "Pru" Lincoln[Secondary Character] [Heroine of Book 3] Edwina's sister (40) Edwina's half-black half sister; leaving for Indiana in few days (50) stunning mulatto (51) brown skin; discolored skin on wrist from long-ago scalding; most beautiful woman Audra had ever seen (53) a fusser; wore hair in tightly bound bun (59) obviously cared for Thomas; going to Indiana to teach school for freed men and woman (59)
Miriam[One Appearance] worked at Heartbreak Creek Hotel (233)
Mitchell[No Appearance] Professor Pearsall believed Ethan was Mitchell (12)
Uncle Edward [Pearsall][No Appearance] Percival's elder brother (6) Audra told Richard the man he saw outside was Uncle Edward (6)
Mary Pearsall[No Appearance] Audra's mother (12) died 20-y-a (47)
Professor Percival Prendergast Pearsall[Major Secondary Character] Audra's father (2) driving force behind the Baltimore Society of Learned Historians for so many years, he had become the yardstick by which all other members were measured; exacting standards (3) dementia for 2 years (7)
Phoenix "Phe"[Animal] Audra's new dog; stray surveyor found in canyon; singed a bit; half-starved; sad brown eyes; young; nearly-full sized; mostly hound; long dropping ears; jowly muzzle; ribs showed (161) long, thin tail; speckled skins showing beneath singed black and white coat; scar cut through the fur by one soulful eye; untrained; distrustful (162) "Phe" (167)
Cyrus Prendergast[No Appearance] owned original deed to land 30-y-a (26)
Pringle[No Appearance] Mrs. Thockmorton's irascible butler; curmudgeon (310) // featured in Bride of the High Country
Buster Quinn[No Appearance] Mrs. Thockmorton's chaperone (308) ex-Pinkerton (310) // featured in Bride of the High Country
Deputy Thomas Redstone[Major Secondary Character] [Hero of Book 3] swarthy man; wearing normal attire; temple braids; feather tucked into a strip of leather holding back rest of long black hair; stern-faced (19) strong white teeth in a smile that took your breath away; Cheyenne; sincerity in gentle smile; odd sense of humor (20) Cheyenne Dog Soldier; with Chief Black Kettle's tribe; white grandfather; all warrior (25) broad sturdiness; not as tall as Ethan (30) Cheyenne Dog Soldier (51) blunt-tipped fingers (61)
Renny[Animal] Ethan's big buckskin (12) named after James Renwick, Jr. (74)
James Renwick, Jr.[Actual Historical Character / No Appearance] architect; lofty designs; Ethan's mentor; named horse after him (57)
Biddy Rickman[Rare Appearances] pastor's wife; pianist of Come All You Sinners Church (56)
Pastor Rickman[Rare Appearances] pastor of Come All You Sinners Church; wild hair; arm-waving; man in later years (56)
Rimmick[No Appearance] patient in infirmary (87)
Lucinda Rylander[Major Secondary Character] [Heroine of Bride of the High Country] Tait's wife; principal of the Pueblo Pacific Bridge Line (12) owner of Heartbreak Creek Hotel; striking blond woman; cool, reserved, unapproachable manner; watchful green eyes swirled with currents of distrust; face softened when looked at husband; so astute it was almost off-putting; barely masked strength of will (23) smile left dimple in left cheek (48) elegantly gloved hands (49) serene-looking (51) Irish orphan who lived in brothel (51) cultured voice (52) carried four-shot pepperbox (157) proverbial mother hen; the ultimate manager; "she wanted everything to be right and everyone to be happy" (165) relentless organizer (233) serene; unflappable (244)
Tait Rylander[Major Secondary Character] [Hero of Bride of the High Country] principal of the Pueblo Pacific Bridge Line (12) dark; as tall as Ethan; black hair; intelligent gray eyes; scar down one side of his face; big-knuckled hand; scarring; thickening around eyes; once a bare-knuckle fighter; fine suit; elegant bearing; man of authority; Lucinda's husband; had no trouble keeping up with wife (23) once hanged; fought for money (51) elegant; intense gray eyes; engaging smile; scar from old rope burn just above color (53) compelling pewter gray eyes; long scar above right temple; slight limp (75) scarred knuckles rose like fresh bee stings; intense (91)
Mrs. Throckmorton[No Appearance] Lucinda's guardian (50) in Denver until next month (51) // featured in Bride of the High Country
Roger Tilly[Rare Appearances] newly hired apprentice photographer for Heartbreak Creek Herald; young man; freckled cheeks (196)
Tricks[Animal] Ash's Irish wolfhound; giant gray dog; gentle as a kitten (207)
Richard Villars[Secondary Character] member of Baltimore Society of Learned Historians; called on Professor Pearsall; Audra's onetime suitor; treasurer (4) submitted paper on cave drawings in southern Appalachians; desperate to establish himself as a leading historian; better researcher than writer (5) intensive, intrusive dark gaze (6) didn't like being thwarted; ambitious (7)
Hiram Uxley[One Appearance] member of Baltimore Society of Learned Historians; called on Professor Pearsall; president; most officious member of group; mustache (4)
Varney[No Appearance] patient in infirmary (87)
Angus "Ash" Wallace[Brief Appearances] [Hero of Colorado Dawn] Maddie's husband; Scottish earl; in Texas on photography expedition (50) "Ash" (76) wizard with numbers; likes to fight; helluva shot (154) Earl of Kirkwell; Ash to his friends; tall; lanky; erect posture of a military man; British Calvary, retired; graying hair; strongly built; green eyes; rifleman; brawler; owner of fine Scotch whiskey (207) patchwork of scars across his torso, especially along left side of rib cage (249) puckered scar on shoulder from bullet in India; saber slashes on arm and neck (250)
Maddie Wallace[Brief Appearances] [Heroine of Colorado Dawn] English lady; Angus's wife; in Texas on photography expedition (50) Madeline; auburn hair; countess; smile involved her entire face; sparkle in her beautiful brown eyes; cultured British accent; natural warmth (206)
Ezra Weems[Frequent Appearances] local prospector; saw surveyor with the Southern Utah and Atlantic near end of canyon last month (91) prosecutor; dirty, bearded, blackened stubs for teeth; almost as big as Brodie, wearing fur boots and slouch hat that had more holes than fabric (155)
Kelvin Witherspoon[One Appearance] circuit judge; hated Heartbreak Creek (193) small, dandified older man; pinched expression of a person suffering chronic dyspepsia; ill-fitting, brightly white, over-large porcelain false teeth (197) top and bottom eyelids heavy; dark irises seemed sunken behind narrow slits of puffy flesh; red nose proclaimed him a drinker (198)
Yancey[Infrequent Appearances] Heartbreak Creek Hotel desk clerk; elderly gentleman; gummy smile; a few brown teeth (20)

Locations, Organizations Found In "Behind His Blue Eyes"
Location / Organization Description
Chapter OneBaltimore / February 1871
Chapter TwoColorado Territory / March 1871
. . . . . .
Arlan placeempty residence; offered to Pearsall family as temporary residence (112) description of house (122)
Baltimorehometown of the Pearsall's (1)
Baltimore Society of Learned Historians members include: Professor Pearsall, Hiram Uxley, Mr. Beamis, Mr. Collins, and Richard Villars (3)
Butler's English Usage ManualAudra's English reference book (1)
Central Pacificrailroad; constructed Transcontinental line; Irish went on strike (24)
Colorado Territorybook setting (9) territory where town of Heartbreak Creek can be found (1)
Come All You Sinners Church of Heartbreak Creekpeculiar mix of different faiths and old and new architecture (56) homey; welcoming (58)
The Denver and Santa Fe RailroadEthan's employer (12)
Hattie's Millinery Shoppenext door to Herald (122)
Heartbreak Creektown in Colorado Territory (1) a town in transition; description (18)
Heartbreak Creek Development CompanyRylanders majority stockholders; financed the sluice (41) dedicated substantial amount of stock to the town (42)
Heartbreak Creek HeraldHeartbreak Creek newspaper; Peter Bonet, editor; Audra's employer (120)
Heartbreak Creek Hotelowner: Lucinda Rylander (13)
Hilltop Christian Academy for People of Colorin Indiana; where Pru going to teach (73)
Historian of Merit Medallionannual award presented by the Baltimore Society of Learned Historians; presented to Professor Pearsall for his paper The Development of Gas Artillery Capsules and How They Might Have Altered the Outcome of The War of Rebellion
Mulberry Creekroute Rylanders took when searching for Professor (99)
New Mexico Territorylocation where Audra told historians that her father had been for the past 2 years (4)
Peabody Grantannual grant presented by the Baltimore Society of Learned Historians (5)
old Prendergast cabinProfessor's inheritance (7) 2 miles up the canyon from Heartbreak Creek (19) horrid; remote; lonely; gloomy; beyond rustic (50)
Pueblo Pacific Bridge LineTait and Lucinda two principals; ran through Heartbreak Creek Canyon; issues with right-of-way and sluice bringing water from deeper in canyon (12)
Red Eye Saloonnext door to Heartbreak Creek Hotel (18) regular gathering place for the men
Salty Pointnorth of San Francisco (35) site of Ethan's first solo job; fell in love; heart broken; three died (13)
Salty Point Marine Hospitalnorth of San Francisco (35) more prison than hospital; built in 1850 to benefit sick, infirm, and elderly sailors who had nowhere else to go; palpable gloom (45)
Southern Utah and Atlanticrival railroad to The Denver and Santa Fe Railroad (62)
Transcontinentalrailroad constructed by Central Pacific; Irish went on strike (24)

"Behind His Blue Eyes" Quotations
15the women hovered close by, poised to offer helpful tips in case he somehow lost the ability to reason or forgot what he was doing.   (Ethan)
60"I declare, it would be easier to put dancing pumps on a cat than get words out of that man."   (Edwina)
75it was nice to be looked after for a change.   (Audra)
96She shot him one of those sarcastic eye rolls that women do so well   (Ethan)
103Ethan knew bad things happened to the innocent and guilty alike.   (Ethan)
117He could love this stubborn, gentle woman.   With her, he could regain the peace that had eluded him for so long, and maybe even find his redemption.   With her, he might find the will to put the past behind him.   (Ethan)
166"You're a rare creature, Audra Pearsall.   A woman who gives more than she takes, and brings happiness, rather than pain, to those around her."   (Ethan)

"Kaki Warner -- Behind His Blue Eyes" Review and Information Links
Rated Posted Site Notes, Comments, Etc.
----Kaki Warner's WebsiteAuthor
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----Kaki Warner's BlogAuthor
. . . . . . . . .. . .
----Amazonas of: July 23, 2013 (book not yet released)
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----Fantastic FictionList of Kaki Warner's Books
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Interview03-18-2013Five Scribes--Theresa Rizzo // "The Sandy Writing Contest" Success Stories -- Kaki Warner
4.00 average{3 ratings}Good Readsas of: July 23, 2013 (book not yet released)
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Interview06-11-2012Love To Read For Fun--Marquetta // wonderful, great details
Finalist2013Maggie Award For ExcellenceGeorgia Romance Writers
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Article01-09-2012Reader, I Created HimTips on Writing in The Male Point of View
Article06-06-2013Regan's Romance Reviews Kaki Warner talks Trains!
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Interview06-04-2012Smexy Booksa must read // lots of interesting detail
----The Best ReviewsKaki Warner Mimi Biography
2.8505-23-2013Wolf Bear Does Booksshorter post on Amazon, Fiction DB, Good Reads, Library Thing, Shelfari

♥   Disclaimer:   The ARC copy of this book was gifted to me by Kaki Warner. Thanks, Kaki.
♥   Very Subjective Rating
♣   Will add your Behind His Blue Eyes review link to table, just ask