I am reviewing this title as part of the Mystery/Thriller Week 2018 event.
“Before the storm” is the first novel I’ve read by this author, and is also the first in her Rarity Cove series. My thanks to Leslie Tentler for providing me with a copy of her novel.
I have to state up front that I LOVED the setting for this novel. This time last year my husband and I visited South Carolina and were astounded by its history and its beauty.
Samatha Marsh has been her name for only the past six years. Before that she was Trina Grissom, a woman with a sordid past and dangerous ‘friends‘. Lured and abused as a teenager, Trina was coerced into working at a seedy strip club by a member of the Leary family. The Irish mafia-like family who worked out of Memphis, Tennessee.
“It was an isolated life, but far better than the one she’d left behind.”
Now Samantha is twenty-seven and runs a small café and bakery in the town of Rarity Cove. No one in Rarity Cove knows about her dark, secret past. She has taken great pains to ensure this. Sam is aided in running her business by ex-con, Luther. Luther adores Sam and is very grateful to her for giving him a job when others would not.
Mark St. Clair is a handsome, thirty-three year old widower with a young daughter. His beloved wife perished in a car accident two years ago. Since the accident his little daughter Emily has been mute.
Mark’s family own a hotel resort on the Atlantic coast of South Carolina. Built around the remains of a plantation, the hotel keeps him very busy as manager. Though he owns the hotel jointly with his television star actor brother, Carter, and his sister Mercer, it is Mark who shoulders the responsibility of the running of the St. Clair resort and he is an astute businessman.
When Mark meets Samantha during the town’s annual Founder’s Day event, there is an immediate attraction on both sides. Samantha does not want to get involved though, as she fears her past would eventually come to light and she might be placing Mark and his little daughter, Emily in jeopardy.
Love has a way of winning out, and despite her reluctance, Sam and Mark begin a tentative relationship. Then… Sam’s past comes to call.
At about the 80% mark, this novel turned from romance to pulse-pounding suspense. Samantha’s past has caught up with her and a deadly hurricane lashes the coastal town.
An eminently readable novel, “Before the storm” is a compelling romantic suspense novel which will be enjoyed by fans of Julie Garwood, Carla Neggers, Linda Howard and the like. As many of my followers know, I’m not a huge fan of romance. Although both plot and characters were quite formulaic, this novel DID hold my interest to the end. I guess I just wanted to read the ‘happily ever after’ for myself. The reason I’m rating this romantic suspense novel as highly as I am is that I believe (from my many years of working in a public library) that this book will be very well received by readers who enjoy romantic fiction. It had a trace of a ‘Harlequin’/’Mills & Boon’ feel, but that was laced with enough suspense that it was lifted up from the everyday romance. I was a bit surprised that it was offered to me as a ‘mystery’. Overall, an easy, entertaining novel.
If you are a fan of romantic suspense, the second novel in this series is “Low Tide” and features Carter, the actor brother.
Leslie Tentler is a multi-award winning novelist. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, and Novelists, Inc. A native of East Tennessee, she currently resides in Atlanta.