June 2010 (print version)
August 2009 (ebook version)
A wounded cop. A frightened woman. A desperate race to save a child in danger…
In a single phone call, Lily Brent’s entire life—past and future—becomes foggy with confusion and danger. Her estranged sister is dead, and the body is lacking one definitive mark: a surgery scar from the kidney Lily thought she’d donated to her sister long ago.
There’s more than a mystery on her hands. There’s a niece she never knew she had, and a madman on her trail who’s hell-bent on getting the child back.
When a beautiful woman crashes her car into his remote mountain gas station, followed closely by a man with a silencer-equipped pistol, three years of inactive duty fall away as Miles Goodwin springs into action. He saves Lily and her golden child, but nothing can save him from the painful reminder of the family he lost. Retreating to his emotional coma, however, isn’t an option; they’re far from safe.
There’s something strange about a six-year-old girl who’s never eaten a hamburger or heard of Tinkerbell—and who seems to be the source of psychic phenomena so powerful, someone’s willing to kill to get her back.
For my IT Factor posts I normally try to review debut books that are as current as I can get my hands on. If you’ll notice, THE MIDNIGHT EFFECT came out in ebook format last August. Not exactly timely as far as market analysis goes. But I was intrigued after learning that Ms. Fryer is a 3 time Golden Heart finalist. In fact, the GH was the first writing contest she ever entered, finaling in the Long Historical category with her 3rd completed manuscript. Don’t you just hate her? *G* After finaling two more times in the GH, her 4th attempt with THE MIDNIGHT EFFECT paid off, winning the 2008 Golden Heart for Best Series Contemporary Adventure/Suspense manuscript. After receiving a Top Pick from RTBook Reviews in June when the print book came out, I figured I needed to give this one a look-see.
This book definitely starts out with a bang. Well, actually a crash and an explosion, followed by a hold-on-to-your-seat escape through dark woods in a truck with no headlights. Very action-packed and fast-paced. After reading the first 3 page turning chapters, I know why this book finaled in the Golden Heart. I would’ve given it a 9 myself.
The paranormal element centers around the niece Annie. Her psychic abilities are doled out a piece at a time, enough to spook the other characters that something is quite different about this child. The author isn’t heavy-handed with the paranormal incidents, preferring to keep them few and far between. This is not necessarily a bad thing and instead puts the focus on the romantic suspense part of the story.
Miles’ grief eats away at him every minute of every day until he’s little more than a shell of the man he used to be. The reader experiences his sorrow over losing his wife and child time and again. His guilt over finding Lily desirable and his battle to fight this attraction keep the sexual tension tight. Lily is guarded herself. She’s on the run not only for her life but her new-found niece’s as well and doesn’t have time for romance, especially with a man who’s still in love with his dead wife. But the attraction is there. The amount of pull and push between these two characters is just right until they can’t fight it any more.
The Fizzle: *spoiler alert ahead*
The Big Twist intended to surprise the reader in the end doesn’t. Because of the book blurb, I saw it coming from the very beginning. The strange thing is, the bit about her sister not having a matching scar from the kidney transplant was left entirely out of the book itself. At least I don’t remember reading it and after doing a search and find on my Kindle, I couldn’t find reference to it anywhere except in the blurb. For something that’s suppose to be so pivotal to the story, I found this omission odd.
Too Many Coincidences at the End…
- Miles crashes his truck through the electric fence at the compound. Since this is such a high tech place, wouldn’t an alarm go off immediately alerting security to the breach?
- The FBI just happen to be raiding the compound at the same exact moment Miles breaks in to save Lily.
- More amazing timing: An unknown, grief-stricken pregnant woman suddenly shows up on the roof to try to kill the villain as he takes off with Lily in a helicopter. And her aim is so good, she takes out the rotor causing the helicopter to spin out of control and crash before Miles’ eyes.
- When Miles climbs the electric fence (without even testing it first) in a desperate attempt to get to Lily after the crash, it just happens to be turned off (lucky for him). Did the FBI do it? Did it happen when he crashed through the fence in his truck? Who knows.
The ‘IT’ Factor:
There’s little to no filler here. The story is lean and mean, moving along at a fast pace that keeps you turning the pages. It has everything a good Romantic Suspense should have, except perhaps a plausible ending. The characters are well-rounded and multi-dimensional, their emotions raw and believable. I would say the first 3/4 of this book is polished to perfection. Unfortunately, the ending had too many coincidences and had me rolling my eyes one too many times. Still, this author has talent and she’ll probably only get better with the next one.